Whether it’s acupuncture, homeopathy or a raw food diet, more veterinarians are expanding their approaches and more pet owners are shedding negative perceptions of
By Marnette Federis / The Bulletin
Published: January 25. 2010 4:00AM PST
Inside an examination room at the Holistic Clinic for Animals in Bend, veterinarian Susan Bertram gently strokes a thin black-and-white dog. Maggie, a McNab herding dog, stands rigid and anxious on top of the exam table while Bertram feels for a pulse underneath one hind leg. The exam is part of the physical check Maggie gets whenever she’s at the clinic.
But the 7-year-old animal is not there for a regular doctor’s exam; she’s there for acupuncture.
A few moments later, Bertram places a needle on top of Maggie’s head, a calming point, to help the dog relax, Bertram says. Later, she pushes more needles into different parts of Maggie’s body.
With an assistant’s arm around Maggie to keep her lying down, the dog starts to look more at ease. Bertram leaves the needles in for 15-20 minutes.
Maggie’s owner, Whitney Rhetts, said the acupuncture has done wonders for her dog, who suffers from chronic inflammatory bowel syndrome. But instead of conventional medicine, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, Rhetts opted for alternative pet care that includes a restricted diet, herbs and acupuncture every two weeks.
“It’s working,” Rhetts said. “We’ve been doing this over a year; she’s definitely improved.”
Rhetts is among the growing number of owners seeking alternative care for pets, local veterinarians say. These treatments might include acupuncture and homeopathy, which uses small doses of natural medicines and remedies.
In 2007, 38 percent of adults in the United States used some form of alternative medicine for themselves, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Local veterinarians say that once people start turning toward natural medicine, it’s not a far leap for them to try to find similar treatments for their animals.
“As a result of people’s personal experience toward more natural methods, they tend to choose natural healing modalities for their pets,” said Leslie Griffith, a veterinarian with Sage Veterinary Alternatives in Bend.
In Central Oregon, Bertram’s Holistic Clinic for Animals and Sage Veterinary Alternatives are two places owners may be referred to for alternative care.
The combination of traditional and alternative medicine in veterinary practices has gained more respect within the field, says Deborah Hodesson, another veterinarian in Bend. She has a more standard veterinary practice, but she’ll often refer clients to doctors knowledgeable about alternative treatments.
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