Health: Vet takes holistic approach to pet health
May 30, 2011
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – You could say that Kobe and Thorn are experienced when it comes to alternative medicine.
There aren’t many treatments the two haven’t tried, including homeopathy, acupuncture, massage and chiropractor visits. What’s unusual is that Kobe is an 11-year-old Australian shepherd/collie mix, and Thorn is a 20-year-old cat.
“If it can help humans, why can’t it also help animals?” said their owner, Gypsum resident Valerie Valene.
Holistic care for animals
Just like many humans turn to holistic medicine or alternative therapies, some pet owners are looking for a different kind of treatment for their animals, as well.
Veterinarian Susan Klein, of Alpine Meadows Animal Clinic in Edwards, is a strong proponent of holistic animal care and said she’s seen an increase over the past couple of years in interested owners.
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“Part of the work is tapping into your intuition as a healer and looking beyond medical training to hear what the animal needs,” she said. “And people are receptive to it because animals are what take the weight off our souls. To watch them run and be happy and healthy – that’s the best medicine for anybody.”
Valene gave veterinary holistic treatments a try after her dog began having health problems, with symptoms that included wheezing, “reverse sneezing” and “bugged-out” eyes. Klein took a look at Kobe, put her hands on his head and adjusted something.
“Right away, his eyes popped back into his head. It was unbelievable, and I was sold,” Valene said.
Her pets also have seen acupuncturists and chiropractors. Her elderly cat Thorn seems to especially seem relaxed after acupuncture and seems to benefit from a raw food diet, she said.
Candace Langager began taking her dog Noe, an elderly vizsla, to Klein after Noe began having problems breathing, digestive issues and muscle and bone problems that left her limping and hurting. She was a bit skeptical at first, having never tried holistic treatment herself, much less on her dog.
“For people used to Western medicine, it seems kind of strange,” Langager said. “A lot of people refer to it as voodoo witch doctor stuff, but it’s really not. She has such a good sense and a gift with animals. She could tell right away what was going on with Noe, before I even said anything.”
Noe went on a therapy plan similar to Kobe’s and began improving. Langager said she believes the treatment extended and improved Noe’s life for almost a year and a half. The experience has made her into a “huge fan of Eastern medicine,” she said.
Klein’s brand of veterinary medicine also is unique in that she looks for causes to the ailment.
“If there’s a symptom, that usually means there’s something the body is trying to do to heal itself,” she said. “You can treat the symptom or the cause.
“If a dog comes in with blood in the urine, that might mean several things – it could be that it has a kidney infection and needs to go on antibiotics. Or it could be that he fell getting out of the bathtub and hurt himself that way. In that case, it might benefit from another treatment, as well.”
According to the vet, it’s about energies and frequencies from each animal (and person, for that matter) and their balance. Negative events or experiences such as car accidents, abuse or even stress in the life of the owner can manifest itself physically, Klein said.
“(The treatments) don’t require you to believe any of that stuff,” she said. “For example, most people know you might have structural symptoms – your neck and low back are tight and your stomach is upset – but started with a stressful event.”
Kobe was a stray dog for awhile and lived in several different homes before Valene adopted him. And as unusual as it sounds, Klein communicates with animals. From visits to the vet clinic, Valene said she’s learned that Kobe had suffered some neglect and abuse and been tied up for long periods of time when he was younger. Now she thinks that stress is manifesting itself in some physical problems.
“My dog usually only pays attention to me,” Valene said. “He’s very one-on-one, just with mom when I’m in the room – except for when Dr. Klein is there. Kobe will sit down and stare at her. It’s like Kobe is telling her tons of stuff.”
The whole concept may seem far-fetched to some and make perfect sense to others. But Klein reasons that animals communicate with us in their own way and that people’s relationships with their pets are so important because they love us without condition or judgement.
To make our pets feel better makes us feel better – or maybe the other way around, she said.
“If I work on a animal, I’m also inadvertently working on the person,” she said. “It’s rewarding to work on the animals, and it’s fascinating to see how humans respond.”