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Having Trouble Finding a Holistic Vet in Your Area?

Having Trouble Finding a Holistic Vet in Your Area?

Story at-a-glance -

  • Alternative medicine for animals has been largely ignored when it comes to funding for research and education, but as more pet parents realize conventional vet medicine isn’t the answer to every problem, the demand for non-traditional treatments is increasing.
  • As growing numbers of pet owners become interested in complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM), the more obvious it is the U.S. suffers from a serious shortage of holistic and integrative veterinary practitioners.
  • The AHVMA Foundation aims to change all that by creating a groundswell of independent financial support to fund research into CAVM theories and practices, as well as full CAVM teaching programs for veterinary schools.
  • Between now and July 2, 2012, every $1 donated to the AHVMA Foundation toward the “Be One in a Million” campaign will be automatically doubled. That’s right – MercolaHealthyPets.com will contribute $2 for every $1 donation to the foundation from June 25th through July 2nd.

By Dr. Becker

A growing number of people across the U.S. are awakening to the fact that the Western medical model of drugs-and-surgery isn’t a silver bullet for treating disease or staying well.

The most obvious example of the problems inherent in allopathic medicine is the adverse side effects of prescription drugs. The more Western medicine narrows its focus to specific symptoms and develops drugs to treat those symptoms, the greater the likelihood of dangerous side effects.

Even relatively safe medications like antibiotics that are effective in treating a wide range of infections have been abused to such an extent we’ve created virulent strains of unstoppable ‘superbugs.’

As consumers begin to participate more in their own health care and that of their pets, the demand for complementary and alternative therapies is increasing. People want information about proper nutrition. They want access to chiropractic care, acupuncture and therapeutic massage. They’re looking for non-toxic, or less toxic alternatives to drugs in the form of herbs, supplements and homeopathic remedies.

Fortunately for humans, several U.S. government agencies and large, mainstream medical schools are now involved in funding research for these long-ignored alternative healing techniques. This means we will see an increase in scientific evidence that supports the use of complementary therapies. You and your doctors will gain more tools to help create and preserve health.

Sadly, there is still very little funding available for research in complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM).

CAVM Research Lags Far Behind Conventional Medicine Research

Research into alternative veterinary medicine techniques is minimally funded. Consequently, most veterinary schools do not have faculty qualified to either teach or research such topics. Since vet students receive little or no training in alternative medicine, they may graduate unaware of its potential usefulness.

Historically, the number of vets who have branched out into complementary and alternative medicine after receiving their DVM degrees is small. Only recently have an increasing number of vets expressed interest in learning about these so-called “new” tools for treating animals.

The result is that many pet owners don’t have access to a holistic or integrative veterinarian. Others drive their animals long distances to receive non-traditional vet care.

But the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) Foundation is working to correct that.

More Veterinary Schools are Adding CAVM Programs

According to Dr. Richard Palmquist, Co-director of the AHVMA Foundation:

“It is my job to work on projects that raise money for veterinary research into these fields. We also are working to improve education in veterinary professional schools across the United States. Our group finds it undesirable that veterinary students graduate with little experience and guidance in integrative medicine.”

The deans of veterinary schools also agree that, “CAVM is an important topic that should be addressed in veterinary medical education, but opinions vary as to the appropriate framework.”1 Many veterinary schools offer courses and labs in CAVM, and all agree coursework should be carried out within an evidence-based medicine environment.

Increased consumer demand for alternative therapies is also compelling veterinary schools to expand their faculties and classes to encompass CAVM modalities. In fact, a new veterinary acupuncture program for large animals at Louisiana State University was made possible thanks to a generous gift by a private donor.

Two other LSU faculty members are receiving training in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine and will focus their efforts in the area of alternative pain management. According to Dr. Palmquist, during a recent visit to LSU he found the “entire school buzzing with excitement.” Another program in the works there is research into herbal medicine for horses.

Other veterinary schools focusing on CAVM programs are the University of Florida, the University of Tennessee, Tufts and Colorado State University.

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Slow Progress

Despite the headway some vet schools have made in introducing alternative medicine training into the curriculum, lack of funding remains a significant hurdle for those institutions and others interested in expanding into CAVM.

State funding for universities is shrinking and tuitions are already quite high. Vet schools are struggling just to maintain programs that produce competent graduates – there is simply no money available to expand the curriculum into other important areas.

That’s where the AHVMA Foundation comes in.

The foundation is working to create five CAVM programs at a cost of about $2 million each. The goal is to raise the funds and assist with the creation, staffing and technical aspects involved in growing these new programs. The foundation has identified four schools that are interested in expanding their curriculum, but public contributions are necessary to make the CAVM programs a reality.

The Goal: Create a Groundswell of Independent Financial Support

Dr. Palmquist and his team envision creating a revolution in the funding and growth of health care for pets. Rather than relying on tax dollars and large corporations to provide funding, they hope to create a groundswell of independent financial support from individuals and organizations solely interested in finding the truth about CAVM practices and theories.

All CAVM research will become public information that can be applied to the practice of both animal and human health care.

Since traditional medical research is often backed by pharmaceutical companies in search of patentable products that can be sold for a profit, the foundation has a special interest in funding research into whole food nutrition and herbology – areas that have been largely ignored by the conventional medical community.

How You Can Help

Be One in a Million.

The AHVMA Foundation’s goal is to raise $10 million for research and $10 million for professional education program enhancements within existing veterinary schools. This will also include scholarships to veterinary students interested in integrative medicine careers.

If one million pet owners committed to donate $1 a month, the foundation could raise $12 million in a single year. And since all donations would come from independent entities, not a dime of the money raised would be set aside for special interests. Every cent would be used to improve the quantity and quality of CAVM research and education.

If you believe in the value of complementary and alternative veterinary medicine, and if you’d like your pet and all animals to have access to more natural, non-traditional healing therapies, the AHVMA Foundation would welcome your support.

The AHVMA Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving the public through its activities. Charitable donations to the foundation are tax deductible.

You Can Make a Difference

I’m tremendously excited to announce that now through July 2, 2012, all donations will be automatically doubled. That’s right! For every $1 donated, MercolaHealthyPets.com will donate an additional $2. So please, take a moment right now to make a donation to the AHVMA Foundation.

Donate Today!


  • i Memon MA, Sprunger LK. Survey of colleges and schools of veterinary medicine regarding education in complementary and alternative veterinary medicine. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2011 Sep 1;239(5):619-23

+ Sources and References
  • Richard Palmquist, DVM, Co-director of the AHVMA Foundation