Michael Goldberg, DVM, CHom
I am repeatedly asked the question: how does one become a holistic veterinarian? There are a number of reasons I have chosen this pat.
I am repeatedly asked the question: how does one become a holistic veterinarian? There are a number of reasons I have chosen this path. After practising for a number of years in a busy animal hospital, I noticed that many patients appeared to temporarily improve as long as they were on medication but once they stopped, they would relapse. This pattern continued until I realized the need to expand my toolbox in order to have other methods of treatment to offer. When I began to study homeopathy, I discovered that this modality could in fact treat chronic disease with the hope of a cure and allow my patients the ability to function without the reliance on constant medicines.
In veterinary college in the mid-80s, there was very little exposure to alternative medicine. There was also very little opportunity to practise it. The other thing about veterinary college is, all the information is so overwhelming that alternatives take a back seat at that point to actually graduating! I graduated from veterinary college in 1990 and in that year moved from Saskatchewan to British Columbia.
After practicing for a number of years in Surrey, BC, I came across a text on homeopathy. The system sounded very logical and possibly useful: its main focus is to help the vital force or the body's energetic force rebalance itself and stimulate its own healing. Nevertheless, I put the book aside. Then about five years later I met someone on an airplane who, in that four-hour flight, rekindled my interest in homeopathy. I learned about the Vancouver Homeopathic Academy (homeopathyvancouver.com), which had just opened, and I began studying there a short time later.
After the first class, this system of therapy made sense to me and answered a number of questions I had gathered during the first years of my practice. Homeopathy opened my eyes to the fact that there was a genuine, well-proven alternative to the methods of treatment I had been using. After studying and practising that first year, I began a two-year course with over 250 hours of class study on veterinary homeopathy. Upon completion of the course, one is eligible to become certified in veterinary homeopathy through the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (theavh.org).
In 1996 I began using homeopathy with troublesome patients and there were a number of successes. As my knowledge improved I began to look at other aspects of medicine that were seldom questioned, such as vaccination and nutrition. Slowly, though my "tool box" had indeed expanded, I felt there was less and less need for reliance on conventional medical treatments. I became more focused on homeopathy, avoiding over-vaccination and improving nutrition. By 1999 I was using homeopathy as the main treatment in my practice and it continues as such today. I still find there are situations where conventional medicine has its merits, but every day I find more situations that can be treated with homeopathic medicines.
Throughout recent years, the exposure to other alternative modalities has been increasing. There are courses for veterinarians in acupuncture and chiropractic, as well as homeopathy, and there are a number of vets who now practise traditional Chinese medicine, herbology and massage therapy. At this point in time I share an office with Dr Gail Jewel, a veterinary homeopath and veterinary chiropractor.
For those who are interested in other holistic modalities, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (ahvma.org) is a body that offers educational opportunities to veterinarians worldwide and has a refereed quarterly journal that includes articles on a wide variety of subjects. "Holistic" to me means looking not only at the whole pet in its mental, emotional and physical realms, but also using varied tools that will give my patients the best hope of health in a comfortable manner.