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What is a Holistic Veterinarian?

What is a Holistic Veterinarian? How have we been trained? How do you find us? Not all holistic veterinarians are the same. This is quite an umbrella term!

Holistic is a mindset. Most of us define it as a feeling. We believe that as a doctor, we need to consider the mind, body and spirit of our patient. We do not believe that it is adequate to diagnose disease and treat the disease with a drug. We need to manage the entire patient and even that patient’s environment. A dog or cat’s family and home life contribute to that pet’s well-being. We need to listen to guardians and facilitate changes to benefit our patient’s quality of life and longevity.

There are many modalities utilized to reach this end by holistic practitioners. The emotional, physical and intellectual skills possessed by holistic veterinarians have been attained in quite a variety of ways. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association has a Council of Elders. Some of these veterinarians are pioneers in their field. They developed holistic thought and tools when there were no holistic text books from which to learn. Many of them are authors of publications used by the rest of us to learn. Similarly, some of us, currently in practice, are pioneering new modalities, from the human holistic medical fields, into the veterinary world. Some holistic veterinarians began as conventional veterinarians with a knowledge of or passion for the utilization of western herbs, perhaps their culinary or even home family medicinal usage. They began incorporating this herbal usage into their veterinary practices. As their successes mounted and word spread, these doctors developed an intense following of pet-loving clientele. Some wrote books, some wrote articles for magazines, some were asked to be on radio shows and many became presenters of their information to share with pet parents and fellow colleagues.

This same development has occurred within the realm of homeopathy, massage, Chinese herbals, essential oils, acupuncture, and more. The sharing of this information between the human experienced practitioners and the veterinary has only benefitted all types of patients immensely. Currently, this type of educational growth is occurring with the study and use of whole foods, functional foods, super foods! I have attended dozens of seminars marketed to human chiropractors for the purpose of teaching them whole food nutrition. I then adapt that information to use in my veterinary practice. It has been amazing to me how many disorders or imbalances I can balance with simple species-appropriate nutrition and whole food supplementation. For example even serious disorders which normally require strong, even toxic, medical management such as Cushings disease or diabetes in dogs and cats can be managed with the right diet and whole food supplements.

There is no official certification for a veterinary practitioner who is experienced in the utilization, selection and prescription, of nutrition and whole food supplement s for pets. There are many specialties and certifications for conventional as well as holistic veterinarians. Seeking out a holistic practitioner with the demeanor, skills and knowledge that your pet needs for his or her current disorder, or to begin the new natural pet care life for your puppy or kitten, can be difficult. I suggest you begin with This website provides a search engine for holistically minded veterinarians in your area. Most holistic vets join this organization. This will also list any special certifications which they have achieved. For example, if your pet has a musculoskeletal disorder, you may want to choose a holistic veterinarian who is able to perform acupuncture. If your dog or cat has an emotional or behavioral disorder you may want a practitioner who is experienced with the selection of safe essential oils for aromatherapy as well as experiential advice for behavior modification. Most of our referrals come from current clients who have told their family, friends and neighbors about our facility. So, ask those you know who have pets, if they take their dog or cat to a holistic veterinary practitioner. If they don’t, they should! The word is out that pets are being excessively vaccinated and are consuming too many starchy foods. All holistic practitioners agree that this is the case, and will guide you or your pet-loving friend toward better, safer preventive health management for your furry companions!

Jodie Gruenstern DVM CVA has been practicing veterinary medicine in Muskego, Wisconsin since 1987. She is a certified veterinary acupuncturist and food therapist by the Chi Institute. Dr. Jodie is the owner of the Animal Doctor Holistic Veterinary Complex, an integrated, full-service small animal practice. For more info and healthy products visit or

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