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“So, Dr. Lewter, what’s all this about Holistic Veterinary Medicine??”

Well, let me share my path with you. How did I get to this place in my career? It all started with a Chinese roommate at VA Tech in my pre-vet days who worked at an acupuncture clinic. I thought that was very strange back in the 70’s, but I respected her intelligence, and I was curious. A seed had been planted.
Many years later after years of working in a dairy cattle practice as a veterinarian, I wondered if acupuncture could help some of these sad downer cow cases. I was so tired of seeing these cows suffer, and their owners lose good cows. I enrolled in the IVAS acupuncture training and went “back to school”. During this course, I kept having flashbacks of all the cases which had died or been euthanized which I now knew I could have helped. This knowledge fueled my desire for more information and I started a 3 year Chinese Herbal Medicine course. It seemed a natural complement to acupuncture and an integral part of Chinese medicine.
I began to offer some hope to cases which would be given up on in conventional medicine. Suddenly conventional medicine continuing education courses were of no interest to me and I sought out training in my new field, all the while continuing to practice in a mostly conventional way. (I use the term conventional to refer to standard of care veterinary medicine, and Traditional to refer to Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM.)
In 1994, I attended the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association conference in Orlando Florida and this was a turning point. I found all my new knowledge was just a peek through the door of a much bigger world to discover. And, the icing on the cake was that these vets were real down-to-earth people. They willingly shared knowledge and supported each other in the quest for healing. They acknowledged a greater universal force than drugs and surgery in veterinary medicine. They celebrated lifelong learning, the fellowship of others who had found this path, and the duty we have to offer all options to our patients. I had “found my people”!
Years went by and I offered alternatives and choices to those who sought them. I was still a vet who did lots of surgery and conventional medicine but I added acupuncture and herbs to everyday practice.
I moved to VA and began a mobile rural practice serving my community as the only vet in my county. Needless to say, I felt a lot like the James Herriot of Craig County! I still attended holistic veterinary meetings and would come home full of new ideas and options. Still, I found most of my clients did not know I did anything different. Some only wanted the bare minimum of care, and others wanted to do everything possible. Many would describe the acupuncture as ”those B-12 injections”. The homeopathics were just small pills to them. In reality, it did not matter as long as the animal improved! I could not agree more!
In 2010, I decided to have a location dedicated exclusively to the practice of holistic medicine and Holistic Veterinary Consultants was born. I still do the James Herriot thing in my rural county because it is a real treasure. (That will have to be a story for another day!) Yet having an office with a physical location has helped to provide a quiet space for seeing clients and has enabled me to add Angela, my office assistant, to my team. At the new clinic I schedule long appointments to offer advice and treatments that are a compliment to conventional care. It’s not rocket science, as they say. It’s just another approach, such as pain management options, end of life choices, organic farming options, and urging clients to look at what they feed their animals. It’s never giving up on a patient, it’s selecting treatments that are optimal for the patient’s needs and the clients lifestyle.
I hope to never again hear that an animal was euthanized because the owner never knew there was any other option out there. I want to offer choices for those who seek wellness and quality of life. I want be an advocate for those who have no voice.
These days, information abounds but knowledge and experience are what I have to offer my clients. Fortunately I have colleagues who willingly consult on cases, because I am the first to admit that I have a long way to go before I know everything! My goal is to have several holistic veterinary specialists under one roof to offer specialized care. There are veterinary chiropractors, veterinary homeopaths and veterinary physical therapists. There are nutritionists, reiki masters, and oncologists; so many options to look at. It’s all about choices. We seek these sort of choices for ourselves so why not for our animals too?
Let me end by saying my greatest satisfaction comes from seeing a pet lead its person to a discovery in their own life that leads to better health and happiness. I’ve see it many times and I thank our animal angels for that purpose in their lives.

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December 5, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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