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Why Not Alternative Medicine? (Part 3 of a 3 Part Series)

In this final episode covering the use of alternative medicine in every day practice, I will be offering 3 real case examples of how I have used integrative medicine, that is, the combination of both western and alternative medicine, to treat each respective patient.

Case # 1: 8 year old female Australian Shepherd presented with severe pain and paralysis of the rear limbs. The pain was localized to the thoracolumbar spine (mid-back), and spinal x-rays and examination determined that she had likely herniated 3 intervertebral disks in her back.

The western approach:

This dog needed immediate pain relief and reduction of inflammation to try to free up some of the compression of the spinal cord causing pain and paralysis of the rear limbs. I gave a muscle relaxer and steroid injection intravenously, as well as an injection of a morphine derivative pain reliever.

The alternative approach:

The dog was given a low level laser treatment over the injured region of her back, as well as a an anti-inflammatory, connective tissue restoring and anti-inflammatory nutraceutical injection called Adequan.  Over the course of 3 weeks, the patient received a total of 6 of these treatments.  By laser/adequan treatment 4, the dog had regained full function of her rear limbs and was pain free.  By treatment 6, we had weaned off all steroids, muscle relaxers, and pain medications.  We later integrated acupuncture into her alternative management plan, put her on hte precription Hills J/D diet to support her musculoskeletal system, and she continues to come in for alternating laser and acupuncture maintenance treatment.

Case # 2: Cat fell asleep on the owner’s RV engine and suffered severe head trauma, severe burn wounds, and full body lacerations from the engine.

The western approach

Patient was in a near comatose state when she presented, and she also had sustained severe blood loss.  Supportive care was the first priority, so she was given shock doses of intravenous fluids, a blood transfusion, and dopamine to increase her blood pressure, and a morphine derivative injection for pain relief.  She was then fitted with a morphine derivative pain patch to provide long term pain relief.  Given the contaminated nature of her wounds and the nature off her wounds being very prone to infection, she was put on 2 intravenous antibiotics.

Despite the alternative therapies described below, the patient also had to undergo 2 surgical procedures to amputate necrotic toes and trim away necrotic tissue from the tips of her ears.

The alternative approach

In order to facilitate healing of the burn wounds and lacerations, she was given 3 therapy laser treatments per week for a month, as well as spent time in a hyperbaric chamber.  She was given a sea salt/seaweed , soothing naturally antibacterial spray.  She was and continues to be fed a diet supplemented with omega-3-fatty acids for their anti-inflammatory properties and for that fact that they also condition and nourish the skin.  Despite missing most of her toes, she was able to keep her central pads and gets around remarkably well.  There was no irreversible brain damage and her burn wounds not only healed, but she regrew most of her hair.

Case # 3: 8 year male neutered King Charles Cavalier Spaniel presented with vomiting and not eating or drinking for 48 hours.  On presentation, he was jaundiced (yellow pallor to the whites of his eyes, his gums and skin) and severely dehydrated.

The western approach

The patient was immediately started on shock doses of intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and anti-nausea/GI protective medication.  The combination of blood work, x-rays, ultrasound, plus ultrasound guided needle aspirates of his liver, yielded a diagnosis of chronic active hepatitis, a debilitating inflammatory disease of dogs.  With this confirmed diagnosis, I added a steroid to his medical regimen, as well as a gall bladder contractile agent to flush his gall ballder and liver.  He was discharged on an oral steroid and gall bladder contractile agent for long term maintenance care.

The alternative approach

In addition to the long term maintenance therapies that the patient was sent home with for long term treatment, from the alternative side, he was also discharged on a supplement with milk thistle and SAM-E, as well as an omega-3-fatty acid supplement.  His diet was a liver sparing and nourishing prescription formulation from Hills call L/D.  The diet is fortified with vitamin E and other powerful free radical scavengers, is highly digestible, and reduces the workload of the liver by providing protein of high biological value (protein that is mostly utilized by the body with little excreted as waste).  The patient maintained excellent quality of life for 3 more years until he succumbed to disease at the age of 11.  Given the gravity of this disease, average life expectancy beyond diagnosis is 9-12 months…he more than tripled that life expectancy.

Ladies and gentlemen, integrative medicine, the combination of both alternative and western medicine is what is best both for us and our pets.  These cases are just a few amoung thousands of cases that I have used integrative medicine to treat and manage very serious disease.  Although integrative medicine is still a fledgling field in the human medicine because of insurance companies not covering most alternative modalities, because of ego, and because of simply obstinate health care providers; it is gaining momentum in veterinary medicine.  Practitioners of integrative veterinary medicine are out there and numbers are increasing every day.  Take the time to find these kinds of practitioners…your pets will live longer lives with better quality for it.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne, FL and founder/CEO of


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