Every week, my clients ask me why other veterinarians don’t use a holistic approach to pet health care. My answer? They don’t know why it would benefit their patients.
I remember the exact moment when I knew that I needed to make a change. I was in my second year of veterinary college when my dog, Lucy, got sick. That morning she looked depressed and had vomited several times during the night so I took her with me to school. Before class began, I walked her into the animal hospital and told the on-call veterinarian that my dog was sick. He told me to leave her in the hospital and they would do a full work-up on her. I did, and went on to class. She was only six years old and had been the epitome of health, so I knew that it couldn’t be serious.
That evening after class I went back into the hospital and found that she had been assigned to Dr. Lees. a specialist in kidney disease (he had actually written a chapter in our text about it).
Two days later, Dr. Lees told me that Lucy was going to die. The best thing to do would be to put her to sleep so that she would no longer suffer. She had developed an auto-immune disease and her immune system had attacked her kidneys, destroying them.
Lucy was at one of the most prestigious veterinary hospitals in the country being treated by one of the best kidney specialists in the world and nothing could be done. I was in shock.
For the next twenty plus years, whenever I ran into a dead-end while treating a sick pet, I couldn’t help but feel those same feelings that I did with Lucy. There had to be more “out there” that could be done.
Then, it happened.
I was working on a dog that had been diagnosed with epilepsy. I had done everything I knew how but we could not find a way to control its seizures. The client asked me if I thought acupuncture might help. I gave her my standard response, “Maybe, I just don’t know enough about that.” I told her that it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.
When I next saw the dog, I asked her how her dog had been doing, she explained that the acupuncture treatments had completely healed her dog.
I was amazed.
If that wasn’t enough, my associate had prescribed several medications to control the persistent daily vomiting the dog had been experiencing. The acupuncturist cured this too-without any pills.
That was enough. I knew at that moment that I had a duty to my patients to find new ways that could help them.
I had been a very successful veterinarian with generally good results. But, for the sake of my patients I had to change. Eventually I couldn’t ignore the fact that there was a whole world of other options out there that could dramatically transform the lives of my patients.
Would Lucy have been saved had Dr. Lees known about acupuncture? Sadly, no one would ever know. But I can tell you one thing for sure, thousands of Lucy’s have walked into my practice and were finally healed because of my holistic approach.
One of my biggest issues now is trying to teach people how to implement a holistic approach to caring for their pet before things go wrong and they have to see me.
What is the lesson in all this? Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know.