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Integrative Veterinary Medicine

At Mount Vernon Animal Hospital, the road to embracing Integrative Veterinary Medicine has been an evolution. With over 50 years of practice of Veterinary Medicine between them, Dr. Owel and Dr. Miller have recognized some basic truths: Western Medicine is very good at some things, but not so great with others. There is a place for surgery, antibiotics and the like, but there is also a place for Complementary and Alternative treatments, especially when Western Medicine has nothing left to offer, or the pet fails to respond. Chronic illnesses are where we often see a failure of Western medicines or secondary problems from long term drug administration.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine are terms used to describe practices and products not presently considered to be conventional (Western/Allopathic) Medicine. Some are derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine, some from other schools of thought. 

Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, and alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. What these modalities have in common is that they all strive to help restore your pet to balance, thus health. They seek to stimulate the body's own energy, Qi, (pronounced "chee") to facilitate healing. The goal is a return to health, not simply the eradication of a particular disease. Complementary and Alternative Medical techniques are usually gentler, with fewer side effects than conventional medicines. They can be slower, but often result in a more complete recovery.

Dr. Owel completed her training in Veterinary Herbology through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS). This also entailed learning Traditional Chinese Medicine as it applies to animals. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the oldest continuous systems of medicine in history, with recorded instances dating as far back as 2000 BC. Chinese Medicine is quite complex and can be difficult for some people to comprehend. This is because TCM is based, at least in part, on the belief that we live in a universe in which everything is interconnected. What happens to one part of the body affects every other part of the body. The mind and body are not viewed separately, but as part of an energetic system. Similarly, organs and organ systems are viewed as interconnected structures that work together to keep the body functioning.

There are Chinese Herbal Formulas for nearly every condition seen in veterinary (and human) medicine, many with fewer side effects than Western drugs and working in harmony with the body. We have begun prescribing Chinese and Western herbs for a variety of problems, such as chronic ear and skin infections, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), arthritis, intervertebral disc disease and other problems. Herbs are available in a variety of forms to make administration easier and are usually given for weeks to months for these chronic illnesses. Dr. Owel is happy to offer alternative therapies for your pet's condition.

Homeopathy is based on the principle of "like cures like". By taking a substance that can cause symptoms similar to a particular illness, then diluting it down hundreds or thousands of times, until none of the actual disease-causing substance is present, then administering the diluted product that has the "energetic memory" of the substance to stimulate the body to cure itself. Initially developed by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, over 200 years ago, it has been shown in numerous studies to be completely free of side effects and many positive responses occur. One of the concerns we have as veterinarians is the potential for side effects with some of the medications we prescribe. Homeopathic medications completely avoid this and we have seen dramatic results. Homotoxicogy, a field related to homeopathy, uses homeopathic medication to detoxify the body. These can be very helpful in treating many conditions and may also be used as an addition to Western (Allopathic) medicines.

Bach Flower Essences are a subset of Homeopathy developed by British physician, Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930's. These homeopathic remedies are especially for behavioral or emotional disorders, such as stress, anxiety, depression and sleep abnormalities. They utilize dilutions of flowers which leave their energetic memory in the remedy. We offer Bach Flower remedies custom mixed for such things as moving stress, intercat aggression, depression following an illness, loss of a companion,and many other situations.

Crystal healing and Reiki are forms of energy healing. These involve the focusing of healing energy through a crystal (just like early radios used crystals to focus sound energy) or through a trained practitioner to the patient. Dr. Owel is a second degree Reiki practitioner and has been performing Reiki on animals for many years. Reiki was developed in Japan by Mikao Usui in the early 20th century and practitioners believe there is an unlimited amount of healing energy in the universe and it can be attracted and focused by their intention. Reiki can by used to help treat virtually any illness or disorder.

Acupuncture is among the oldest healing practices in the world. It is a family of procedures that originated in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body by a variety of techniques, including the insertion of thin metal needles though the skin. It is intended to remove blockages in the flow of Qi (Life Force Energy) and restore and maintain health. It aims to restore and maintain health through the stimulation of specific points on the body. It is based on the concept that disease results from disruption in the flow of Qi and imbalance in the forces of yin and yang.

Acupunture for animals has many uses, most commonly for chronic illnesses. Musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis (degenerative joint disease), muscle pain or soreness, back or neck pain, disc disease; respiratory disorders such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and chronic cough; neurological problems such as seizures, paralysis, weakness; digestive disorders such as chronic vomiting, constipation or vomiting; endocrine (hormonal) diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism - all these and many more respond positively to acupuncture. Acupuncture is usually administered weekly for several sessions, then a schedule is tailored to your pet's condition and response. 

Dr. Miller completed her Acupuncture training at the Chi Institute.

Dietary consultations are available to determine how diet can help manage your pets health conditions. Many illnesses are related to diet and changing the type or form of food given can be an integral part of managing many problems, especially allergies and gastrointestinal disorders. Generally, we recommend feeding a high quality diet which does not include wheat, soy or corn. These are poor quality protein sources used in inferior foods and are common allergens. We recommend cats be fed primarily (if not exclusively) wet food. Cats are obligate carnivores and dry foods usually contain excessive carbohydrates and predispose them to weight gain and diabetes mellitus. Seizures can also be related to diet in some cases and we will help you choose the best diet to help with this serious problem.

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