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Los Angeles, CA

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Holistic Veterinary Medicine with Dr. Tori Counter | Blooming Culture

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holistic veterinarian for pets



We were so excited to sit down and chat with Dr. Tori Counter from the Balanced Pet Vet in Los Angeles. She aligns with many of our own beliefs in how we look at pet wellness.

We both believe that there is good synergy in using Eastern and Western medicine to accomplish the best and most effective treatment plan for your pet, and she is formally trained in both which is awesome! Integrative vet care is not just for "sick pets", it can work wonders in younger animals for preventive care. It will hopefully let you avoid some of the more major issues that pets face today as they age. 

My personal Dr. is trained in both traditional and holistic medicine, and I used both eastern and western medicine for our dog Maru. It is so important for me to share this with you because I have seen the amazing benefits for people and pets. I believe everyone should be given all possible options so they can make the best-educated decision.  

 Acupuncture and holistic veterinary medicine for dogs.

Why did you choose the name the “Balanced Pet Vet” and what does it mean to you?

Balanced Pet Vet conveys to clients that I take the whole pet into consideration. As a practitioner, looking at all aspects of the animal will help achieve a healthier state of life, rather than just focusing on one specific illness. Everything affects living beings - lifestyle, diet, exercise, medications, human-animal bond, supplements etc - so I want to make sure the animal is well balanced in all areas of their life.

What is your schooling and background?

I always wanted to be a veterinarian but was intimidated by the science courses, so I ended up majoring in Art History during my undergrad at Wake Forest University. After a few years of working in the museum world, I decided to fulfill my dream of becoming a vet! Since I had zero science background, I did 2 years of science courses at Georgetown University’s Post-Bac Pre-Med program, then to Kansas State University for Veterinary school. Once I graduated, I went on to do a one-year rotating internship at ASEC, an ER and Specialty hospital, in West Los Angeles, then headed to GP for several years. Itching for alternatives to typical western medicine, I decided to pursue acupuncture at the Chi Institute in Florida to add to my knowledge base!

What made you want to explore Eastern medicine?

There are so many advances in western medicine, that we are seeing our animals living longer lives, which is great! As I saw many older dogs and cats come through the clinic because their arthritis, chronic pain, and quality of life was getting the best of them. Eastern medicine helps heal the entire pet, balance out their systems, and acupuncture helps with chronic pain and aches that decrease their quality of life. Reducing the number of medications they have to take by implementing eastern medicine has helped improve their quality of life as well.

You are in private practice but mobile-only. How does that work?

Mobile is very different from working in a clinic setting. I see way fewer patients, but I get to spend more quality time with each of them. Seeing pets in their own environment is very useful for assessing their lifestyle, and decreases their stress level during exams and treatment. I can make small adjustments in their environment to help with mobility or getting around the house with ease.

Laser therapy and holistic veterinary medicine for dogs.

What kind of advantage does being mobile give you in terms of providing treatment?

Many older dogs have trouble getting in and out of the car, plus going into the vets' office can be a very stressful event! Coming to them takes that out of the equation. They trust me more easily, and after treatment is done they can just continue to relax at home.  Having that focused time with the animal helps to fully assess them, and it gives the owners a chance to really ask the questions they’ve been thinking about.  It promotes good, thorough discussions, versus relatively quick in/out appointments in the clinic.

You work closely with a pet’s primary veterinarian. What’s that relationship like?

It’s great! We can help the animal from all angles, and we communicate with each other about the progress of the animal after visits. I’m all for a multimodal approach!

How receptive are traditional veterinarians to integrative medicine? Is there a learning curve?  

I’ve found that many GP vets I work with are very open to integrative medicine! We are learning more and more about wellness for humans and animals, and vets' main goal is to promote health in their patients. There is a learning curve since a lot of this material isn’t taught in traditional vet school settings, but there are postgraduate programs and continuing education we can seek out for integrative medicine!

What are some of the treatment modalities you specialize in?

There is currently a high demand for pain control, so I’m focused on acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, and cold laser therapy. I also discuss any diet improvements and supplements that would be beneficial for the pet's overall quality of life. I’m studying canine massage and essential oils, so soon I’ll be adding those modalities!

Pet acupuncture for natural healing and wellness.

Which Eastern medicine techniques/treatments have you found to work especially well?

Across the board I LOVE acupuncture. At the very least, it helps relax them, ease tension, promotes circulation, and is a nice time to have the owners sit and bond with them. It really helps the body to heal itself, and correct any imbalances going on.

Your holistic approach to wellness includes diet. You are resolute in your belief that pets should avoid kibble. Why is that?

Kibble is processed, dried out, and can lack certain nutrients - would you feel good if you ate protein bars your whole life? Sure it’s “balanced” but there are such valuable nutrients in real, whole foods that can help with your animal’s wellness and quality of life. Even if you add in some fresh fruits and veggies to top off the kibble, that’s so much better than only kibble all the time!

What kinds of diets would you suggest? The cost can be a factor, so what can pet parents do?

I urge my clients to feed their animals whole, cooked food, or dehydrated or frozen raw food. You can discuss balanced home-cooked meals with a vet nutritionist, or there are some great companies that offer balanced cooked meals for your Pet. If cost is an issue, then top dressing or at least changing 1/4 of your pet's food to real proteins, fruits, or veggies is a great step! I want people to know it’s NOT an “all or nothing” approach. Just a few simple changes can make a difference.

What role does diet play in diseases like cancer, allergies, etc?

Food Is Medicine! We can help our immune system stay strong with foods that are balanced and nutrient-dense. Kibble can dry out their system, which can lead to allergies, flaky skin, metabolic disease processes, and poor health overall.

What about supplements for pets?

I love supplements for our pets because we can create specific add-ons for each of their different needs! Food can provide the basic nutrients, but I advocate for adding in Omega-3s for joint, cardiovascular, and brain health, plus a great Probiotic for gut health and immunity, and some form of CBD. Different issues call for other supplements as well - such as Boswellia for inflammation, Hawthorne Berry, and CoQ-10 for cardiac issues.

CBD oil is proving to have lots of medicinal benefits even for pets. What are your thoughts?

I love CBD! When there is a quality product, such as Blooming Culture, it can really help the pet. I’ve seen improvements with arthritis pain, anxiety, seizure disorders, offsetting chemo affects, cognition, and the overall quality of life as pets age.

Pet parents rely on their Vets to advise them on any and all types of treatment protocols. But they will not talk about CBD because legally they are prohibited.  How do you feel about the California law that just passed about giving Vets the okay to talk about CBD with their patients?

This is huge! As veterinarians, we are here to provide care and guidance for animals and their families. Being able to inform and teach our clients about the benefits of CBD, and caution about human products with THC has decreased the incidents of marijuana toxicity in pets. It’s so important that pet parents have their vets to turn to about how to appropriately use CBD.

Pets are living longer because of miracle drugs and enhanced lifestyles and that’s a good thing. The downside is that the aging process does not stop and elder pets live with ailments for many years which diminishes their quality of life. Can you address this problem?     

I see this all the time, and that’s why I made the change from clinic life to the Balanced Pet Vet! Acupuncture, laser therapy, and massage are treatments that can help with immediate and ongoing pain relief with no side effects. Plus, they love all the TLC! I advocate preventative care starting at a young age to set them up for a long, wonderful life. Better diet, supplements to aid in balancing their health, keeping our pets lean, engaging in activity/play/mental stimulation to keep their minds sharp are all ways we promote the best quality of life for them! We can’t stop the aging process, but we can make adjustments at every life stage to help ease their transition. 

If a pet parent wants you to be part of their treatment team, what do they need to do?

Reach out! If you aren’t in my service area, I still try to provide pertinent information on my website and Instagram for common issues that I see.  Before working with clients, I obtain their medical history so we can make the best decisions for care moving forward. There have been times where I urge them to see certain specialists or have a test run before I see them. It is important to get the whole picture of the pet’s health in order to best serve them.

What is the biggest thing you want clients to take away for your approach?

I want them to know there are multiple options that can all work together! And it’s not an all or nothing approach - small changes can make a big difference. The integrative approach can really help heal your pet and restore life back into them. As a veterinarian I advocate for animal health, supporting the human-animal bond, and having open, real, and informative conversations about your pet’s health and wellbeing. I’m here as support for both you and your fur baby.

What is your long term vision for the Balanced Pet Vet?

My goal is to spread the word about integrative medicine and to destigmatize alternative medicine and CBD use. I think it’s important as a vet to be a source where animal lovers can obtain information on true pet health, wellbeing, and geriatric care instead of trying to figure it out for themselves. We need to look at the entire animal, instead of treating only one specific issue, and I want to teach people how to do so. Preventative medicine and health is the key to an exceptional quality of life!