No more appointments

As of 2014 I do not offer consultations in private practices anymore. I am pursuing my work as researcher and lecturer at university  … more 


Teaching animal husbandry and care

Since 2011 I teach for the Swiss animal dealer association in Lausanne. This year I also participate in the training of animal keepers at the professional school EPSIC in Lausanne.  … more 


Radioprogram on animal communication

A subject that annoys, surprises, triggers smiles or disdain, and yet aleviates our daily grind some times. We are talking about animal communication. A radioprogram in French  … more 

white necked crane

What is system-oriented veterinary medicine?

System-oriented veterinary medicine bases on systems theory

System-oriented veterinary medicine assumes that health is defined through its thermodynamic properties (details in German, pdf, 138KB). Thus, it is working specifically towards this point and regards symptoms as indicators that are not treated primarily. It considers the complex structure and adaptability of biological organisms and social systems. Precursors of systems theory have coined the name of complex adaptive systems (CAS). In the medical context the conventionally examined static conditions are replaced by the examination of their dynamics. CAS have cyclic behaviour. Examples are the day-night-rhythm, seasonal moult and many more. A biological organism consists of many sub- and super-systems whose cyclic behaviour need to be coordinated (coupled). Such systems are adaptive as they are able to change their behaviour in function of external influences. This results in a learning process in its largest sense and applies to individuals as much as to social systems. When cycles in CAS are uncoupled or if their capacity to adapt is overstrained, their overall performance is reduced. If this state persists disease will develop. Thus, health is a meta-condition, defined by harmonic, cyclic and directed dynamics within the naturally defined limitations of a biological system.

Animals and social units are complex adaptive systems (CAS)

An animal in terms of an organism represents a CAS, which in turn builds a system with its direct environment (owner, family, other pets, enclosure, nutrition etc.). During the visit at the veterinarian, the vet himself becomes part of this system by interacting with the animal and the owner. His task is to detect uncoupled and overstrained elements and to maintain the learning process of the pet-owner-system within physiologically optimal limits. A prerequisite for this is that he can recognise more than the pet owner and that he disposes of methods to re-establish a harmonic equilibrium.

Under natural conditions animals maintain their own health

I take it that in nature, every animal is able to maintain its own health in principal. If this is not possible under captive conditions the origin of the problem generally is captivity per se.

To be able to interact with his environment successfully, man reduces it to a rationally conceivable image in his brain. This can have severe consequences for organisms in his care. As an example from animal breeding, the reduction of a milk cow to milking performance parameters has led to a reduction of its adaptability compared to the wild type. This becomes evident as heat intolerance, teat or joint problems that have meanwhile been considered and corrected in present breeding programs. Breeding has a lagged influence on animals in which human selection has consequences over generations later. A much more immediate example is the malnutrition of a young animal that will lead to malformations or malpositions in short time. The shorter the interval between the human interaction and the effect in reality is, the more obvious the associations are.

Man defines the environment of animals

In daily practice this means that every pet owner acts to his best knowledge and understanding, but has to realise that he does not entirely comply to nature's laws. An honest conversation without accusations can work wonders and acute problems can be treated with drugs until the husbandry has been changed effectively.

A problem is real if a pet owner conceives it

More and more often patients visit the practice whose problems have received an unpronounceable name after a plethora of investigations or that are simply not recognised as a problem by orthodox medicine. The so called solutions lead to an increasingly restricted life style by avoiding allergens, noise, stress etc. which are integral part of today's reality. To alleviate these behavioural restraints, drugs are administered to suppress the natural reactions at the origin of the process.

Orthodox medicine meets its boundaries

On my quest for an alternative to this negation I have studied various alternative therapies and explanatory models. With exception of the traditional Chinese medicine none of them provided an alternative epistemology and thus face the same problems as orthodox medicine. I personally favour the Taoism, the origin of the Far Eastern martial and healing arts, to overcome my subjectivity in daily practice. With Taoist methods I obtain access to a holistic appreciation that permits new therapeutic approaches. Some call it a 6th sense or intuition; the Taoists call it original spirit. Whatever its name may be, it represents a mode of perception that can be learnt and developed and it may be used to diagnose as well as to treat wherever rational tools and the five senses fail. Regardless of this, its effect can well be appreciated with the five senses. Following the terms of traditional Chinese medicine I call it "work with qi" (氣, Mandarin "qi", Japanese "ki"). Currently, I don't offer these therapies, but I will refer you to competent collegues.

Further documents on systemic animal health, system theory and constructivist epistemology

Here I am continuously gathering more details on system theory, epistemology and the current state of science in regard to unexplained phenomena of life.


Unfortunately, there are no documents available yet


The following web sites include interesting further information. I have no influence on their content nor do I necessarily adhere to the stated opinions. The reference to these links is intended to broaden the field of discussion and I disclaim any responsibility for their contents.

Further reading

Further references are given in other languages

  • Real Science - what it is, and what it means, John Ziman 2000, ISBN: 0521893100, Cambridge University Press.
  • Representing and Intervening - introductory topics in the philosophy of natural sciences, Ian Hacking 1983, ISBN: 978-0521282468, Cambridge University Press.
  • Steps to an Ecology of Mind - collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution, and epistemology, Gregory Bateson 2000, ISBN: 978-0226039053, University of Chicago Press.
  • How real is real? Paul Watzlawick 1977, ISBN: 978-0394722566, Vintage.
  • Apology of Socrates and Crito by Plato, Reprint 2010, ISBN: 978-1144544391, Nabu Press.
  • Dao-de-jing by Lao Tsi, no particular version recommende
  • The book of the five rings of Miyamoto Musashi, translated by Thomas Cleary 2005, ISBN: 978-1590302484, Shambhala.
  • Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home - and other unexplained powers of animals, Rupert Sheldrake 2000, ISBN: 978-0609805336, Three Rivers Press.