Holistic Veterinary Therapies and the Vet Tech's Role - Vet Tech Guide

Holistic Veterinary Therapies and the Vet Tech’s Role

You may have heard about holistic therapy for people.

But did you know that these unique treatments have been making their appearances in veterinary facilities all across the country as well?

In fact, more and more veterinary practices today are even choosing to specialize in holistic therapy!

While many traditional treatment options focus on just relieving the symptoms of chronic conditions in pets, holistic therapies offer a whole new approach to improving a pet’s health.

No matter whether a pet is suffering from arthritis, epilepsy or chronic ear infections, there is a holistic treatment that can help!

Holistic Therapy Applications

holistic therapies for pets

The goal of holistic veterinary therapy, also known as alternative veterinary care, is to heal pets by focusing on all aspects of the body.

Further, these types of unique procedures can be used for purposes relating to prevention, diagnostics, all-natural treatments and short or long-term therapy.

Holistic therapy can be effective in treating a broad range of pet health issues that range from mild stomach upsets to crippling degenerative arthritis.

However, some of the most common conditions that can benefit from alternative forms of veterinary medicine are as follows:

  • Post-Operative Recovery
  • Degenerative Arthritis
  • Spinal and Disc Issues
  • Asthma
  • Colitis
  • Cystitis
  • Chronic Ear Infections
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Ligament Injuries
  • Thyroid Imbalances
  • Poor Circulation
  • Nutritional Issues
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Muscle Spasms

Common Types of Holistic Therapy

Not all dogs and cats are the same, and traditional treatments that may work for one pet may not be effective for another.

One of the reasons that holistic therapy has such a high success rate in treating pets is because it focuses on the individual needs of each patient.

There are many different types of alternative therapy, and some of the most common treatments are described below.


Hydrotherapy is a form of holistic therapy that can be highly effective for pets suffering from such issues as hip or elbow dysplasia, ligament injuries, luxating patellas and degenerative arthritis.

This type of therapy involves encouraging pets to swim with or without a protective harness inside a heated pool.

Underwater resistance jets may or may not be used during therapy depending on the patient’s needs.


The most common pet health issue that can be relieved through acupuncture is arthritis.

However, this treatment method can also be useful in treating such problems as chronic muscle spasms, poor circulation, unexplained nausea, various neurological disorders and thyroid imbalances.

During acupuncture, tiny needles are placed into certain key points on the patient’s body to stimulate the targeted area and relieve discomfort or pain.

Massage and Chiropractic Therapy

Although massage and chiropractic therapy can be performed separately, they are often used together to treat a variety of pet ailments.

These forms of alternative veterinary therapy are most often used for pets that have problems related to their muscles or bone alignment.

The goals of massage and chiropractic therapy are to realign bones, encourage proper circulation and relieve chronic pain.

Nutritional Therapy

Holistic nutritional therapy is a great option for pet owners whose dogs or cats suffer from food allergies.

Holistic pet food is typically made using a variety of all-natural ingredients such as fish, buffalo, lamb, venison, duck, sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots and berries.

These foods are usually grain-free and contain no by-products, which can be easy on the stomach of a food-allergic pet.


Homeopathy has been used to treat human ailments for more than 200 years.

However, this type of alternative therapy can be utilized for a number of pet health issues as well including asthma, epilepsy, cystitis and chronic ear infections.

Homeopathy involves the administration of various all-natural holistic medicines such as aconite, arnica, arsenicum and aurum metallicum.

Herbal Medicines

Due to their unique all-natural ingredients, various plants and herbs can be of significant therapeutic value in the treatment of a number of pet health conditions.

In fact, more and more today, veterinarians are using a variety of herbal and botanical remedies to treat such pet health issues as inflammation, colitis, food allergies and even arthritis. Some of the most common of these remedies can be found listed here.

  • Aloe Vera – This herb is effective in treating scrapes, cuts, wounds, burns, stomach ulcers, constipation and infections.
  • Goldenseal – Goldenseal is a powerful herb that is quite effective in treating such things as eye infections, stomach issues and bowel disorders.
  • Calendula Flowers – The petals of these tiny flowers are extremely useful in treating scrapes, cuts and wounds.
  • Chamomile – This herb is useful in treating many different issues in pets including asthma, high blood pressure, flea infestation and hyperactivity.
  • Ginger – The roots of ginger plants are often used to settle upset stomachs.
  • Milk Thistle – Milk thistle is a valuable extract that can protect the liver and improve its functioning.

The Vet Tech’s Role In Holistic Pet Care

Now that you know all about the basics of holistic veterinary therapies and their many applications, you may be wondering just where does a vet tech fit into the picture.

What role does a veterinary technician have in administering holistic therapy to pets?

The answer to this question depends on the following factors.

Perhaps the best way to answer the above question is to list the types of holistic procedures that vet techs can commonly perform and which ones they cannot.

As a veterinary technician, there will be several alternative care procedures that you cannot legally perform in a veterinary medical setting.

The most common of these procedures can be found listed below.

  • Non-Emergency Acupuncture
  • Diagnosing Ailments and Other Issues
  • Prescribing Holistic Medications
  • Suggesting Holistic or Other Treatments
  • Chiropractic Care

So, just where does a vet tech fit into holistic veterinary therapy? As you can see from the list given above, there are a few holistic procedures that you will not be able to perform as a vet tech. However, there are many more alternative care procedures that you will be able to perform!

As mentioned above, the actual holistic tasks you will perform as a vet tech depends on your individual employer. Nevertheless, veterinary technicians are typically responsible for many tasks related to holistic therapies, and you will find some of the most common of these duties listed here.

  • Educating Pet Owners on Holistic Nutrition and Home Care
  • Acupuncture for Cardiovascular Resuscitation
  • Massage Therapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Administration of Various Holistic Medications
  • Assisting Veterinarians During Exams and Holistic Treatments
  • Basic Care of Patients (Feeding, Grooming and Exercising)
  • Maintaining Medical Equipment and Exam Rooms
  • Taking and Recording Patients’ Vital Signs

Benefits of Holistic Pet Therapy

There are many benefits that pet owners can enjoy when they choose holistic therapy for their pets.

This is especially true for those people who have tried traditional methods with little to no success.

Just some of the great benefits that people can derive from choosing holistic care for their dogs or cats are as follows:

  • Improve Pets’ Knee Joints When Surgery is Not an Option
  • Improve Mobility and Flexibility of Joints
  • Safer, All-Natural Medications for Pets
  • Safely and Quickly Treat Pets’ Wounds and Infections
  • Effectively Relieve Chronic Pain in Pets
  • Safer Alternative to Surgery in Some Cases
  • Best Nutritional Alternative for Food-Allergic Patients
  • Reduce the Symptoms of Many Chronic Conditions in Pets

Holistic Animal Care Tech Requirements

If you are a vet tech who would like to add holistic animal care certification to your resume, we can help!

Of course, you will first need to fulfill the requirements necessary for licensing as a regular vet tech.

However, since holistic medicine has become so popular in veterinary facilities today, there are other steps you will want to take to increase your employment possibilities.

Obtaining an associate of applied science degree in veterinary technology is the first step to becoming a veterinary technician. But if you want to stay on top of today’s technology and increase your chances of employment, you will want to further your education a bit.

One great way to do this is by specializing in holistic therapy and completing all of the following steps.

  • Obtain a High School Diploma or GED
  • Enroll in an Approved Veterinary Technology Program
  • Earn Your Associate of Applied Science Degree in Veterinary Technology
  • Enroll in Special Holistic Veterinary Therapy or Alternative Veterinary Care Courses
  • Participate in a Veterinary Technician Intern or Externship With a Holistic Care Vet
  • Pass Your Veterinary Technician National Exam
  • Obtain Your Veterinary Technician License

Special Courses for Vet Techs

As stated above, the best way to increase your chances of employment as a vet tech is to enroll in holistic therapy or alternative care specialty courses.

Many times, you can find these types of courses in the continuing education course offerings of local community colleges.

But If you are having a difficult time finding such courses in your area, some organizations you can contact for help are as follows:

The American Holistic Veterinary Association

No article about holistic veterinary therapies would be complete without mentioning the American Holistic Veterinary Association. The AHVA was created in 1982 by a small group of veterinarians who had the common goal of creating a holistic approach to a variety of veterinary medical treatments and procedures.

In its early years, the American Holistic Veterinary Association consisted of only about three dozen members.

However, the organization has grown rather quickly and has a membership of more than 1,000 veterinary professionals all over the United States today.

While the goals of the American Holistic Veterinary Association are many, the main goals of the group are as follows:

  • To Advance Holistic Medicine All Across the Country
  • To Educate the Public About Holistic Medicine for Animals
  • To Promote the Overall Health and Welfare of Animals
  • To Encourage the Education of Holistic Veterinary Medicine
  • To Research the Benefits of Holistic Therapy for Pets

For people whose pets are suffering from chronic pain or other chronic conditions, there are many great alternatives to traditional veterinary treatments.

These alternatives are known as holistic therapies, and they can be extremely effective in speeding the recovery of both dogs and cats.

If your are an aspiring or existing vet tech who would like to specialize in holistic therapies, you have come to the right place!

Holistic therapy has become an extremely popular option for pet owners today, and vet techs who have training in this specialty can significantly increase their employment opportunities.

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