Green Little Cat

Holistic Vets vs. Traditional Vets — What’s the Difference?

Furball has used two of his nine lives. He had a blocked bladder once and acute pancreatitis another time. Under those emergency situations, I took him to his regular vet and they did a great job of diagnosing and treating his condition. However, after getting through the emergency phase, I found there wasn’t really much that conventional veterinary medicine could do for him. I was told that they didn’t really know why he got pancreatitis. They did give me a special diet for his struvite crystals, but I noticed that his coat became dull when I fed it to him.

So, when Furball uncharacteristically hacked up hairballs and some spit-up over the course of a few days, I decided to take him to see Dr. Sara Skiwski. Dr. Skiwski is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and she also specializes in acupuncture and herbs for pets. She gave some great advice for dietary changes and also recommended some acupressure points to help strengthen his digestive and urinary systems (For more info, see “Related Posts” at the end of this blog entry).

For people new to the concept of Holistic Veterinary Medicine, I asked Dr. Skiwski to explain what it is and when it might be appropriate for your cat. Here’s what she had to say:

Green Little Cat: What’s the difference between conventional and natural medicine?

Dr. Skiwski: A whole world of philosophy and outlook.

Natural Medicine

  • Emphasizes disease prevention
  • Views the body as a living microcosm, with disease resulting when it is unbalanced
  • Views the body as capable of self repair and administers treatments to support self healing
Conventional Medicine

  • Emphasizes diagnosis and treatment
  • Views the body as essentially a machine with disease a result when parts break
  • Views the body as the passive recipient of treatments that fix it

Green Little Cat: When and why might it be better to take your cat to see a Holistic Vet?

Dr. Skiwski: Holistic medicine can be useful in helping the body heal from any disease. However, it is best to seek traditional or conventional veterinarian in an emergency that would require triage or surgery or hospitalization. After the pet is stabilized and home, then it is a good time to add holistic medicine to help the pet fully heal. Holistic medicine is a great help to any chronic ongoing condition- skin, allergies, asthma, kidney disease, etc.

Green Little Cat: What conditions are acupuncture good for treating?

Dr. Skiwski: Acupuncture bridges a gap between medicine and surgery. In the Western world acupuncture is used primarily when medications are not working or are contraindicated. In China, it is often used as the primary treatment before conventional medicines.

In small animals acupuncture is most commonly used for:

1. Musculoskeletal Problems

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Arthritis
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Long Term Injuries

2. Nervous Disorders

  • Traumatic nerve injuries
  • Certain types of paralysis

3. Respiratory Problems

  • Feline asthma
  • Many other conditions have also responded

4. Skin Problems

  • Lick granulomas
  • Sensory neurodermatitis

There are many other conditions acupuncture can be used for, these are just a highlight of the most common uses.

Dr. Sara Skiwski practices in the San Jose/South Bay area of California. If you’d like to book an appointment for your cat or dog, please visit her website at:

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