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Healing the whole animal

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Holistic pet care is an emerging trend in the pet health arena. “I recognized the need to look at things from the ‘whole’ perspective of the animal early on,” said Jean Dodds, a pioneer in the field of holistic veterinary medicine and founder of Hemopet, the largest animal blood bank in the country, headquartered in Garden Grove, Calif.

“Now we can discuss holistic care openly. But back then, people used to scream at me and walk out when I lectured on the subject,” laughs Dodds.

As acupuncture and nutritional guidance are increasingly referred to in many veterinarians’ offices, it seems clear that things have changed since 1959, when Dodds became one of the first women to attend The Ontario Veterinary College.

Paving the way

Dodds is a woman accustomed to charting her own course.

The same veterinarian who launched the first non-profit blood bank for dogs is now opening a groundbreaking facility in holistic veterinary health and recovery, called the Restore Health Center. The multimillion dollar center (serving as the new headquarters for Hemopet) will offer alternative, transitional or emergency care for six to eight weeks for dogs and cats that are in the process of healing, but not yet ready to go home.

The fact is that most veterinarians lack space for animals who are recovering from surgery or an accident. So, if your dog breaks his leg and you work full time, your options for care are extremely limited. And your cat may likely recover from surgery more quickly with on-site acupuncture, physiotherapy, chiropractic care, and herbal medicine, as well as aromatherapy -- all offered at the Restore Health Center. The Center will also offer a home veterinary nursing service for those who might need additional help once their pets are finally able to come home.

Seeing results

Over the course of her career, Dodds has watched holistic methods heal animals with profound results.

Consider the case of a shih tzu in her care, who was diagnosed with fatal non responsive bone marrow in 2005. Dodds prescribed the GARD diet (glutamate and aspartate restricted diet), which she had found to be particularly effective in animals with liver conditions and/or damage. After adhering to the diet for a year, it was no longer necessary for the now healthy dog to receive transfusions every three weeks.

Though she is still securing funds for the cutting-edge project, Dodds believes the Restore Health Center will begin a long overdue trend around the country. “The whole world seems more aware of diet and nutrition, and they are increasingly aware of other treatment modalities, like chiropractic care and acupuncture,” said Dodds, who also predicts that there will be even stronger interaction between holistic and allopathic veterinarians in the future.

Three holistic tips for pet owners:

  • Keep your pet’s life as free of stress as possible for optimal health. For instance, don’t leave them alone for too long during the day.
  • Remember that prevention and nutrition can improve the health of your pet.
  • More vaccinations are not necessarily better. “I’m not against vaccinations. I’m for the proper use of vaccinations,” said Dodds, who suggests asking your vet for a preventive care package, rather than scheduling too many vaccinations in one day.
Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D>
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