Endal, the renowned service dog who partnered Gulf War veteran Allen Parton, has died. He will be remembered for many years to come. Story P2
The magazine your dog would want you to read
Editorial: May-June 2009:
Alternative therapiesIT is sadly the case in Britain now, and I presume other countries as well, that any alternative therapist must obtain the permission of an animal’s veterinarian before practising a therapy on that pet. This works out well if the particular vet that you take your pet to is a forward-thinking person willing to work along with qualified therapists to help the pet's recovery. But not all vets have an open mind and some feel that agreeing to such therapies means admitting that they don't know everything!
and veterinary wiles
It can be said that the requiremant is a safety measure because not all practising alternative therapists are fully trained members of their parent organisation with credentials to prove it. However, there are vets who would fall loosely into that category as well there have been cases of fake qualifications and of vets who will sign any fake breeding papers for dodgy breeders as long as they get their fee. Then there are those who have not kept up with modern techniques and are not giving your pet the chance it deserves; followed by those who are tired, not working for themselves, and have long ceased to care, and finally the vet who is in it for the money first, second and third and will do anything to achieve that goal.
Let me make it clear this is a very small percentage of practising vets and I think considering it all, qualified vets and qualified alternative therapists must be acknowledged as starting off on an even footing.
Now vets come in all frames of mind there is the holistic vet, who is a trained and usually very efficient vet (you can tell this from his or her thirst for more knowledge) who also offers holistic treatments and will work with well-trained alternative therapists with the welfare of the pet foremost when considering treatment; then at the other end of the scale there is the vet with a closed mind who will refuse permission for any alternative work to be done on any pet because he or she ‘may be responsible’ if anything goes wrong (how that one can be justified I don’t know).
This type of vet is too lazy to investigate the benefits of alternative therapies or the techniques and whether they are beneficial he doesn’t care if the therapist is fully qualified, and just wants to stick to the vet school methods so that he can’t be blamed for anything and doesn’t have to tax his brain about anything new. Realistically, most vets come midway between these examples but to find out what owners want you just need to look at the client lists.
Holistic vets are popular so popular (and so rare) that they tend to have a waiting list to get on the appointment list, or if you are very lucky you can arrange a phone appointment with such vets within only a week or so. The vet at the other end of the scale tends to be easily accessible, loses clients because of attitude, and your dog doesn’t even like him or her.
I usually choose my vet by observing my dog that is called giving the dog choices. I used to go to a partnership clinic where one partner could not handle my dog at all (a Chihuahua at that time) and on my first visit had to ask me to hold the dog's mouth just for a basic examination, to avoid being bitten. The other partner, however, could do anything with the same dog this 'vicious' dog was just putty in the hands of that vet! Needless to say I soon began to take my dog to only the efficient one of the partners. I don’t necessarily mean efficient in that he knew more, but rather he was the one who perhaps cared more and passed that confidence and duty of care on to the dog.
There are many therapies that most dogs love (and there are some dogs who do not like some therapies, and in those cases do not insist, as the dog knows best how it feels) Bowen technique, T-Touch, sport massage, a swim in a warm therapy pool, acupressure, and many more. Here, I have to also class nutrition as an alternative therapy as it seems to be a secondary consideration by many vets. This is not surprising, in the UK anyway, as there is only one official nutrition course available for vets and others such as vet nurses and behaviourists etc to obtain a small animal nutrition diploma and work as a nutritionist, and that is run by a pet food company.
Now I am not saying that there is nothing useful in the course, just that to have a pet food company run an official diploma course in nutrition is like having a sugar company investigate the possibility of harmful effects from eating sugar the emphasis is inevitable. Holistic vets and small animal nutritionists are luckily there to guide you in good food practises for your dog or cat. Often, all the animal needs is a change in food or may even be allergic.
As with all walks of life there are good and bad vets, caring and uncaring ones, enthusiastic and bored ones; and I would expect the same of alternative therapists. Every owner has a choice and if unsatisfied can change vets at any time. Make sure your vet is one that will give your pet the best possible quality service for the money you are paying - your pet and your wallet deserve the best. - Liz