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Ask a Vet: What Are Your Thoughts on Alternative Medicine?

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We asked veterinarian Dr. Susan O'Dell, "What are your thoughts on alternative medicine?" Read her response below!

Before I answer this question, I think it is important to note that I practice strictly traditional western medicine. I have no training in acupuncture, herbs, or homeopathy. That said, I believe that complementary medicine is exactly that: a wonderful complement to western medicine.

As an outside observer, I have witnessed dramatic improvements in patient condition after the use of adjunct 

therapeutics like acupuncture. I will never forget the first cat that I saw treated with acupuncture. Felix was a 19-year-old tuxedo cat, and his owner carried him gingerly into an exam room on a small round sherpa bed. Felix didn’t get up to greet me when I walked in the room; in fact, he barely raised his head. 20 minutes later, his weekly acupuncture treatment was completed. I then saw Felix get up from his bed, stretch his back and legs, and rub up against my hand, happily purring. To say I was amazed is an understatement!

I think that canine and feline patients offer amazing testimonials to the efficacy of complementary treatments. They have no preconceived notions of how they should feel or act. They have no expectations and no bias. When a treatment works for them, I consider the response a very positive review.

Because of my observations, I eagerly offer referrals to my clients for complementary treatments. If your pet has a medical condition, particularly for chronic illness, I absolutely recommend consulting a veterinarian trained in holistic medicine. Doesn’t your pet deserve the opportunity to feel even better?


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Dr. Susan O'Dell grew up in Michigan, where she received her Bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Michigan and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduating, she has practiced at animal hospitals all across New England, with a particular focus on educating small animal clients.

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