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Highlights of the 2014 Holistic Veterinary Conference

This article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s The Daily Vet column on PetMD as Highlights of the 2014 Holistic Veterinary Conference. I recently had the pleasure of attending the 2014 American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association(AHVMA) Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon. It was my first opportunity to go as a conference participant (as we veterinarians regularly must accrue continuing education hours), but I was also there in an official capacity to represent Spectrum Labs and give a lecture on Vaccinosis (the syndrome of health problems that can correlate to vaccine administration). In fact, my presentation inspired two articles on the topic for petMD: Preventing Vaccine Associated Illness in Pets, Part 1 and Part 2 There were many great educational, networking, and social happenings occurring at this conference. I finally was able to get some face time with my fellow holistic practitioners, some of whom are my advisors on the Veterinary Information Network (shout out to my fellow Angeleno, Dr. Richard Palmquist), and others who have many years of experience on me and who have witnessed the remarkable progress holistic veterinary medicine has made integrating into conventional clinical practice. Here are some of my highlights:

Learning About Fecal Transplants via Dr. Margo Roman

There are so many forward-thinking veterinarians that are AHVMA members. One in particular is Dr. Margo Roman of Massachusetts. She’s currently developing commercially-applicable products that will permit our pets to undergo fecal transplants. Yes, you heard that correctly — fecal transplants. Actually, the process is quite simple. A healthy animal that has been screened for and cleared of potentially hazardous illness and fed a diet suitable to the requirements of the product’s manufacturer donates fecal material to help repopulate the gastrointestinal tract of another animal in need of a microbial boost. Pets suffering from stomach and intestinal health problems, cancer, immune-mediated diseases, and other ailments can potentially benefit from having a fecal transplant. The concept really shouldn’t be so foreign or nausea-inducing, as it’s done in humans, too (Science Daily article: Fecal transplant pill knocks out recurrent C. diff infection), and has been mass-marketed in a more palatable format through probiotic supplements. I look forward to working with Dr. Roman in the future to enhance the digestive and immune-system health of my patients via fecal transplants.

Better Understanding the Holistic Approach to Veterinary Oncology

I jumped at the opportunity to attend a lecture on the holistic approach to veterinary oncology presented by the wise and worldly Dr. Nancy Scanlan. I learned of the importance of iron supplementation in cancer patients suffering from anemia related to bone marrow suppression by their disease or chemotherapy. After all, iron is an integral elemental component of hemoglobin, an oxygen carrying metalloprotein found in the red blood cells. Our bodies depend on hemoglobin to transport oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the body tissues. Hypoxia (low blood oxygen) can make a pet feel lethargic, have a decreased appetite, and generally not seem to be doing very well. Such is not a scenario we veterinarians want for our patients as it then becomes hard to tell if the patient’s cancer or cancer-related ailments are worsening or if chemotherapeutic drugs are creating undesirable side effects. Essentially, the role of iron in the formation of hemoglobin and oxygenation of tissue is a vital part of disease treatment and promotion of whole-body health. Veterinarians can give iron as an intramuscular (into the muscle) injection to start, and then provide patients with an oral supplementation on a consistent basis. One of my preferred products to augment my patients’ Vitamin B and iron levels is Rx Vitamins for Pets Amino-B Plex. It’s a liquid that can be mixed with tasty, moist food or administered directly “per os” (by mouth) straight via the provided dropper or combined with a flavorful liquid and given via syringe. Owners should always consult with their veterinarian to determine if iron injections or oral supplementation is appropriate for their pets.

Getting ZYTO Balance Tested for Standard Process Products

I have patients (and some of their owners) who undergo muscle testing to determine what therapeutics can best benefit their health. Having been intrigued by this type of energetic-based diagnostic approach, I’ve been seeking a practitioner to help me with my own mild-to-moderate issues with chronic pain (I’ve got intervertebral disc disease and osteoarthritis). Standard Process is one of the companies making products I widely provide to my canine and feline patients and in my own body. Dr. Susan Howell, a veterinarian and Standard Process representative, oversaw my energetic evaluation with a technique called ZYTO Balance biosurvey (“an exchange of information between the computer and your body”). ZYTO Balance determines the Stress Profile of one’s energetic state at the time of the biosurvey and determines Biomarkers, which are “a subset of Virtual Stimulus Items that represent anatomical landmarks such as an individual vertebra, organs, etc.”  From there, Standard Process products that can help normalize Biomarker Virtual Stimulus Items that are exceeding a range boundary (i.e., out of sorts for my body at the time of testing). There were two primary Standard Process supplements that corrected the greatest number of Biomarker Virtual Stimulus Items that I started taking upon returning to Los Angeles. I must say that within 24 hours of taking both of these products three times daily I’m feeling much better (improved energy, reduced generalized pain, etc.). I’m not a big believer in the placebo effect, so I feel that the ZYTO Balance results are legitimate. I’m still planning on pursuing a consultation with a practitioner that does non-ZYTO Balance muscle testing to get an up-to-date assessment of my current health status and energetic needs.

Introducing the New Honest Kitchen Recipes

I’m a big fan of canine and feline foods made by The Honest Kitchen (in fact, I work for them as a veterinary consultant). Meals, treats, and supplements offered by The Honest Kitchen are whole-food based and human-grade (meaning the products are made in an FDA inspected human-grade food production facility). The majority of other pet foods and treats are considered feed-grade as they are generally made with poorer quality ingredients, can potentially harbor higher levels of toxins (some that are even carcinogenic or cancer-causing), and have been deemed unfit for human consumption. Therefore, I recommend my cat and dog patients eat meals and treats made from human-grade ingredients (see petMD article: Are You Poisoning Your Companion Animal by Feeding 'Feed-Grade' Foods?) The Honest Kitchen recently introduced three new canine diets that seemingly speak to the sensibilities of holistic veterinarians. Clients typically come to holistic veterinarians seeking nutrition advice that is seemingly not being provided by conventional (e.g., non-holistic, conventional, etc.) veterinarians who generally don't share the perspective that dogs and cats should eat whole-food, human-grade diets that are similar in format and commensurate in quality to those that people consume. Halcyon is a nutritionally complete and balanced meal for dogs having a novel protein source in cage-free duck and other ingredients less-commonly found in commercially available pet foods like organic oats, organic buckwheat, chia seeds, and peas. Dogs having skin or gastrointestinal allergies may benefit from eating foods containing protein, carbohydrate, and other food constituents they’ve not previously consumed (i.e., to which they haven’t developed an intolerance or allergy). Hale is a fruit, vegetable, and whole grain (organic oats, organic millet, and organic buckwheat) base mix that can be combined with an owner’s choice (or veterinarian’s recommendation) of meat and water or broth to create a healthful canine meal. Kindly is a grain-free, potato-free and fruit-free vegetable base mix that makes a meal similar to Hale. The “multi-free” aspect of Kindly is widely appealing to owners seeking diets for their dogs who have problems digesting or health problems that could be worsened by consuming grains, potatoes, and fruits (this school of thought is often applied to patients suffering from cancer). Honest Kitchen also launched a Vet Ambassador Program where foods can be purchased at wholesale pricing to be dispensed in veterinary facilities and referral rewards can be earned.

Meeting AHVMA President Barbara Royal

I’d heard so many great things about outgoing AHVMA President Dr. Barbara Royal, and I felt as though I already knew her due to our co-hosting duties on Holistic Vets, one of the programs on Tracie Hotchner’s Radio Pet Lady Network (RLPN). Finally, the chance for a face-to-face meeting occurred. I so admire Dr. Royal’s dedication to her craft, as she’s also founder and owner of Chicago’s Royal Treatment Veterinary Center, and promotes holistic veterinary medicine on a global basis. I’m greatly looking forward to the 2015 AHVMA Annual Conference in Augusta, GA. I’ve submitted to be a speaker on the topic that’s very personal to me — canine lymphoma (submitted title: Canine Lymphoma Treatment: The Integrative Approach) — based on my experiences treating my own dog Cardiff’s lymphoma and immune mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA). So, I hope my speaker submission is accepted and I’ll be going to the conference as both a presenter and attendee next year. Thank you for reading this article.  Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond). Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook. Copyright of this article (2014) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.
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