Mindful Metropolis August 2010 : Page 20

creature by daisy simmons More people are turning to holistic approaches for their pet’s health care W hen Aurora Rivett’s legs gave out, a mix of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine gave her back her mobility—and her life. She had been suffering intensively from arthritis, and drugs prescribed by conventional Western medicine hadn’t helped. But unlike most stories you’ve probably heard about the ben-efits of integrative care, this story is about a 15-year-old Dalmatian. Aurora’s human caretaker, Anna Rivett, sought out a holistic vet to find some alter-natives. “The acupuncture really helped. She was relaxed during the session, and we saw improvements immediately. She regained mobility and we were blessed to have her an-other year.” The Rivetts are not alone. More people are turning to holistic approaches— from nutritional counseling to hydrotherapy —for their pets’ health care. When holistic pros step in Holistic medicine aims to care for the whole body, mind and soul in a less invasive way than conventional Western medicine, and incorporates a range of techniques to sup-port long-term health. Some veterinary offices, like the Royal Treatment Veterinary Center in North Center, practice both Western and holistic 20 aUgUST 2010 COMFORT medicine, creating a one-stop-shop for pets’ wellness needs. Founder Dr. Barbara Royal, DVM, explains, “embracing the best in every discipline means we can find the best an-swer for every case—because they’re not all going to be the same.” Knowing how to use antibiotic and surgical options, yet stock-ing her proverbial toolbox with alternative treatments, allows her to deal with problems on a highly individual basis. Others completely focus on alternative and rehabilitative healing, in conjunction with traditional vets who recommend them for complementary care. Dr. Share Sewik, DVM, founder of Evanston’s Kindred Spirits Heal-ing Arts, focuses on “problem-solving when Western medicine isn’t addressing overall quality of life,” particularly with older ani-mals. Bucktown’s Integrative Pet Care (IPC) works primarily on rehabilitating animals, of-ten those who need extra care after surgery. IPC’s Dr. Molly Flaherty, DVM, states that providing such “adjunct treatment to conven-tional medical care maximizes pet health.” Jaime Clevenger, DVM, a veterinarian who practices traditional Western modali-ties, also sees value in the increased interest in alternative health. “Holistic medicine is a useful mindset for any doctor. One mistake many of us Western medicine practitioners make is to think about the cat as being sim-ply, for instance, ‘a diabetic,’ and not to think about the cat’s other important healthy or at-risk systems.” The clientele More and more people are thinking about al-ternative ways to treat their pets, whether it’s because they’ve benefited from things like acupuncture or herbal remedies themselves, or simply because they want to explore fur-ther ways to enhance their pet’s lives. Emelie Ortiz takes her long-haired Chi-huahua to a holistic vet because she likes knowing multiple options when it comes to Koa, whose name means “brave warrior” in Hawaiian and who has around 50 fans on Facebook. “Take teeth cleaning,” Ortiz says, “most dogs need to be put under general an-esthesia to get their teeth cleaned. This can be dangerous because there is a chance that some dogs won’t wake up (older dogs espe-cially).” Her vet offers anesthesia-free as well as traditional teeth cleaning. “I don’t believe that pharmaceuticals are always the answer,” she explains. Dr. Sewik finds that most people come to Kindred Spirits because they want to partici-pate in the animal’s healing. “They don’t turn the animal over to me. They are motivated and want to learn what they can do to help.” Food for thought Between visits, Drs. Sewik and Royal agree that the most important way to positively affect pet health is with a healthy diet. But with thousands of options and conflicting marketing campaigns, choosing food and supplements can seem daunting.

Creature Comfort

Daisy Simmons

When Aurora Rivett’s legs gave out, a mix of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine gave her back her mobility—and her life. She had been suffering intensively from arthritis, and drugs prescribed by conventional Western medicine hadn’t helped. But unlike most stories you’ve probably heard about the benefits of integrative care, this story is about a 15-year-old Dalmatian.<br /> <br /> Aurora’s human caretaker, Anna Rivett, sought out a holistic vet to find some alternatives.<br /> <br /> “The acupuncture really helped. She was relaxed during the session, and we saw improvements immediately. She regained mobility and we were blessed to have her another year.” The Rivetts are not alone. More people are turning to holistic approaches— from nutritional counseling to hydrotherapy —for their pets’ health care.<br /> <br /> When holistic pros step in Holistic medicine aims to care for the whole body, mind and soul in a less invasive way than conventional Western medicine, and incorporates a range of techniques to support long-term health.<br /> <br /> Some veterinary offices, like the Royal Treatment Veterinary Center in North Center, practice both Western and holistic medicine, creating a one-stop-shop for pets’ wellness needs. Founder Dr. Barbara Royal, DVM, explains, “embracing the best in every discipline means we can find the best answer for every case—because they’re not all going to be the same.” Knowing how to use antibiotic and surgical options, yet stocking her proverbial toolbox with alternative treatments, allows her to deal with problems on a highly individual basis.<br /> <br /> Others completely focus on alternative and rehabilitative healing, in conjunction with traditional vets who recommend them for complementary care. Dr. Share Sewik, DVM, founder of Evanston’s Kindred Spirits Healing Arts, focuses on “problem-solving when Western medicine isn’t addressing overall quality of life,” particularly with older animals.<br /> <br /> Bucktown’s Integrative Pet Care (IPC) works primarily on rehabilitating animals, often those who need extra care after surgery.<br /> <br /> IPC’s Dr. Molly Flaherty, DVM, states that providing such “adjunct treatment to conventional medical care maximizes pet health.” Jaime Clevenger, DVM, a veterinarian who practices traditional Western modalities, also sees value in the increased interest in alternative health. “Holistic medicine is a useful mindset for any doctor. One mistake many of us Western medicine practitioners make is to think about the cat as being simply, for instance, ‘a diabetic,’ and not to think about the cat’s other important healthy or at-risk systems.” The clientele More and more people are thinking about alternative ways to treat their pets, whether it’s because they’ve benefited from things like acupuncture or herbal remedies themselves, or simply because they want to explore further ways to enhance their pet’s lives.<br /> <br /> Emelie Ortiz takes her long-haired Chihuahua to a holistic vet because she likes knowing multiple options when it comes to Koa, whose name means “brave warrior” in Hawaiian and who has around 50 fans on Facebook. “Take teeth cleaning,” Ortiz says, “most dogs need to be put under general anesthesia to get their teeth cleaned. This can be dangerous because there is a chance that some dogs won’t wake up (older dogs especially).” Her vet offers anesthesia-free as well as traditional teeth cleaning. “I don’t believe that pharmaceuticals are always the answer,” she explains.<br /> <br /> Dr. Sewik finds that most people come to Kindred Spirits because they want to participate in the animal’s healing. “They don’t turn the animal over to me. They are motivated and want to learn what they can do to help.” Food for thought Between visits, Drs. Sewik and Royal agree that the most important way to positively affect pet health is with a healthy diet. But with thousands of options and conflicting marketing campaigns, choosing food and supplements can seem daunting.<br /> <br /> When Dr. Royal researched over 4,000 varieties of pet food, she found only 11 percent of them were healthy enough to feed a dog or cat. “Somehow we believe pet food companies rather than our common sense,” she says. “It used to be that we fed dogs leftover meat and scraps and they’d eat what they wanted. But suddenly people started saying it was so much easier to feed them kibbles with corn and feed—no one tested it—we just bought it because it seemed so easy.” That said, it may seem overwhelming to find the right chow, but Dr. Royal maintains that it’s not. “This is a carnivore and a scavenger. They wouldn’t be eating corn and wheat. Basic, inviolate rules of nutrition like that have saved me in practice.” She adds that these days it’s easy to find quality food without corn and wheat, though it may mean venturing beyond supermarket shelves.<br /> <br /> Organic, whole, and raw foods are all on the rise. Ortiz reports that because of a raw food diet, Koa “doesn’t shed much, his fur is soft and silky, he’s lost weight, and his allergies seem to have cleared up.” Dr. Sewik suggests not overcomplicating things and simply using the highest quality food appropriate for the animal. But since, as she says, “no one size fits all,” the main rule of thumb is to chat with the pros about the right diet.<br /> <br /> A healthy home The strongest support for a pet’s whole health happens at home. Dr. Sewik teaches frequent classes to give guardians “empowerment in taking care of animals.” She demonstrates techniques like massage, Reiki and acupressure that people can use to increase mobility and reduce pain, as well as to create a deeper bond with their pets.<br /> <br /> Another tip: Just do your best to create a comfortable life for your pet. Dr. Royal says the most important things are “good diet, appropriate treats, healthy living and fun. Keep it light. If a pet becomes a source of guilt, the animal feels it. Keep it feeling loved and not like a burden.” In the end, holistic pet care can contribute positively to a guardian’s whole health as well. Rivett says “the integrative vet’s treatments worked wonders. I had always asked Aurora to stick around to meet my children, and she did. She was there when I went into labor, and she was there to see my daughter crawl. I am so thankful that the holistic treatments gave us some extra time together.” Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago. She spent the last couple of years covering all things green for Ideal Bite, and now you can find her thoughts on the city’s eco-scene, food and community at daisysimmons.com.<br /> <br /> WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT<br /> <br /> For starters, plan for a lengthy initial consultation, which may include up to a 2-hour evaluation. Afterwards, checkups and treatment lengths will vary widely. A typical roster of services at an alternative, integrative, or holistic pet care office will include some or all of the following:<br /> <br /> Acupuncture: Strengthens the body’s immune system and improves the function of organ systems. Dr. Flaherty says the hair-thin needles “can stimulate immune responses and nervous system as well as alleviate pain.”<br /> <br /> Chiropractic: Manipulation of spine, joints, and soft tissues increases musculoskeletal and general health, alleviating dependence on long-term drugs.<br /> <br /> Chronic care/geriatric: Vets and clients work together to develop the best plan for aging or ill pets, covering everything from temperature control to home fitness.<br /> <br /> Herbal medicine, homeopathy, and supplements: There are many gentle, natural remedies, and each of the vets profiled here will help decide which are best for your pet.<br /> <br /> Laser therapy: Stimulates cell function and is an “effective means of inflammation reduction and pain management,” according to Dr. Flaherty.<br /> <br /> Massage: Relieves musculoskeletal pain, increases circulation to problem areas and reduces stress.<br /> <br /> Nutritional advice: A nourishing diet is the single most important way to enhance a pet’s health. More details in the next section.<br /> <br /> Water therapy: Hydrotherapy tools like a resistance pool and underwater treadmill benefit orthopedic and neurological conditions, aid blood circulation, and reduce inflammation. Both IPC and Royal Vet report success with dogs as well as cats.<br /> <br /> Aside from such services, a holistic vet will discuss all areas of a pet’s life, helping owners know how to best treat their pets at home. And unless the animal is chronically ill or aging, there’s no need to worry about overspending. Dr. Royal tries to reduce client dependence: “my goal is to get people away from vets and have their dog be a dog, their cat, a cat…to make life easier for them both.”<br /> <br /> FINDING YOUR MS. OR MR. RIGHT<br /> <br /> Before you can care for your pet’s body, mind and soul, you need to get one first, right? Skip the malls and the puppy mills, and adopt without fear. Though it’s ideal to know an animal’s history, good rescue/adoption agencies work hard to get the animals ready for new homes. And holistic care for a pet with a difficult history can work wonders. Dr. Royal, who’s on the board of PA WS Chicago, says she sees a lot of animals who were given up because they had problems like stress or poor nutrition—problems she says are often easy to solve with an alternative approach.<br /> <br /> Dr. Sewik takes it a step further, saying “when people find the right adopted animal, the one they were meant to be with, it changes the emotional, spiritual and physical health of both, making both parties a lot healthier and happier.”<br /> <br /> READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC!<br /> Visit mindfulmetropolis.com

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