NEWS

Changing behaviour

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

I am sure that I am not the only person over fifty to feel that it is getting harder to keep up with new trends, technology and a rapidly changing world. It’s no longer information overload, I seemed to have survived or be surviving that. Now it’s outsourcing everything including our autonomy, personal responsibility and any skill we may have once possessed, to an app. Moreover it seems that social media plays a more important role in our lives than visiting our neighbours for a cuppa.

But is this entirely as alarming or as worrying as it first appears?

I observe that changing peoples’ behaviour is more difficult than changing their minds, it takes longer. Yet there are some pretty amazing positive changes in behaviour occurring in the Western world at present driven by social media.

What if your reluctance to change your behaviour really was having a detrimental impact on others or the planet?

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This post will highlight the rapid changes that are happening in the world in the form of attitudes to animal consumption and much to my amazement, the role that modern information technology can play in changing our behaviour.

The most important changes are definitely not easy. This was highlighted to me recently in a film I was invited to see that presented the harsh facts surrounding the global environmental devastation wrought by animal agriculture.

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Perhaps the new ‘world leaders’ really are the social media gurus evidenced by the massive rise in veganism this year alone in response to a ‘no holds barred’ attitude to reporting world affairs by a rogue independent group of journos bringing a non commercial perspective to food advertising.

Very effective game, or behaviour, changing in my opinion.

I didn’t think things would or could change much overnight but I have to say that the events of the past twelve months, summarized in that you tube, is a very positive example of how quickly things can change in a modern world with the right driver.enviropig

Everybody seeing these films would come to understand that producing animals for food in the modern world with burgeoning overpopulation is wholly unsustainable.

 

I am still inclined to believe that it will not immediately stop the behaviour of meat or dairy consumption in most people but we live in interesting times.

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Nobody wants to hear or believe that we must stop consuming animal products, except perhaps vegans or animal rights activists, but the evidence is mounting that our attempts over the past few decades to keep up the demand for meat, fish, poultry and dairy products in a global population explosion has caused us to kill our planet.

 

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Up until now the pawltry advice in the ‘West’ has been to use less water, drive cars less and buy local produce. These are all excellent initiatives but there is always a bigger picture that some of us like to know about and in the case of global warming, weather and climate changes and environmental degradation this is reducing an enterprise that many of us have taken for granted and has, up until now, sustained our very livelihoods; animal production or farming by any other name.

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Animal production and aquaculture appears certain to not provide adequate food to feed the people we have on Earth. The idea that our behaviour needs to change now must be the overriding motivation.

 

We desperately need to reduce population, reduce consumption, reduce expectations, or perish.

 

There is enough food for everyone but not enough of the foods that many of us take for granted. Much of the food crops being produced go to feed animals for slaughter and not to the starving humanity. This could be considered criminal if we adopted a global conscience but I am equally certain that the problems of the world cannot be simply solved overnight.

We needed to change our behaviour when slavery was abolished, when women entered the free market workplace and became employers and executives and when smoking was banned from most public places to name some situations we ought to be able to recognize. We are changing the culture of bullying behaviour in schools and workplaces and we are seeing the necessity of accepting diverse personal lifestyle choices in mainstream society. One of these choices will definitely need to be to drastically reduce the reliance on animal products in our diets.

As a gourmand myself, I find this confronting and in an environment where it is impossible already to find a nourishing vegetarian option in more than one food establishment within a fifty kilometer radius (and I live in a large city!) is a serious indictment on the speed that this change may occur, or worse, possibly not.

Unlike all the changes that have gone before, this change has a definitive expiry date. According to some, we have already gone past it.

The worlds’ food supplies will run out unless we stop feeding a vast amount of them to animals in order to feed the appetite of the minority. This happens in feedlots in developed countries and grazing lands where food crops could be grown instead. Granted there are communities across the globe that subsist on non-arable lands in nomadic lifestyles that depend upon animals to wholly sustain them but these are distinct and unique minorities in remote areas on the globe.images

 

 

 

 

Meateaters are actually the worlds’ most destructive minority group.

If we really cared about our role as a human being and not just as an Australian, then we might find the incentive to change our meat eating behaviour and that of the food establishments that feed us.

Consumer demand is the driving force in a free economy. We have seen this already with the rise in availability of gluten free foods or nonGMO produce. We are the consumers and as difficult and convoluted as we choose to make the problem, I have family and friends who farm animals and I am a veterinarian, we all have to face the necessity of change. images-2

 

 

 

 

Of course there be fallout from this proposed mega behaviour change that will require major initiative and skill to manage well. The existing farmed animals will need destocking or rehoming and the farmers will need to be supported to develop new livlihoods and implement plant based or alternative enterprises. We will also be faced with the dilemma of how to best feed our pet cats and dogs without species appropriate food readily available. The majority of our western world’s household pets already eat artificial foods so they may adapt better than us in the new meat free world. Plant based foods will be the only option in an ideal future. Better for us but worse for dogs and cats unfortunately. For better or worse, pet ownership at least is already declining in Australia.

The premise that animal agriculture is unsustainable warrants immediate consideration and action because time is running out for this change in our behaviour as we exceed population six billion, all expecting to reach age ninety.

The alternative and ultimate choice, keep eating animals and animal products whilst many human beings in the world die along with them or accept that a change of behaviour is necessary as soon as possible.

Our choices and our behaviour determine the shape of our society.

 

 

 

Change your inner attitude first!
Your outer environment
Will automatically change.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 1, Agni Press, 1998

Determination
Can change your mind.
Determination
Can change your heart.
Determination
Can change your life
Altogether.

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 72, Agni Press, 1984

If you do not change your life
Willingly,
God will change your life
Forcefully.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 43, Agni Press, 2005

 

History Repeats

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

Seven reasons for why obtaining a history from a previous or referring veterinarian is very important to a holistic and integrative practitioner.

 

1/ Owners will sometimes forget the chronology of disease symptoms or even that some incidents occurred at all.

Given that cure proceeds from most recent to earliest symptom, according to Hering, it can be very helpful to know what the earliest symptoms entailed. This can help plot accurate assessments and prescriptions during homeopathic management towards disease cure. Conversely, a totally new symptom can be more readily identified if an accurate history is available.

 

2/ The timing of certain symptoms arising can help identify aetiology.

A strong treatment option can involve a clear aetiology or ‘never well since’ and owners may not recall these things as clearly as a documented vet history. Why was the animal vaccinated then? because we were going away and leaving them in kennels for 3 weeks. This may have been overlooked by the owner as significant since it is considered routine to them.

 

3/ Drug pictures and artificial disease can be better identified.

An examination of the vet history can help to ascribe certain symptoms as drug pictures and not true disease symptoms in a case of chronic disease. It may be difficult to see the animal for the disease in chronic cases and a good vet history can help unravel some or much of the picture confusion as iatrogenic.

 

4/ Specific drugs may be implicated and may require antidoting or treating with isopathy/tautopathy.

Owners will not always know what drugs were used. For example there have been cases where ketamine anaesthesia has caused long term mental symptoms in cats.

We can also identify certain suspicious events and links yet to be investigated properly such as cancer and cartrophen, Cocker rage and ivermectin, amongst numerous other allopathic suppressions and stimuli.

Vaccination dates are always important.

5/ Client /Veterinarian relationship

I have observed quite often that a client/owner will place a lot of importance on the vet history and will often arrive with a whole file of information about their beloved pet. It is courtesy to acknowledge this effort and also to accept an offer to keep a copy of these records as it confirms a degree of concern for their pet that can enhance trust and respect.

 

6/ Professional ethics

In a global climate of recurrent hostility towards homeopathy it is very important to be recognised first and foremost as a professional veterinary colleague and practitioner. Good communication between treating veterinarians assists optimum outcomes for the patient and also enhances awareness of the effectiveness and benefits of a holistic and integrative approach to disease management.

 

7/ Minimisation of risk

Similarly in a climate of rising litigation against health professionals it is wise and advisory to have excellent and accurate records. If necessary these can be used to demonstrate the professionalism we bring to our cases where this may otherwise be difficult to ascertain. As homeopaths we often do not use conventional medicines routinely for example. A conventional history will usually contain a record of disease diagnosis and results of pathology or imaging that can strongly support our practice. It is advisable to recommend that these tests be undertaken in cases where they have not been conducted and to record our recommendations.

 

 

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We do not need
Any other teacher
Than history,
And this teacher
Teaches us for free.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 22, Agni Press, 2001

Food for thought

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

Alleged conflict of interest and the regrettable perception of insult aside, there are more important issues arising from the recent 7.30 report on veterinarians and the petfood industry that directly relate to our profession.

What do we, as veterinarians, really know and advise about pet nutrition?

It is possible that the message from this incident is that we need to take charge of the information that underpins all health and not outsource this imperative to food manufacturers with vested interests especially, as has been demonstrated by this news report, since we get caught up in the fallout and suffer anguish.

When did we begin to implicitly trust pet food manufacturers to know more about pet nutrition than we do?

The public ought to be able to rely on us to have accurate information on matters related to pet nutrition and we can actually have greater profit margins by selling services rather than products with the bonus of better value for money to clients. A range of pet foods being offered for sale is not the real issue from the public’s perspective, it is usually the fact that we are selling products at all. This does not mean we should not sell petfoods, it just reminds us that people and the pets, may in fact, require more from us than that.

If we are selling these commercial foods because we know them to be safer, better and more convenient then that is what people need to hear from us and they also need to know why we think this to be true.

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Owners may need to feel that they are doing more for their pets’ health and wellbeing by creating meals for the animal by themselves without our criticism. Some of my clients know more about canine nutrition than I still do after years of further study.

Most of my practice involves helping pet owners develop and feed the best possible diets for their pets with or without the use of commercially prepared foods.

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This is a collection of observations, statements and questions for which evidence and answers can be found if we know where to look.

They are questions and comments that do arise and may arise much more frequently in small animal practice in this world of ‘information’ overload.

Each phrase is a starting point for conversations we need to be having with each other about how to best feed our pets.

As veterinarians we most definitely stand to profit by finding the best solution to the number ONE essential foundation element of animal health; NUTRITION.

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  • all veterinarians care about animals and their welfare
  • all veterinarians are dedicated and intelligent health professionals
  • who coined the phrase “prescription diets” and what does it mean?
  • Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine”
  • Prevention is better(and more fun) than cure
  • There is evidence that fresh, real, species appropriate food can treat and prevent many diseases.
  • Dogs and cats have teeth for cutting and tearing their food
  • What are vets actually taught about dog and cat nutrition and by whom?
  • Would anyone choose to eat dry, heat extruded, unidentifiable food pellets for every meal of their lives over fresh whole species appropriate foods if they had a choice?
  • The microbiome relies on real (fresh organic and raw) foods to keep functioning optimally
  • Optimum and vibrant health relies on a healthy gut microbiome
  • There is a gut-brain axis
  • Nutrigenomics is an exciting and important field of discovery that warrants our immediate attention and investigation
  • The mainstay of all health practice in all species hinges on optimum nutrition
  • What are real foods as distinct from convenience foods or ‘dead’ foods?
  • Why have commercial pet foods changed formulae over recent years to include such things as green lipped mussel, vegetables and omega 3 amongst other nutrients?(albeit in suboptimal, inappropriate and misleading quantities)
  • Dogs and cats do not actually have a requirement for carbohydrates in their diets
  • Dogs and cats optimally use raw fat for energy
  • Chewing grass is normal and essential for dogs and cats if they are not getting fresh raw greens in their diets
  • Heated or cooked fats become toxic
  • Commercial petfoods are ultraheated and irradiated during manufacture or import
  • Why is pancreatitis so commonly diagnosed in dogs?
  • Cooked fat potentiates and probably causes pancreatitis
  • Grains are proinflammatory foods, how do they behave in dogs and cats?
  • Dogs will survive (but not thrive) being fed most things
  • Chewing large and inappropriate (cooked or weight bearing) bones can break teeth
  • Chewing appropriate raw meaty bones is probably the last remnant of ‘normal’ behaviour acceptable to carnivores in a modern world
  • Crunching raw meaty bones releases endorphins and ‘feel good brain chemicals’ in dogs and cats that contribute to vibrant health
  • Why are humans the only species that cook foods?
  • Most cases of documented food poisoning have come from commercial dog foods and poor storage and not from feeding raw diets to pets.
  • Commercial pet foods are very convenient
  • The effort required to field owners queries about diet and to have a wider base of knowledge of nutrition can be hugely profitable to veterinarians
  • Opinions and facts are different things that may occasionally coincide

Having observed that many of my holistically minded and educated veterinary colleagues have been long sufferers of tireless slander from sceptics and industry experts, I simply appeal to readers to make up their own minds about something as basic as what we feed our pets, especially when the results of simple common sense practices clearly speak for themselves.

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Do not think
Your opinion
Is the only opinion.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 11, Agni Press, 1999

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Do not remain glued
To your own opinion.
Others may have opinions
That can easily challenge
And defeat yours.

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 175, Agni Press, 1992

 

Redefining Success

Monday, October 5th, 2015

At a recent member forum we struggled to think of occasions where the AVA (Australian Veterinary Association) had been successful on an issue where there has been internal controversy.

Success often arises from compromise combined with choosing your battles wisely. Failure to do one or both of these things invariably results in conflict that may remain unresolved until we find a better way to communicate or understand each other.

Communication means having something in common which happens in communities and conversation can be a good way to start the ball rolling.

imagesThe AVA is our veterinary community.

Conversation begins with a shared experience or story says ideas man Mark Strom, the facilitator at the PanPacific Animal Welfare Forum at the AVA National Conference in May this year.

It will only continue through respectful listening and response and there will not always be agreement or accord. There will also be different views on what constitutes a good conversation depending on our individual personalities and style of relating.

Those who thrive on robust, vigorous debate and disagreement, for example, may choose to engage in politics and use their skills to flex their mental acumen, brow beat opponents or hammer opinions. I understand those who have these talents actually enjoy this way of relating to each other.  On the other hand, more sensitive individuals may prefer conciliatory approaches to disagreements and find rigorous heated debates traumatizing or unrewarding. These are two extremes and I suggest we all fit or fluctuate somewhere along this ego spectrum.

Similarly, as Veterinarians, albeit with a common profession and common concern for the welfare of animals, we have a spectrum of differences, which is what helps to make our organization strong.BN13150_1

This strength is potentially eroded when the really big ‘ambitious’ projects are up for discussion because we forget or cannot access our commonality, or find there may actually be no meeting point,  no willingness to compromise or simply no agreement to disagree. Occasionally it may be that we really seem to be talking completely different languages from each other, which makes communication very difficult if there are limits to comprehension. It is also true that issues will assume degrees of importance to different people and final outcomes of decisions on topics of universal relevance can often be disappointing.

I have learned that life is largely made up of compromises.Unknown-1

We have ideals and we make compromises.

Veterinarians do not compromise on animal welfare but our definition of what comprises animal welfare in the modern world  often requires exploring, discussing and contemplating from a wider global and cross cultural perspective.

Perhaps there cannot really be an ideal or attainable definition of a perfect scenario in any animal welfare issue we undertake but I suggest that we all know what comprises an unacceptable treatment of animals. This could be a starting point for building optimum welfare practices since it is a point of common agreement in Australian culture. In countries and cultures where safety and human rights are violated it is sadly beyond our control to expect our views to be upheld and now that we live in a global economy, we probably need to redefine the true scope of our influence or authority.

Already we can see why the live animal trade is fraught with peril.262849-110716-cattle

Many great minds and experts have been contemplating this national issue for a long time. Given that we cannot expect to be able to regulate the actions of all parties involved in live export we can do our best to uphold Australian standards of animal welfare, in my own opinion, simply by stopping live animal exports.

Recent events have proved that this is not actually ‘simple’ in any regard apart from  philosophical. There will need to be infrastructural support to help both the animals and the economy until this new culture of no live export is established. A whole other conversation may then ensue in which veterinarians will need to be content to have a smaller part as economists, engineers, corporations and politicians implement this ideal. But we will have done our part and we can be satisfied.

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Veterinarians do not have to save the world they just have to advocate for animal welfare and we have an expanding evidence base from which to make informed decisions in this regard.

Animal Activism has grown in communities across the globe in response to the expanded awareness that we as humans are developing for the spiritual nature of all living things. From a spiritual perspective animals do have rights but as pawns in human life they forfeit many of these and their lives to our own needs or desires, food, work, sport, companionship, clothing and the like. From a spiritual perspective animals also have a role in the service to mankind that is often not acknowledged or appreciated in activism. Similarly, not all advocates for animal rights are activists, so once again the terminology trips us up in our efforts to communicate adequately. We have another ‘spectrum’ to contend with from fundamentalism and activism to advocacy, depending once again on our personal attributes and way of being.

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Animals communicate with us through heart power and not mind power and when we harness this capacity in ourselves we may find that it is a most rewarding and effective means to avoid conflict. I felt that this was part of the message that Mark Strom was trying to impart in the PanPacific forum. He was trying to get us to recognize that we can operate from a higher intelligence or purpose. Wisdom is not an intellectual capacity. Wisdom, unlike truth, cannot be learned but is attained by aspiration and time. Once attained it helps our mind to make the right decisions and choices.

ChaleI became a vet because I wanted to serve animals, little realizing at the time that that would mean dealing largely with people. I never described myself as an animal lover but I certainly do love animals with an ever increasing awareness of what that really means. A large part of my life is now devoted to studying and practicing meditation and bringing this awareness openly into my veterinary practice so I can speak from experience about the spiritual aspects of animal welfare.

 

This may not solve the ambitious problems we encounter in the AVA but it helps me enormously to deal personally with issues in the AVA where there is internal conflict or controversy. The key for me has been to redefine success.

 

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Develop heart-power.
Why?
Because the power of the mind
Has now become obsolete.

Sri Chinmoy, Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 60, Agni Press, 1984

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The mind thinks it has
Tremendous wisdom.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 37, Agni Press, 2004

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I choose steady progress
Over speedy success.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 29, Agni Press, 2002

 

 

Preventing Suicide

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

 

The veterinary profession is concerned that veterinarians currently have the highest rate of suicide amongst professionals. It is a record that nobody wants to have.

It is a terrible statistic and talk must be aimed at preventing these situations from arising by identifying contributory factors and providing access to effective personal development tools. Suicide is a grisly subject which we often tend to avoid. Fortunately many of us have recently started publishing information that may prove helpful in identifying ways to reduce this alarming trend.

Suicide arises from an uncontrolled or uncontrollable mind and we are certainly people who think a lot and worry about things. Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) has been introduced to veterinary curriculum in Canada and this is a progressive initiative that should be encouraged here and elsewhere as a grassroots initiative for teaching vets how to calm their minds and control their emotions towards better mental health and happiness. Medical practitioners in Australia have been been using this program for some time so there will be a strong body of data developing to draw upon.

Dentists mostly stopped using mercury a while ago which, in my opinion, has largely contributed to lowering the suicide rate in their profession, so we need to consider what may be lacking or contributing to despair in our own profession.

images-2People generally like veterinarians, we like animals and we usually love our jobs. So far it appears that our workplace stresses play a significant role in destabilizing our mental health. Factors such as geographical and professional isolation, difficult cases or clients and long hours may contribute to making us feel overwhelmed or helpless. Our qualifications and training unfortunately can then readily provide the means to an end. There are bound to be personal issues or other health problems in those who take their own lives, so any effective solution will most certainly need to be holistic.

 

As a profession we really must open candid discussions as soon as possible focused on exploring ways to detect those most at risk, providing preventative measures like MBSR and meditation and finding ways to better support our colleagues.

 

Suicide must never be an option.

 

I personally know three men who have taken their own lives over the years. One was in my graduating class, one the year before and one the year before that.

Sadly they are but three of hundreds as we lose one vet every twelve weeks.

One of these guys introduced me to the Registrar of the Faculty and was instrumental in me getting accepted into vet school, one was a good friend at college and the other was a classmate. Two of these men were especially vivacious, outgoing and popular and had seemingly no difficulty in relating to others but they still became statistics that has left me feeling saddened that they did not find the help they needed at the time. I would not want to see this happen to anyone else, which is why I am trying now to offer my personal experience.

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There is one thing that can be said that can provide a solid foundation of protection if it is wholly embodied and totally believed. Plus we all have to hear it often and repeat it with conviction so that it becomes permanently ingrained in our culture.

 

Suicide is not ever an escape from anything.

 

Getting close to fully realising this takes time, guidance and practice combined with the opportunity to access reliable knowledge that can be very hard to find. I recommend starting immediately and early.

Like all parents, I worry about both of my young adult children. Apparently I have reason to be more concerned than others because statistically my son is in a high risk category. If not for my personal belief system and deep knowledge that has also been imparted to him in his formative years I would have more concern. Because I meditate and because he and I have great communication I feel grateful and as secure as possible that he knows that suicide is not an option and not ever an escape. He not only knows it, he firmly believes it so that when he is very low he seeks other diversions, incentives and assistance to overcome his treacherous mind and emotions.

 

I am not naive enough to believe that I can tell anybody about what goes on in their own heads or lives but there is a something I know that should be shared. That is that there is not ever really an escape, even in death and we must find the courage and strength to persist and persevere even in our darkest moments.

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In embracing a spiritual path I, like many others, have learned to access a deeper, calmer part of myself that I can draw upon during times of stress and difficulty. This provides a solid foundation and self affirmation that helps me weather the stormy days on the battlefield of life. This includes an increasing awareness that we exist for the purpose of fulfilling our soul’s potential. Our soul is birthless and deathless and we must continue to strive over and over again through multiple lifetimes to firstly become aware of this and then to embrace it as our only true purpose for existing.

 

Following this philosophy, which is also why I assist animals to a natural death and do not perform euthanasia, I am fully and totally aware that suicide is no escape. In fact, suicide sets you back much further than you can imagine after having worked so hard to attain your progress to that point. It is not only no escape but also a guarantee that next time around will be worse. This is the mantra that keeps people like my son and me forging ahead and bettering our lives. It totally prevents us considering that in this society of avoidance that life can be avoided. Sadly we now live in a culture of such avoidance and suppression that this is an increasingly difficult task without the help of meditation or yogic practice.

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People of faith may go so far as to say that we live in a Godless society. To some extent this is true as we have been moving away from organized religions and congregations for many years in western societies and churches are being turned into offices and bed and breakfasts. But religion and spirituality are not the same things. Religion provides a structured framework and community and spirituality is personal, individual and sacred. Some of us need both but all of us need a spiritual perspective sooner or later.

 

The lack of a spiritual perspective to life makes every little thing that bit harder to deal with.

 

I acknowledge that most Christian religions do not teach or validate reincarnation but my realization is that it exists as surely as evolution follows creation. We have become unnecessarily confused and disenchanted by refusing to listen to our deeper innate intelligence and it is taking a tragic toll.

This prevailing dearth of ignorance fuelled by overactive minds prevents us from feeling really good about ourselves most of the time until we rediscover our purpose. I suspect that my three friends did not know that their soul was in charge and I know that they certainly, sadly and tragically did not listen to it.

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Opening discussions or providing access to meditative practices could be a tool for saving some of these lives. The Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon has recognised this possibility and has been incorporating mindfulness into the veterinary curriculum for personal development of students as they prepare to enter the veterinary workforce. This teaches veterinary students and veterinarians, ways to better manage thoughts and emotions and quiet the mind. A quiet mind paves the way for a more peaceful life and helps us to better manage stressful situations.


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I do believe that it is a failure of our society to not acknowledge that we are spiritual beings having a human life and that however hard, lonely, depressing or desperate this life may seem at times, how we feel, think or behave is only a small part of who we truly are. In ending our life in suicide, true meditation teaches us that we are not escaping anything at all and that if we do take our own life that we will have relive it all over again from an even greater handicap.

Apart from the loss of my friends this is the main reason for my anger. I am angry that we don’t all know this and that it fails to keep us all safe from suicide. Understanding that anger is not a constructive emotion it gives way eventually to compassion. This is a better position from which we can then more effectively communicate and search for solutions.

I do not pretend to know what went wrong with my three colleagues and countless others who face what they perceived to be insurmountable despair.

Nor do I pretend to understand how this tragedy has affected those closest to them, but I do firmly believe that if we can tell people that suicide is not the answer and make them really believe it before they get to that point that some lives may be spared.

 

Each of us will have our own ideas and beliefs but I am fully convinced that if we can offer people the opportunity to study meditation and spirituality then they may come to understand and accept that suicide is not ever the answer to their overwhelming distress. Ultimately each of us is responsible for preserving our own life. We can understand ourselves better and love ourselves more if we meditate regularly.

 

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Even if you can’t believe or accept anything I’ve said here, if this approach saves only one person’s life, if it helps one person to find a way forward, the effort is worth all the criticism.

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God has His fixed Hour
For us to depart.
He does not provide us
With an emergency exit.

Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 33, Agni Press, 2003

Never Commit Suicide

Never commit suicide, never commit suicide.
No place in hell to hide, no place in hell to hide.

Sri Chinmoy, Enthusiasm, part 2

91 My Physical Death …

My physical death
Is not the end of my life —
I am an eternal journey.

Sri Chinmoy, My Christmas-New Year-Vacation Aspiration-Prayers, Part 52, Agni Press, 2007

 

What about Worms?

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

What is the common sense truth about intestinal parasites in dogs and cats in Australia?

Ask yourselves, where do my animals get worms from and what are the effects of using chemicals on my pets and the environment.

Do I need to worry about these things?

This posting arises from queries I field on a daily basis from pet owners wanting to know whether they need to use monthly worming preparations in their cats and dogs.

The short answer is no.

Most products on the market are not going to worry most pets but increasingly I receive reports of animals that get stomach upsets, vomiting and diarrhoea on a periodical basis that coincides with giving monthly tablets or spot on products. There have been reports recently about the onset of aggression in dogs after using certain topical flea products that I feel have some validity and ought to be investigated. Fortunately most of these problems are often shortlived and self limiting but we also need to consider what repeated unnecessary dosing does to them, the environment and to us. Plus, more to the point and in my opinion, they don’t really need it.

Being unable to answer all calls I will outline here what most people want to know and what many vets may have forgotten about endoparasites in cats and dogs.

The key to understanding these issues is knowledge of the lifecycles of the parasites in question and an assessment of individual risk. There are many excellent online references that describe these parasites in detail but they don’t necessarily help you to assess the actual risk to your particular pet.

 

Roundworm

These are the worms you will most commonly see in puppies and kittens. Roundworms are large worms that can cause serious disease and even death in susceptible, juvenile animals. Eggs ingested from these worms can also cause disease in humans if proper sanitary habits such as hand washing after handling young animals are not observed. In humans these parasites can encyst in organs like the eye and do not mature to adult intestinal worms. These problems occur in unsanitary households and with shared dog/human feeding bowls and practices.images-4

Roundworms are parasites that are dormant in the mother animals’ tissues and cross the placenta before birth of the puppies and via milk in newborn kittens.

The larvae mature after migrating through liver and lungs into large worms inside the intestines and these can kill small animals if the burden is heavy. Fortunately this rarely happens to an alarming extent unless the animals are undernourished, neglected or otherwise compromised by serious environmental parasite contamination. These animals will be coughing, ill thrifty, pot bellied, sorry looking kittens and puppies.

It is very important therefore to guard against roundworm infestation in young animals by using piperazine or another chemical of choice to treat dams and progeny post whelping/queening and fortnightly for a few weeks for optimum results.

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It is good practice to continue this monthly to six months of age or beyond. Animals that are older than six months develop resistance to roundworm and it is very rarely a problem in adult animals for two reasons; low exposure risk, unless in a breeding establishment and resistance to the parasite.

Tapeworm

The next most common parasite in Victoria in cats and dogs and the most common endoparasite in adult animals is tapeworm.There are two main types of tapeworm in dogs and one in cats.

The most serious is hydatid tapeworm in dogs. The incidence of this disease in Australia is now, fortunately, very low owing to a nationwide education and eradication program in the eighties. This disease also only occurs in dogs that are ingesting raw organs from infested sheep or rabbits that themselves have eaten eggs in the environment from dog faeces. It is a dog/sheep cycle and rabbits and humans and other species (wildlife) can also develop severe cystic disease from ingesting infected dog faeces. This is a disease that anyone living with sheep and feeding sheep offal or fresh wild rabbits to dogs may need to worry about and the rest of us do not. Freezing rabbits or sheep offal before feeding them to dogs will address this problem.

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The other tapeworm is more common but less problematic and infests cats and dogs that ingest fleas. Good flea control minimizes this risk. The flea tapeworm is not usually harmful and is easy to see in the faeces of dogs and cats

Hookworm

This parasite occurs in tropical areas of north Australia and is acquired by ingestion of larvae from the environment, skin penetration or via colostrum in suckling puppies. It also has an organ migratory phase and causes anaemia. It can be quite a dangerous disease left untreated in puppies and kittens.images-6

It does not occur in the colder southern areas of Australia but is quite problematic in northern dog communities. The larvae that emerge from infested puppy or kitten faeces can also penetrate human skin and cause skin disease in people. It is easily controlled along with roundworm by adhering to strict hygiene, like picking up after young animals that defecate in the environment. Like many other worms, resistance develops in older animals.

Whipworm

This parasite has a simple soil to animal lifecycle and occurs by ingesting encapsulated eggs in soil. It occurs Australia wide but uncommonly causes severe disease as it is easily identified as a problem. In areas of heavy soil contamination this can be a serious disease owing to it’s persistence and difficulty of eradication.

It can be indicated by the mucousy, bloody or yellow frothy diarrhoea it produces. A faecal examination will reveal whipworm if present.

You will definitely know if your animal has whipworm as colitis symptoms will recur and you may need to use regular prevention if the property is contaminated.

Heartworm

This is a parasite that has successfully established itself if cooler climates of Australia after having been largely a tropical disease.

It is transmitted via bite from a mosquito  that has bitten an infested dog. It can only be transmitted in this manner and only a couple of mosquito species of the many hundreds are capable of transmission.

This reduces the risk of infestation quite considerably, coupled with the fact that it is a very slow disease to develop with many opportunities for the lifecycle to be arrested in robustly healthy dogs or diagnosed early and treated with the range of products now available.

You can check what the prevalence of heartworm is in your area of Australia by visiting disease watchdog

The incidence of heartworm is almost non existent in most regions these days largely because many animals have been taking preventatives for over twenty years and the reservoir of infestation has largely disappeared. Many areas of Australia have never even had a case of heartworm diagnosed.

Lungworm

This worm is a potential problem for cats that hunt and eat birds, rodents and snails that may carry this parasite if they themselves have picked up eggs from cat faeces. Coughing cats should be examined for possible lungworm infestation and moxidectin can treat this disease. It is not common and can be treated or prevented in susceptible cats. Your veterinarian can help determine if this is necessary.

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Parasitology was well taught to veterinary undergraduates at Melbourne University in my day and whilst the emphasis was on production animals there was thorough information given about all parasites affecting all domestic species in Australia.

I wonder what Drs Rickard and Arundel, amongst others, are thinking nowadays about the apparent lack of regard in general veterinary practice for the fact that dogs and cats should not ever need ongoing monthly worming treatments with ivermectins, selamectins, moxidectins and their various derivatives. There is an abundance of convenience products available these days that arose originally from the market for monthly heartworm preventatives twenty years ago.

The best thing about these new products is that they can act as treatments as well as preventatives and using them once or twice a year can be a good and practical alternative to using them every month.

We used to be quite concerned about anthelmintic resistance and how we could best preserve efficacy of intestinal worming treatments in food animals by rotating the chemicals to reduce the emergence of resistant strains. Whilst it is accepted that production animals will always have a low level of parasitism it is kept to a healthy minimum by these and other sensible, management practices. In contrast, our domestic pets, cats and dogs and to a lesser extent birds and exotics have always been considered to be most healthy with a zero parasite burden. Parasites occupy a niche in the natural world and arguably cannot be totally eliminated. A healthy balance is what is needed.

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In fact, most cats and dogs generally do have a near zero parasite burden depending on where they live and how they are fed and yet we are still encouraged to religiously administer the once a month chemical cocktails that we would never consider taking ourselves.

Convenience rules our world.

After nearly thirty years of feeding these monthly to our dogs, the heartworm and other parasite incidence has understandably declined but who really knows what the environmental impact on soil ecology, our households, our pets or other organisms may ultimately be.

It is no secret that animals that are fed raw meaty bones and evolutionary diets are more likely to have robust immune systems especially if these animals are not vaccinated every year nor subjected to repeated chemical products.

This innate repulsion of parasites is aided by the addition of things like garlic, tumeric, ginger and leafy greens to the diet. Pomegranate is also a vermifuge, as is pumpkin, amongst other foods.images-8

It must also be emphasized that veterinarians have always being trying to offer the best advice for the general population but the types of commercial products being offered to us now are more complicated and generic than before. There are no single animals that are prone to all of these parasites. A frustrating thing about being a veterinarian these days is that the single ingredient compounds that target specific parasites are almost impossible to find in favour of the ubiquitous, broad spectrum. This makes it more difficult to appropriately target single cases of risk and why many of us are choosing to use naturopathic medicines and sensible practices that are individualized.

 

Nevertheless, all veterinarians have had the training to understand the lifecycles and risk factors of animal parasites and your own individual circumstances. The best thing to do is to ask them whether they think that you need to give these monthly products to your animals every month and why.

 

Otitis……’ere what did you say?

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Dogs and cats have extremely sensitive ears both to noise and physical stimuli owing to the fact that their pinnae are so much larger by ratio to the human. This, combined with the fact that hearing in these animals is a primary sense next to that of smell, highlights the importance of maintaining optimal aural health in our companions.

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Hearing is a sense that has been valued and preserved in dogs since our co-evolution over thousands of years. Over recent years however, this attribute has been less highly regarded in dogs and generally underutilized. In contrast to days of old when dogs were rewarded for alerting humans to impending danger, they are now more often chastised for being noisy and persistent in their alarm attempts. Proper training and a sense of reward can assist dogs to adapt to the fact that we may need this service less than we used to long ago but it is still genetically encoded in most dogs.

 

Since dogs have been living in human families throughout our history and have been by our side during the rapid societal changes that we have all endured, the surviving breeds have adapted to modern life. Like children in verbally abusive environments they have also learned to not listen. This is directly against their genetic priming. Like children who develop otitis media as a response to the stress of not wanting to listen, it is possible that the canine ‘children’ adopt similar defence mechanisms.images-2

Using the human parallel again, it is well acknowledged that children suffer eustachan tube underdevelopment and catarrhal otitis media, necessitating the trend to gromit surgery in chidren of recent years….the ‘tonsilectomy’ of the 90’s. Looking at this holistically, it is also possible that brachycephalic dog breeds that are being selected for larger heads and shorter necks and snouts could suffer the same physiological pressure on their ear canals as do newborn humans. I have fewer behavioural problem barking cases in my practice relating to an underutilized guarding instinct in brachycephalics, for example, that I do in normocephalic working dog breeds. Brachy dogs may have adapted already to largely ‘switching off’ that canine acuteness of hearing.

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Apart from all of this is the dearth in recent times of otitis externa cases in dogs and much less in cats. Although this is a disease of the ear canal and pinna it is primarily a skin disease. Approaching this holistically, the skin is an outlet for all disease in the body. The changes that occur in the skin and coat of cats and dogs reflect the underlying health status of the animal. Irrespective of where the primary disease symptoms occur they are expressed in the skin unless they are suppressed or treated appropriately. This is a primary reason why holistic vets do not recommend suppressing the expression of disease through the skin but rather seek to support the animal to enhance its ability to cure itself through enhancing immune mechanisms amongst other things. All symptoms are an attempt to cure and when we suppress these, cure becomes much more difficult to attain.

Recently I have also noticed that dogs or cats with dental disease and underlying infection in the ear/nose/throat, will have persistent itchy ears and this is not surprising. It is likely that inflammation in the head from any cause will create a cascade or flow on effect to other organs in the vicinity so I advise that animals with persistent ear problems have their teeth thoroughly examined by a veterinary dentist especially if there is gingivitis or tartar buildup.

Understanding the reason for disease symptoms helps to address an appropriate treatment plan and unfortunately there have been some tendencies such as the ones to which I have already alluded, that predispose certain breeds to particular problems. Holistic vets have always been able to see deeper reasons for disease but until recently have had difficulty proving or demonstrating this past their own successful practice experiences. I am very excited about the latest trend towards the study and ensuing research in epigenetics in animals and the role that nutrition and environment play in activating genes in certain individuals. I am compiling a list of diseases that I see in practice and the epigenetic triggers I believe could be investigated in the future. In the meantime I am content to continue to further pursue and broaden my knowledge through private practice experience.

 

What is normal?

One of the difficulties in helping animals to cure is the perception of normality.

Wax is normal. Dirt in the wax is normal. Normal, healthy ears are largely self maintaining, do not require routine cleaning and only need washing when they are struggling to cope with an overload of discharge or debris as part of a treatment plan. Checking them routinely is a good practice but removing the wax on a regular basis predisposes to further problems.

Like humans, a normal baby animal smells sweet and beautiful even if you don’t especially like them or the smell. It is an inoffensive smell that changes with maturity and the cascade of hormonal and dietary and behavioural changes that inevitably occur throughout their lives.

They do not need bathing to attain or maintain this smell unless they are unwell and this can be the first sign they may exhibit of being so. People who don’t like how they smell normally may perhaps seriously question whether they should live with a dog. Brushing and grooming assists a natural balance of oils and stimulation to the skin to continue to preserve good health. Overbathing removes or alters this innate balance of skin pH, commensal (good protective) bacteria and oils rendering the skin susceptible to attack from irritants and allergens. In contrast to this, a person who is aware that a change of smell or excessive shedding of hair may indicate a problem (not necessarily a bath!) will have a better chance of addressing an imbalance before it becomes an entrenched or intractable disease pattern.

An animal’s diet also needs to be carefully and thoroughly reconsidered, especially if symptoms of skin disease arise as an early warning that the animal is under duress.

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To summarise this article;

 

Otitis externa is a skin disease

Suppressing symptoms will not cure the disease

Optimal treatment plans assist the body to heal itself with supportive care

Attempt to understand what is normal

Feeding an appropriate diet will minimize inflammation

Holistic (Integrative) Veterinary Medicine optimises treatment options.

 

 

A little EBM on the side.

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

I have been finding it more difficult lately to continue to practice in an environment that creates conflict and confusion to the wonderful people who seek my advice as clients to my vet practice. Consultations can become counseling sessions due to the shift in understanding that occurs and the challenges that can arise in an already emotional situation with sick animals.

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The life of a holistic vet has always been difficult because we have needed to have the courage and resilience to face criticism from many corners for the perception that we are ‘troublemakers’. What we are, in fact, is a group of professional veterinarians looking for the best way we can to understand and treat disease in animals. If our discoveries and successes lead us to better understand concepts that are considered contrary to conventional thinking then we may find ourselves being somewhat tortured by difficulties of communication and comprehension.

We were all given the same opportunity to learn veterinary medicine and many of us branched into specializations. Holistic medicine is a specialization and the discoveries that we make are invaluable contributions to the future of medicine. Unfortunately we are not regarded as specialists in our field by our colleagues who still do not think to ask our advice about CAVM.  Animal owners themselves are seeking us out with increasing frequency as they search for answers to perplexing disease situations or are frustrated by escalating and chronic conditions afflicting their pets.

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Speaking personally, my veterinary training provided me with an invaluable opportunity and environment in which to learn to learn. Vet school provides a comprehensive foundation in animal anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and medicine. There were opportunities to learn and practice surgery and all of this was built upon a solid foundation of evidence based scientific practices such as physics and chemistry.

‘Evidence based medicine’ (EBM) itself, however, is a misleading term that was adopted by sceptics to discredit medicine, especially complementary and alternative medicine.

In actual fact evidence based medicine is not even taught at all to clinicians in the strictest sense because it is a term that was coined by epidemiologists and academics to distinguish their laboratory practices from clinical practices.

By it’s very definition and from it’s inception EBM is divisive and misleading.image0044

That does not mean that our veterinary training has no evidence base. Evidence is gleaned from years of experience and knowledge, training and research and all veterinarians practice medicine that has an evidence base. You may begin to see how this term has been misused, appropriated and has become somewhat meaningless despite the emphasis placed upon it by those striving to drive conflict using the firm assertion that there is a difference. There is not.

With the rise in interest in holistic complementary and natural medicine over recent times there has been too much conflict in and around this issue that has not served any of us well.images-11

This vet story however was not intended to be a discourse on EBM. I originally intended to introduce some of the reasons for why we are vilified for holistic practice apart from the confusion over terminology.

I will speak personally once again because I cannot assume that my colleagues agree with my assertions. I have decided to be blunt and forthright in these assertions because the messages are very important and simple.

The vast majority, if not all, diagnoses involving terms like “immune mediated”or idiopathic are the result of epigenetic fallout from years of vaccinations, bad diets and suppressive treatments.

Suppressive treatments include all products with the term ‘anti’. Anti means against. Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, antacids, antiemetics all have a place in disease management but never in cure. We have now moved beyond the anti to the full blown immunosuppressive, past cortisone to deeper levels of suppression. Must we be against everything?

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From these short statements alone it is not difficult to see why I may be considered a ‘troublemaker’ but I am solely concerned with discovering the truth and providing the best treatments for animals. There are many other postings on this site pertaining to best practice such as the feeding of evolutionary diets since ‘we are all what we eat’. Nutrition has a fundamental role in optimal health and in preventing epigenetic triggers to disease.

Real and healthy food does not ever come in packets or tins.

I am certain that in the next few years there will be an increase in interest and research into epigenetics that will shed some light on and bring solutions for these problems but in the meantime holistic vets have real answers and treatments available for chronically ill animals.

As we progress towards unraveling the mysteries of the genome, after the discovery of the genetic code over sixty years ago, we perhaps ought to consider that there have always been those amongst us who have put their innate, genomic knowledge and wisdom to best use.

 

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The outer courage sees the right way.

The inner courage does the right thing.

 Sri Chinmoy

 

 

CAVM

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

 

Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine (CAVM) is a term used to denote veterinary medicine and techniques that are currently not taught in veterinary schools in Australia. CAVM is integrated into regular veterinary practice by Integrative Veterinarians or used as a stand alone discipline by veterinarians trained in acupuncture, chiropractic and homeopathy amongst others.

 

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I have begun writing posts about the importance of veterinary involvement in animal natural medicine because Veterinarians are the only animal health professionals who are trained adequately to diagnose and treat animals with disease. CAVM affords a wider base from which to draw these treatments under professional veterinary supervision and there is an increasing number of veterinarians taking an interest in studying these alternative medicines.Webcow

The majority of people seeking CAVM for their animals often have some experience or knowledge of these medicines themselves but it is also becoming a popular option for others who are running out of choices for the treatment of chronic animal disease.

Many new products and supplements have risen to popularity in recent times from the useof CAVM. Herbs have been a common adjunct to large animal feeds for many years as a result of understanding the benefits of such things as rosehip and milk thistle for health restoration. Small animals are similarly obtaining benefit from the addition of glucosamine, chondroitin or green lipped mussel products to commercial pet foods in recent times for joint disease. Fatty acids and essential oils like fish and flaxseed or sunflower have gained increasing popularity for skin disease management for example.

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Over time the benefits or side effects of these nutrients also becomes better known and an evidence base is accumulated through case studies in an industry that does not invest much in research. Recently, for example, I have started to wonder whether the addition of green lipped mussel or pernease to dog and cat foods may be implicated in some seizure activity or predisposition to muscle tremors and epilepsy since it contains high levels of copper, made higher by concentration in supplements. This is the kind of information that integrative vets use to evaluate the efficacy of natural medicines and ensure that people get the best available advice for pet health. Organisations of holistic vets from around the world collaborate their case studies and independent research so that all practitioners benefit from shared knowledge and experience in CAVM.

Integrative veterinarians utilise a holistic approach to thinking about each case of animal disease and many natural medicines feature in treatment programs. Appropriate diets are an absolutely essential part of optimum health maintenance.  and chewing is a major factor in strengthening immunity of cats and dogs. images

Most integrative vets who employ homeopathy and herbal medicine also employ physical therapies that help to reset the brain axis and homeostasis. Holistic vets assist animals to heal themselves by restoring mechanisms that are weakened by many factors including stress, grief and environmental influences.

These physical therapies include, but are not restricted to, acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic/biomechanical medicine, Bowen, Orthobionomy, Myofascial and trigger point therapy and massage. None of these are taught in veterinary schools in Australia but can be invaluable healing tools in trained hands. It should also be noted that in untrained hands these techniques are not advised, as they can be harmful and used in isolation can also delay or prevent adequate diagnosis and proper treatment options.

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Holistic and Integrative Veterinarians can be located in most states of Australia and anyone seeking CAVM for their pets or animals should ask their regular veterinarian for referral or visit Integrative Veterinarians Australia website directory.

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Truth does not
Challenge anybody.

Sri Chinmoy

 Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 31

Holistic Animal Medicine

Friday, June 27th, 2014

This posting arises from the concerns that I have had for quite some time about people not being able to access the best service and advice about the health needs of their beloved pets and animals, with regard to complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM).

The Australian veterinary profession has been too slow to respond to the rapid rise in popularity of natural animal medicine and holistic animal medicine over many years. This has afforded many individuals the opportunity to fill a much needed gap in the provision of natural animal health services and has created a bit of a black hole for animal disease diagnosis and treatment.

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There are many, far too many, websites and companies providing  holistic animal medicines to the public without any veterinary knowledge or proper training in animal health. This also means without qualifications to diagnose and treat animal disease properly, ethically and legally. This does not mean however that animal naturopaths and homeopaths are not trained or experienced, just that they are not registered veterinarians with accountability to a regulatory body that ensures that the best interests of the public and the animals is upheld as a priority over sales.pig

As a concerned and often desperate animal owner, it is true that it can be hard to find the right advice and treatments. Often your regular veterinarian will not know about natural, holistic or alternative medicines but it is imperative that any supplements or medicines or natural health products that you choose to administer to your pets is safe, effective and appropriate. Website testimonials are not a safeguard against this issue.

For example, it is not ever advisable to give animals multiple medicines simultaneously and this includes medicines or remedies that are comprised of multiple ingredients. I am seriously alarmed by the types of medicines being sold to animal owners via internet sales that are not prescribed for the individual animal and contain numerous components when single ingredient homeopathy is best practice. It is also not necessary to continue medicating beyond clinical response and many people will continue to purchase and use medicines far beyond what is necessary for optimal health.

Homeopathy and holistic animal medicine is founded upon the premise that practitioners treat individuals.This means that medicines are prescribed for the individual and not just for the diagnosis or the disease.

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I used to spend a lot of my professional time detoxifying and re educating animals that have been overly medicated, albeit by very well meaning and loving owners who have purchased medicines over the internet without proper personalised veterinary advice. Fortunately more and more animal owners are aware that veterinary options exist to direct them towards safe and effective natural animal health practices.Sabrina There are many veterinarians who provide a range of CAVM including naturopathy, homeopathy and holistic animal medicine. In Australia these can be found through Integrative Veterinarians Australia.

The foundation of holistic animal medicine is individualised treatment programs. These are not ever provided sufficiently or exclusively through internet sales and marketing. Furthermore, anyone who is looking for the best natural medicine treatments for their beloved pets would want to visit a qualified veterinarian who can then refer them to a holistic vet for CAVM.

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