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Holistic Veterinary Medicine…Helpful Treatment or Terrible Hoax?

– Update on Missouri Prop B (Puppy Mill Act) vote
– Holistic Veterinary Medicine…Helpful Treatment or Terrible Hoax?

Transcript of this week’s episode of The Web-DVM:

Welcome everybody to The Web-DVM. I am your host, Dr. Roger Welton, practicing veterinarian and Veterinary News Network Reporter. Let’s start with a quick news update, Missouri’s Proposition B narrowly, but decidedly passed by 51% of the vote this past election. For those of you that did not catch my show headlining this ballot measure, this bill is known as the “Puppy Mill Act,” legislation drafted to combat the state of Missouri’s notoriously tolerated puppy mill abuses.

Specifically, the law limits breeding operations to no more than 50 breeding animals, requires that they be housed indoors and in a manner that gives them unfettered access to exercise. Breeding animals also must be fed daily (imagine that!), and receive yearly veterinary wellness check-ups by a licensed veterinarian. Breeders must submit to regular inspections to prove compliance, and violations of the law will result in a $300 fine or 15 days in jail per offense.

Now I have been vocal about this law falling short in really preventing puppy mill abuse both in its language and lax penalties, however, change for the better often takes time and it is a start. I therefore congratulate Missouri who chose humanity over cruelty and greed, taking the first step to quelling what has been a long standing tolerance of puppy mill cruelty in the USA.

On to our headline topic this evening, in our westernized society, alternative forms of therapy and medicine are often viewed with suspicion and occasionally, outright disbelief. Practices like acupuncture, acupressure or even homeopathy have many critics. Still, when it comes to resolving their pets’ ills, some pet owners are willing to take a chance on a non-traditional treatment.

Holistic medicine is generally defined as medical care of the whole pet, including environment, social and personal factors as opposed to the focus of treating just the disease. Integrative medicine, an approach that I embrace as offering the patient the best overall health care, embraces both conventional Western styles with holistic practices. Many people refer to non-traditional medicine as alternative or even complementary medicine.

These non-conventional approaches include therapies as diverse as acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic care, and traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, aka, TCVM. Some veterinarians, like Dr. Aleda Cheng, a TCVM practitioner and certified veterinary acupuncturist, go as far as including high-tech procedures such as stem cell therapy, and cold laser pain relief under the alternative umbrella. As Dr. Cheng says, “all of these treatments help the body heal itself”.
Other alternative practices include herbal medicine, homeopathy and other therapies that might sound a little more exotic but are less well known.

Considerable skepticism still remains for these alternative therapies. Although the site is geared towards human medicine, has made its mission to disclose health related frauds. The major opposition centers on a lack of controlled scientific evidence and dubious diagnostic and therapeutic standards.
But, it’s hard to argue with individual success stories. Dr. Cheng relays how a German Shepherd, decorated for his work on 9/11, suffered from a painful degenerative spinal disease. The acupuncture treatments she performed allowed this dog to continue his search and rescue career, free from lameness and pain.
The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society or IVAS, is also trying to combat the “lack of evidence” argument. Through certification processes and collection of case studies, IVAS hopes to bring acupuncture into the mainstream of practice. For pet owners seeking acupuncture, the IVAS seal is an important credential.

Dr. Brian Voynick cautions that it is important for alternative practitioners to “be a veterinarian first and get a diagnosis”. He describes a limping dog whose owner went to a human chiropractor. After four chiropractic treatments, the dog was still lame and acupuncture was recommended. Dr. Voynick saw the dog on referral and found that his left rear leg was painful and swollen. After taking x-rays, it was determined that the dog had an aggressive bone cancer!

Pets, like their human caretakers, are individuals and it is possible that some animals may respond to these treatments. Certified veterinary acupuncturist and noted author on alternative therapies, Dr. Doug Knueven reminds owners that “integrative medicine is most beneficial for the pet”. He also believes many complementary treatments are more mainstream than people realize. “Glucosamine was once alternative medicine”, he says, “but now is widely accepted.”

When your pet is ill or suffering, make sure you and your veterinarian can reach a diagnosis for your pet before rushing off to try a novel treatment you heard about on the Internet. If you have a strong belief that a holistic approach would benefit your pet, discuss this option with your veterinarian, as integrative medicine is increasingly becoming the accepted means of our approach to veterinary health care.
That is my show for this evening ladies and gentlemen. Please remember to catch my live call-in internet radio show that airs live Wednesdays 9 PM EST from a player embedded at my blog at, where this show is also embedded and there are bonus content and links.

Don’t forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:

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Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website

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