The Open-Minded Advantage to Working With Animals

According to Dr. Ryn Marlowe, about 90% of what vets see in the exam room isn't what they learn to treat in veterinary school, but rather conditions related to lifestyle. That realization convinced this game changer to take a different approach once she started her own independent practice.

blending conventional alternative therapies


  • Today’s Pet Game Changer is Dr. Ryn Marlowe, owner of the Carolina Integrative Veterinary Hospital in Fort Mill, SC
  • Dr. Ryn started her practice so that she could do veterinary medicine her own way, integrating both traditional and holistic therapies
  • Dr. Ryn and her team work closely with each client to understand their needs and the needs of their animal companions
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Download Interview Transcript | Click here to watch the video

Today my guest is holistic veterinarian Dr. Ryn Marlowe, who was nominated for a Game Changer award by Gladys H. Dr. Ryn is the owner of the Carolina Integrative Veterinary Hospital in Fort Mill, SC, a unique practice tailored to each individual pet’s needs. She and her team offer comprehensive, empathetic, and client-driven integrative care.

Running Out of Ways to Fix Things

Dr. Ryn says she knew very early in life that she wanted to be a veterinarian.

"My mom remembers me bringing home injured birds in shoeboxes when I was five years old," she explains. "Helping animals has always felt like a calling to me. I've never considered doing anything else. I've been in the industry about 20 years total. I was 20 when I started working in veterinary hospitals, and then I went to veterinary school and graduated in 2011.
After about three years in practice, I started running out of ways to fix things. A perfect example would be a 12-year-old arthritic, gorgeous, bighearted pit bull that can barely walk, and I’m saying to the owners, ‘I have him on every single drug that exists that could help him, and there's nothing else I can do for him.’
So, I decided to go back to school, to the Chi Institute in Florida, where I learned under the founder, Dr. Xie. I'm very blessed that I was able to learn acupuncture from him. Then I went back for training in herbs, and I realized that once you take a bite of holistic medicine and open your mind, you’re driven to keep learning, and you never stop."

I’d say about 90% of what veterinarians see in the exam room isn't trauma or infectious disease — the things we learned to treat in vet school — but rather degenerative lifestyle disease-related conditions that we didn't necessarily have any training for. This is where holistic and integrative medicine can play such an important role.

Blending Conventional and Alternative Therapies

Dr. Ryn considers herself to be an integrative practitioner because she understands the importance of blending conventional with holistic therapies.

"I really believe in evidence-based medicine, but my goal is to stay as open-minded as possible and learn as much as I can about alternative therapies so that I can use different modalities," she says.
"I think that's helped my colleagues accept me, in that if an animal comes in and has a horrible case of pneumonia, I'm going to put them on antibiotics. I'm still using conventional therapies — I’m just adding effective alternative therapies to my protocols as well.
I do try to get all my patients off kibble if I can. Not everyone can do it. And some of my colleagues think it’s crazy. But I think veterinarians need to become a little more open-minded and think outside the box.
One of the benefits of opening a startup practice is that you can do what you want. I don't have a boss that's like, ‘Okay, Ryn, you need to tone it down. Quit pushing the home-cooked diets, or maybe stop giving so many herbs.’ I can really practice exactly how I want and blend my goals with my clients' goals."

Working With Animals Is a Lifelong Passion

I asked Dr. Ryn what she loves most about her work.

"It’s the contact with animals," she replies. "I never tire of seeing the dogs and cats who come into my practice. I thoroughly enjoy animals, and that has yet to fade in me. Every day, I look forward to handling them and working with them. I also love developing the culture that I’ve created in my startup, where I can have a relationship with the pet owners based on empathy and mutual understanding and trust.
I set aside all the time we need to have open conversations and work together. It makes my job so much more enjoyable than when it was all about get in, get out, get things going, and money, money, money. When you're able to really stop and listen and think and work together as a team, it just makes everything go so much smoother."

If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Ryn’s practice, you can visit the website at Carolina Integrative Veterinary Hospital.

"If you call and tell us what's going on, we'll set you up with the right team," says Dr. Ryn. "We work closely with our clients. For example, we have clients who don’t want any pharmaceuticals for their pets, and we work with that.
And we have clients who are just learning, and we work with them, too. Our team is very good at deciding when and where to put you in the schedule and how much time to give you. So, giving us a ring would be the first step."

Finally, I asked Dr. Ryn what one thing she would share with the world if she could.

"I think the best advice I could give to colleagues is to never be afraid of changing and adapting," she replies. "Keep your mind open to new evidence and just listen and be empathetic, because if you get stuck in your ways, you stop growing. Never stop adapting, because this world is changing every second, and we have to, as a profession, grow together."