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What is Holistic Medicine for Dogs and Cats?

What Is Holistic Medicine?

Holistic medicine encompasses a variety of modalities including acupuncture, herbs, nutrition counseling and supplementation, chiropractic and homeopathy. A holistic medical approach can be utilized for many chronic health issues including cancer, allergies, gastrointestinal issues, auto-immune diseases, food intolerances, and hormonal imbalances such as thyroid imbalances, Cushing’s disease and others.  Sometimes, a holistic approach is best used to complement a conventional treatment modality and at other times it can be used as the sole approach.

The term “holistic approach” is often used describe more basic lifestyle choices as well. Many people who seek advice on holistic choices for their pets are looking for alternative options for feeding their pets and preventing infectious diseases that come from ticks and other parasites. They seek to prevent disease rather than wait for it to occur before addressing their pets’ health issues. A holistic approach to a pet’s health can also be particularly helpful when a pet is starting to show signs of age.  Holistic choices (including holistic medicine) can preserve an animal’s health and vitality and may even, in some cases, turn back the clock with better health and lifestyle choices.

Medical Philosophy

You are your pet’s companion and caretaker.  As a healer and medical professional my goal is to provide you with all the information you need to make informed decisions about what works for your pet’s basic health and medical care. We work together to determine not only what is best for your pet, but also for your budgetary and time constraints. There is no cookie-cutter approach to health care, particularly in holistic medicine where the options are often limitless.  My passion is to help clients consider their options and to feel empowered to make decisions for their pet’s care, be it in the prime of their life or in their twilight years.

Educational Background and Professional Training

B.A. in French (1993), Tufts University.

Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (DVM, 2002), The Ohio State University. Magna cum laude.

Internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery (2002-2003) at The Animal Medical Center, NY, NY.  Awarded with the Employees’ Veterinarian of the Year Award for outstanding and significant contribution to the hospital.

Advanced training in Veterinary Acupuncture (2005-2006), IVAS (International Veterinary Acupuncture Society)

Master in Public Health (MPH, 2012), The University at Albany.

Ongoing education and training in Chinese herbal medicine, Chi Institute.

Personal Background and Inspiration

My professional aspirations started as early as the first grade when I first expressed an interest in veterinary medicine.  These aspirations went through several incarnations, however, and for some time I thought I might pursue a degree in human medicine and specialize in geriatric work (in humans).  All of this changed when, in 1994 (my first year in Idaho), I experienced a more-than-normal number of episodes of winter-related flu-like viruses.  Frustrated with my ability to stay healthy despite a healthy life-style, I sought advice from a conventional primary doctor.  Not the least bit interested in treating my most recent respiratory illness, I asked my doctor why an otherwise-healthy young woman like myself was continually falling ill despite a healthy lifestyle.  The doctor ausculated my chest with a stethoscope, assured me I did NOT have pneumonia and prescribed me with an antibiotic (despite being confident there was no bactierial infection).

Frustrated, I spoke with local friends who were more savvy than I about health care and they recommended I see a naturopath.  I was 23 years old at the time and had never heard of a naturopath, but was open to just about anything at that point.  Well…. needless to say, the experience rocked. my. world.  A two hour consult complete with applied kinesiology, chiropractic, homeopathy and nutritional counseling.  I followed his recommendations and didn’t fall ill again for FOUR years (a near lifetime for me at the time) when I was in vet school and fully stressed and maxed out with work.  The experience changed my entire perspective on medicine and I knew immediately, THIS was how I wanted to practice medicine.

Many years later, I have a healthy respect and awe for conventional medicine.  It does miraculous things for us when acute crises are upon us.  However, in our modern world, chronic health issues are much more prevalent than in previous eras when antibiotics and other life-saving medications did not exist.  Thanks to these modern-day developments, we are all living longer lives.  But are we living BETTER lives?  The answer to this is becoming, increasingly, “no”.

I consider myself more holistic than conventional at this point, simply because most of my patients require little conventional medicine when fed a proper diet.  Nonetheless, I pride myself in knowing when my holistic approach has reached its limits and am quick to refer to conventional specialists when warranted.

On a personal note, in order to stay in touch with my own medical approach, I do my best to practice what I preach. My emphasis, both at home and in my work, is on a healthful diet with very limited supplementation from vitamins, probiotics, etc.  In addition to subscribing to a local CSA for organic vegetables for half the year, I maintain two large vegetable gardens, raise chickens for eggs and and am expanding into growing fruit as well.  My animals are fed a raw diet and are virtually never in need of veterinary care.  While we do consult with conventional doctors when needed, we are more likely to see our chiropractor or acupuncturist when we are ill, rather than our D.O.

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