This is a great question that was raised by an audience member during my lecture about raising a healthy pet holistically. I advised everyone to try and work with their pet's body. Not use ANTIs (anti=against) to oppose healing. Unfortunately, this is not always as easy as it sounds.
This person was concerned because their local vet was treating one symptom in particular (an ear problem) and it was not improving. On top of that, their pet was starting to have other problems (diarrhea). We talked about how the symptom was being addressed (palliated, suppressed, or cured) and about all of the available options.
She said that she was not aware of the other treatment possibilities (like making environmental and lifestyle changes, nutritional modification, fatty acid supplementation, homeopathy, etc.). This raises an excellent point. It is the entire reason d'Etat for the existence of this web site and my hours spent updating it.
How to Build a Veterinary Health Care Team
The answer is simple. But not so easy. Educating yourself is the first and most important step that you an take to help your pet. Become an informed vet med consumer. Dr. Google is your friend. Collect all available (hopefully reliable) information. There is a huge amount of it available nowadays. Possibly too much. Assimilate what you can, but how can you tell what is applicable and true??
This is exactly why I always urge pet owners that post questions on my Pet Chat forum to seek the opinion of Board Certified specialists. Internists, cardiologists, oncologists, etc. These vets are often experts in their respective fields. They can look at the info that you have gathered and help you to make an informed decision about it. If however, you consult anyone that discounts your opinions and wishes altogether, you may want to go elsewhere before making a treatment decision.
The next step in this information gathering is to consult with a veterinarian who is trained in taking a step back from the specific problem at hand. Someone who will look at your pet as a whole. This includes early history, onset of the problem, available diagnostic information, opinions of Board Certified specialists, etc. Some conventionally-trained local vets will do this, some internists, etc. Unfortunately, some (most?) don't.
You now have your own research (from the internet, other pet owners, etc.), input from your local vet, a veterinary specialist, as well as a holistically-oriented vet. Don't worry if none of your local vets have adopted a holistic approach. As with some vet specialists, some of holistic and homeopathic vets will consult long-distance with you and your local vet. Phone, e-mail and video conferencing are very effective methods for remote consultation.
Once you have all of the available options for treatment of your pet, you can decide, using the information that you have gathered, what to do. Perhaps you decide that you want to keep doing what you are already doing. Great. That's easy! Perhaps though you'd rather pursue further diagnostics. You can work further with the specialist. Holistic and homeopathic options. Make an appointment with the holistic vet.
No matter what. Don't give up. Keep looking and working to resolve the problem until you are satisfied that everything possible is being done for your pet.