In addition to offering natural, holistic care at our practice, one of my “specialties” is senior pet care, what is often referred to as gerontology in human medicine. I’m not sure why I’m especially drawn to these older pets. Maybe it’s because so many other doctors don’t seem to appreciate their special needs, or maybe it’s because so many of our senior pets have chronic illnesses which respond beautifully to natural therapies (and unfortunately, there are very few conventional medicines that really make a difference in the lives of patients with chronic diseases.) Regardless, I always enjoy the challenge of working with our older dog and cat patients, which make up over 50% of our practice.
Typical of many pet owners was a recent case I saw. Sam and Dianna brought in their 15 year old poodle Hank. Hank had really bad teeth (I estimated he was overdue for a dental cleaning for several years) and several warts on his body that would cause him to itch and bleed. Hank also had a heart murmur (for which he was taking 3 different potent heart medications.)They had come to me because they wanted us to clean Hank’s teeth and remove his bleeding warts and hoped we could help him stop “acting old.”
I asked them why their previous veterinarian hadn’t done cleaned his teeth or removed his wart. Their response, typical of these types of cases, was that their veterinarian thought that “Hank was too old” and might die under anesthesia. My response was “Too old for what-proper health care?!”
It’s rare that I ever see a pet that is “too old” for proper care, including anesthesia. It is true that many doctors fear anesthesia of senior pets, who often have health issues (such as Hank had with his heart condition) and have special anesthetic needs. If a veterinarian doesn’t’ feel comfortable giving anesthesia to an older pet with health issues, he shouldn’t do the procedure. At least the doctor is being honest in admitting his lack of comfort in doing a procedure.
However, this doesn’t mean that the procedure can’t be done safely. In Hank’s case, we further evaluated his “heart condition” and realized he didn’t need ANY of his medications. Switching him from expensive medicines to several natural therapies was all he needed to keep his heart healthy.
Second, we used a holistic approach to his anesthesia, which allowed him to quickly recover after the dental cleaning and wart removal, so he could return home within minutes of fully waking up.
Following his dental cleaning and wart removal, Sam reported that Hank was acting like a puppy again and felt great. This was no doubt due to replacing unnecessary heart medications with natural therapies and cleaning his horrible teeth, relieving his oral pain and removing the infection and inflammation from his mouth and body, and restoring health. Most of our senior pets feel great once their teeth are cleaned, and Hank was no exception.
I should note that Sam and Dianna had asked about cleaning Hank’s teeth without anesthesia. I explained to them that this is malpractice as it’s impossible to do a thorough cleaning with an awake pet. While there are some (mainly non-veterinarians) who perform this service, all they really do is scrape tartar off of the teeth which doesn’t address the underlying problem of periodontal disease. Additionally, non-veterinarians can’t be held to the same high standards of care as veterinarians, and if there are any problems with the procedure they can’t be sued for lack of proper care. By using a holistic approach to anesthesia, most pets, regardless of age or health, can be safely anesthetized and properly treated.
I’m often asked how pets can receive holistic care if a holistic veterinarian does not practice in your area. After all, while it’s great to desire a more natural approach to pet care, how can you accomplish this goal if all of the veterinarians in your area only offer conventional therapies and don’t agree with your choice to be more natural?
The answer is the phone appointment. Each week I do a number of phone consultation appointments in my office for clients who do not live in our area but who would like to get help using a holistic approach to health care. It’s very easy to do and costs the same as a regular in- person appointment in our office.
If you would like me to put together a health plan for your pet to keep your pet healthy, or need help with any specific illnesses or medical problems, you can easily set up a phone consultation by calling our office at 972-867-8800 extension 0. Please leave a message if we are busy helping someone else and we will return your call as soon as possible and schedule the phone appointment at a time that is convenient for you that fits into our daily appointment schedule.
And of course, visit www.petcarenaturally.com anytime to get free information on a variety of pet care topics (currently there are several hundred articles on natural pet care on the site)