Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Needless Treatment of Pets

By Tanya Stephens

The emergence of complementary and alternative medicine in veterinary clinics is a serious threat to animal welfare and the reputation of veterinarians.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The postmodern mindset has had serious implications for the standing of science in general, and veterinary science has not been immune. At its extreme, postmodernism views science as simply one among a variety of subjective explanations for the way we perceive the physical world. Science is downgraded to mere opinion, and scientists’ professional voices are diminished.

One consequence of this postmodern context is not only the burgeoning of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) for humans, but the equivalent in veterinary science – the emergence of complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM).These “alternatives” to veterinary medical science pose a serious threat to the maintenance of ethical standards within the profession since they are not based on the scientific method and rigour expected of a professional body of practitioners.

In their 2004 book, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Considered, which examines the usefulness of CAVM extensively, D.W. Ramey and B.E. Rollin posed some highly pertinent questions:

Is it acceptable for a professional to do just anything under the guise of good intentions, or do they have an obligation to show that they are actually doing something helpful for the animals for which they care? If they do have such an obligation, then clearly, they must separate safe treatments from unsafe, and...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.