Integrative Veterinary Medicine

What is Integrative Veterinary Medicine?

Dr. David MacDonald practices truly integrative veterinary medicine. Integrative medicine takes clinical data from a full spectrum of medical modalities, and utilizes all the available tools within these practices in order to investigate health and disease from many perspectives. This wealth of knowledge allows for the ability to integrate these medicines in a cohesive way that provides the best possible care for your pet, and ultimately the best outcomes. Rather than choosing a single approach, integrative veterinary medicine believes that synergistically integrating approaches is greater than the sum of each of its parts.

In integrative veterinary medicine, an emphasis is placed on wellness and perpetuating health, not just treating disease when it happens. We strive to help keep animals healthy by integrating and interweaving the following into our daily lives and the lives of our patients:


It is clear from all viewpoints that nutrition is the basis of health and thus the foundation upon which we place our pets’ lives for sustaining wellness. Understanding and respecting the particular nutritional requirements of dogs and cats is critical to making the best choice for your pet’s diet. Important, yet simple principles guide us in the big picture (the fact that dogs and cats are carnivores), yet there is room for individual specifics (for example, the needs of a patient with kidney disease). Thus, counseling in nutrition is part of almost every visit to Mountain Shadow Veterinary Hospital.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) includes:

This approach to medicine has been practiced for about 3000 years and is formed by a simple, yet insightful view of the body as it is part of and influenced by natural phenomena.

Dr. MacDonald is trained and certified in veterinary acupuncture through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS), the pioneer in bringing TCM and acupuncture to North America. Acupuncture may be used to successfully treat musculoskeletal pain due to injury or arthritic change, neurologic dysfunction (including paralysis due to IVDD), internal disease (such as kidney failure), digestive problems (such as inflammatory bowel disease), dermatologic problems (such as allergic dermatitis) and urinary dysfunction (such as urinary incontinence).

Chinese herbal medicine is used to complement and extend the reach of what is accomplished with acupuncture. It utilizes the same framework of interpretation as acupuncture, yet provides daily care and influence. Many plants and herbs have been the inspiration for synthetic pharmaceuticals. They have true medicinal value, yet the natural influence of herbs is often milder and safer, with a minimum of side effects. Dr. MacDonald is currently undertaking intensive training in Chinese herbal medicine, leading to additional specialist certification.

Food therapy has a particular influence in TCM as it furthers the ability to influence the body with natural nourishment. As such, it is clear that modern concepts of pet nutrition (especially grain-free diets) are affirmed by classical thinking from thousands of years ago.

The focus of Traditional Chinese Medicine is in identifying and addressing imbalances in the body that creates a state of disease. This is most notable in chronic disease where too often traditional drugs merely treat symptoms without resolving the imbalance. TCM often surpasses the ability of traditional medicine by safely treating the symptoms as well as the root imbalance. In this way, the disease state is eliminated by re-creating balance in the body.

Energy-based medicine

Animals are found to be very responsive to Reiki. The light and quiet engagement of this energy work is easier for animals to receive in moments of trauma and emotional turmoil. Dr. MacDonald has received Level 1 Reiki training with a Reiki master and, as such, is equipped to help pets in this gentle way. Similarly, the use of Bach Flower Remedies (such as Rescue Remedy) can help pets with emotional burden, which is often the case with rescued or adopted animals.


While Dr. MacDonald has very limited training in homeopathy, there are times that its use is powerful and considered the first line of treatment.


This is a very general category, however, anything that is given as a supplement to the pet’s regular diet qualifies. This often includes joint supplements (glucosamine), supplemental support for disease (milk thistle for liver disease), and vitamin supplements that are used for general support, or for very specific effect (most profoundly in cancer therapy). Additionally, we recognize the apparent universal benefit of a supplement like fish oil must be considered for the individual, rather than just dispensed for everyone.

Any pet may benefit from integrative health care. Whether they are healthy or are challenged by serious disease, a consciously considered plan that provides choice and flexibility allow for great things to happen.

Please call 570-739-4838 today to schedule an appointment for your pet.