The Wonders of Integrative Veterinary Medicine
15 April, 2016

Guest blog by Mary Oquendo of the Spirited Dog Blog

I’m a huge fan of Integrative Veterinary Medicine (IVM.) IVM is a comprehensive approach that combines conventional and complementary therapies, as well as lifestyle consultations. An IVM veterinarian considers these three elements when making a treatment plan. While each is vastly different, they are equally important.

Conventional Veterinary Medicine

Where conventional medicine shines is in diagnostic tools and pharmaceuticals. Diagnostic tools, such as MRI, ultrasound, blood workups, CAT scans, endoscopy, skin scrapings and X-rays, can pinpoint the problem quickly. Treatment plans mirror that which is available to people and include surgery, cancer treatments, and life-saving and life-extending drugs. And when they are not overused, vaccines can eliminate life-threatening illnesses.

However, as a general rule, conventional veterinary medicine works from the outside in. Many of the treatments and drugs have negative side effects, but they can also buy the pet time for other modalities to have a chance to work.

Complementary or Alternative Veterinary Medicine

Many practitioners refer to this as Traditional Veterinary Medicine. A trained veterinarian should perform the following modalities: acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine. A non-veterinarian practitioner trained in a particular field can perform other therapies such as Reiki, cold laser, light, sound, massage, physical therapy, and flower essences.

Traditional therapies can reduce the side effects of necessary pharmaceuticals and cancer treatments, as well as boost the immune system to help speed healing. Traditional therapies work from the inside out at the very root of the problem. Because of this, traditional therapies may take longer to resolve a medical concern. Sometimes, the pet does not have the time to spare to rely solely on traditional remedies.

Lifestyle Consultations

Nothing truly changes until you look at what is really causing the problem.

• Environment: What chemicals and carcinogens from your cleaning and other household products are you subjecting your pet?

• Diet: Are you feeding them species-appropriate or high-quality food? Or is their diet the equivalent of McDonald’s?

• Exercise: Pets with good muscle tone and at a healthy weight will have stronger immune systems.

• Grooming: The skin is the largest organ in the body. Poor coat and skin can be the first indicator of an underlying health problem. Whether it is professional or do-it-yourself, maintaining the coat and skin will protect that organ, as well as give you a heads up in detecting injuries and conditions that require your immediate attention.

• Stress. When you are stressed, your body gives off hormones that your pets can smell and recognize as a problem.

How Integrative Veterinary Medicine Worked For Three Of My Pets


My 7-year-old miniature pinscher was drinking an excessive amount of water, urinating frequently, appeared lethargic and his breath smelled sweet.

Conventional medicine did a blood work up and urinalysis, gave a diagnosis of diabetes and prescribed medications. Subsequent lab work was set up to monitor and adjust the medications as necessary.

Traditional medicine added in homeopathy and TCM, as well as regular Reiki sessions.

Lifestyle consultation resulted in a change in diet.

Outcome: Insulin was reduced over time.


My 9-year-old malamute yelped and began limping when she jumped off the bed.

Conventional medicine did X-rays and determined it was a torn ACL. Surgery repaired it and pain medications and antibiotics were prescribed.

Traditional therapies included physical therapy, flower essences to counteract the anesthesia, regular Reiki sessions and massage.

Lifestyle changes included a diet higher in protein, and calming music.

Outcome: Recovery time was reduced without the second ACL tearing on the other leg. A second tear on the other leg is a common occurrence.


My 12 year-old golden retriever presented a sebaceous cyst that would not heal on its own.

Conventional medicine did the surgery to remove the cyst and prescribed pain medications and antibiotics.

Traditional medicine added Reiki to speed healing and flower essences to counteract the anesthesia.

Lifestyle changes added frozen doggie yogurt because it is her favorite thing to eat.

Outcome: She healed quickly while thoroughly enjoying her yogurt.

Relying on only one of the constituents of integrative veterinary medicine may still be medical care; however, it will have farther-reaching consequences that may even affect quality and longevity of the pet’s life.

Mary Oquendo is a nationally recognized writer and speaker in the professional pet industry. In addition, Mary is a Reiki Master and an Advanced Crystal Master who specializes in pets. Mary advocates for disabled pets. You can follow the story of her blind dog at . Mary can be reached at [email protected]

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