Holistic Animal Care Studies Information

Holistic animal care, also known as holistic or integrative veterinary medicine, is the practice of veterinary medicine using a combination of conventional and alternative methods of treatment, including acupuncture, homeopathy, nutrition and herbal medicine. Individuals may study to become holistic veterinarians by earning a doctorate in veterinary medicine and then studying their alternative modality of choice.

It is not possible to earn a degree in holistic animal care, but interested individuals can enroll in a veterinary medicine program, and then pursue knowledge in holistic care through opportunities provided by industry organizations.

Studying Holistic Animal Care at Vet School

There is no specific degree program in holistic animal care, but individuals interested in this field can begin by pursuing a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Several vet schools have active chapters of the Student American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA).

Applicants to veterinary school must first earn a bachelor's degree. While no specific pre-veterinary degrees are required, a program in biology or animal science usually includes the prerequisites necessary for admission to vet school.

Earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree typically takes about four years after an undergraduate degree. Veterinary school graduates must then take the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) to obtain a license to practice veterinary medicine. Some states have additional state-specific licensing requirements.

Specializing in Holistic Veterinary Medicine

After becoming a licensed veterinarian, there are a number of ways to pursue a specialization in holistic animal care. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) offers an annual conference on holistic veterinary medicine for veterinarians seeking professional information and continuing education in the field. Members of the AHVMA can also access journals, practical aids and other resources for practicing holistic animal care.

Potential AHVMA specialties include the following:

  • Acupuncture
  • Homeopathy
  • Medicinal herbs
  • Chiropractic
  • Nutrition
  • Low level light therapy


Veterinarians interested in acupuncture may join the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA). The organization offers links to qualifying continuing education programs, which include acupuncture seminars and workshops in Chinese herbs and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (CTVM). Advanced certification is available to test for the Fellow of the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (FAAVA) title, as well.


Holistic veterinarians specifically interested in homeopathic medicine can become certified by the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (AVH). Applicants must already be licensed veterinarians or veterinarian students and complete a 6-month series of AVH-approved courses. After completing the coursework in homeopathic veterinary medicine, individuals must demonstrate clinical application of homeopathic principles to earn the Certified Veterinary Homeopath (CVH) credential.


Certification is offered through the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) for individuals who would like to offer chiropractic treatments. Veterinarians who have studied animal chiropractics take the Animal Chiropractic Certification Commission (ACCC) exam to become certified animal chiropractors.

Even though it is not possible to earn a degree specifically in holistic animal care studies, individuals who are interested in the field can earn a DVM and then specialize their practice in a holistic care modality such as acupuncture, homeopathy or chiropractic.

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