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With the number of Holistic Veterinarians on the rise in Australia, we wanted to let you know the differences between so called 'Traditional' vet care Vs 'Holistic vet care'.

These might include Acupuncture, TCM (Chinese herbal medicine) and nutritional regimes.

By way of a 'disclaimer', Internationally renown Complementary Veterinarian, author and lecturer Dr Barbara Fougere from All Natural Vet was in fact our 'go to' vet while we were living in Sydney.

Dr Barbara believes this trend in bringing the best of East and West together is helping more and more pets enjoy its benefits.

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TRANSCRIPT 

BRIAN:
OMMMMM - OMMMM,

KAYE:
What are you doing?

BRIAN:
Well, I thought I'd just set the scene you know, we're looking at the use of all this New Age sort of stuff.
TCM, acupuncture, herbs.  It's all pretty kind of out there.

KAYE:
Ummm... actually, what's old is new again when it comes to treatments

BRIAN:
Oh Okay!! Tell me...

KAYE:
There are lots of Aussie vets who are now choosing to treat their pet patients with the best of both East and West medical expertise… To explain it all, holistic Veterinarian, author and lecturer Dr Barbara Fougere.

BRIAN:
Barbara welcome…. We've got to ask you, what is the difference between natural and traditional veterinary care?

BARBARA:
Well, it's actually very similar in that we still use three traditional ways of working out what's going wrong with animals, but then we'll try and use very natural approaches to treatment.

And we're often treating animals that are responding poorly to conventional treatments or to medications. And people are looking for more gentle, perhaps safer, ways of treating their companions.

BRIAN:
I have to say, up front, you've looked at a couple of our dogs. But you haven't seen all of them yet.

BARBARA:
Oh my goodness!! (LAUGHS!)

BRIAN:
But they seem to be doing okay with what you've done and what some of your other vets have done with them. And we've followed some of the regimes. Some seem very strange. I think this is one of the things a lot of people think like it's just some kind of ooga-booga kind of powder. They say… “What does this do? What does that scent do?”

BARBARA:
I think there is a little bit of mystique about complimentary medicine, but in fact a lot of the things that we use have been around for quite a long time, and we've adapted them to animals rather than from people. And we know that these things work. We see it every day in our practice. And certainly our clients tell their friends, and they start changing their friends animals lifestyle, and they see the improvements.

One of the simplest things people can do to make sure their animals stay healthy. It keeps them lean. There's a lot of very overweight animals out there, and it's the most common nutritional problem out there.

BRIAN:
And there's a lot of overweight owners too!

BARBARA:
Well, absolutely. Look what's happening to people. We've got diabetes on the rise and all sorts of problems, similarly with animals. So if we can prevent those problems by helping them to lead better lives where we're in the right direction.

KAYE:
What sort of things can we do for some of these basic things? I mean, it is hard. We do think that “oh that doesn't look like much for a pet”, you know?

BARBARA:
Well, when it comes to feeding, one of the most important things is to know whether your animal is overweight or not. And if they are, it's probably a good idea to seek medical attention. Go and talk to your veterinarian about it because they can help assess what we call the body score. And we have a range from 1 to 5. And if you're on the high end, watch out!... You're going on a diet.

And there are different ways of losing weight, just as there are for people. A combination of good quality nutrition and exercise. And we do have a tendency to overfeed. We've only got little critters and we tend to feed them what we think they would like, and it's usually too much.

KAYE:
Yep!...  and the crusts off the toast in the morning!

BRIAN:
The other thing a lot of people do, …and we learnt pretty early on not to do this is, they leave the food out all day. The dog or cat’s got something to eat whenever they want you know?

BARBARA:
Yeah, well, dogs are opportunistic if there's something lying there that smells good and tastes good well, why not? So that's one of the first things to do is to start meal feeding by giving them small meals several times a day.

KAYE:
Now, moving on to some of the other things that people find. Not everyone has embraced acupuncture yet. It was something I got into years ago, but sticking needles into animals might seem a little odd to people when they find it hard to even clean their teeth or something.

BARBARA:
Sure, there's over 250 veterinarians now in Australia that are qualified in veterinary acupuncture, and it's becoming world, widely accepted as almost a legitimate form of treatment for animals because we do see great results with pain relief with some of the osteoarthritis conditions, back pain and even behavioural problems can respond to acupuncture, so it doesn't hurt much. Sometimes you get a sore point. But on the whole, most of my patients the first time, they're a little bit like, “What are you gonna do to me?” !!!

That's probably because their owners are a bit nervous about the needle. The second time I treat them, they're usually lying down, waiting for the needles. And by 15 minutes later, they’re either as sleep or very relaxed. So it has great sort of healing properties, reduces pain and really causes a nice relaxation for animals.

BRIAN:
The one thing we notice going to your practice is that it's all very kind of calm. It's calm in reception. The consult rooms are calm, they're lit in a nice soft manner. You've got cushions around and people can sit on the floor with their animals. It's just it's lovely. It doesn't have that very sort of sterile feeling.

BARBARA:
Well, we find that if our patients are relaxed, then we can actually provide a better treatment for them. And we do see a lot of animals that have a history of being extremely nervous or frightened. When they go to see the vet, they usually put on a stainless steel table and they shake then rattle and roll. They often come into our place and they don't really pick up that it's a veterinary clinic and they go ooh "hang on… who am I visiting now?”, so they're actually much more relaxed.

We all know that if we go to the doctor a bit nervous, we don't listen half the time, we don't get the best treatments. So being more relaxed really helps.

BRIAN:
Barbara, tell us about herbal medicines. What's all that about?

BARBARA:
Well, there's been a huge Renaissance in herbal medicines. It comes about because prior to about 1960 if we go to any of our old veterinary textbooks, we'll find herbs mentioned in there as mainstream medicines, and we forget that most of our drugs actually originate from plants. And so we're looking at the science behind herbal medicine and how we can use the special things within plants to improve our animals' health.

And I couldn't practice any more without herbs. I sometimes wonder what on earth I would do if I went into a regular practice and I didn't have my herbs with me because there's nothing like them, particularly for some of those chronic conditions, things like itchy skin and cancer and behavior problems. We get some wonderful results with herbal medicine.

KAYE:
Okay, now ... for itchy skin for example, what kind of herbs are good for itchy skin?

BARBARA:
Well, once again, we use our conventional procedures for finding out why the dog is itchy. They can have allergies they can have, parasites, fleas, food allergies. There's a whole range of reasons. So we need to understand why they're itchy. And then we can actually tailor the particular herbs to try and change the way the body is responding to those things. Just topically, things that work very, very well are oatmeal. So if your dog’s, particularly itchy, then you want to settle the skin down quickly, so get some porridge.

You don't want to cover your dog in cooked porridge!!, (LAUGHS) but you can actually get some milky white water once we soak your raw oats in it, and you  can actually use that as a rinse on your dog, and that can really settle down the skin.

In fact, so much so that there are quite a few veterinary shampoos now that actually has oatmeal commons in them. And that's because it's an old fashioned treatment that works and then obviously they incorporate that into these products.

BRIAN:
I imagine diagnosing problems is perhaps the same as a traditional vet overall. Well you are a traditional vet of course, but actually treating the problems itself. You go about it in sort of two ways, don't you?

BARBARA:
In terms of finding out what's going wrong, sometimes we see patients where all the tests have been done or the next step for the test is something quite invasive, and people are a little reluctant to put their dog under the surgery or through some sort of special procedure. We're very fortunate because we can use other ways of working out what's wrong. For example, we pay a lot of attention to the color of the tongue.. and you’re probably thinking “the tongue”??!!

But if you go and look at your dog's tongue and compare it to other dogs' tongues, you'll see there are differences in the shape, in the color, in the size. And in Chinese medicine terms, that gives us a lot of information. It's the only muscle in the body you can actually see, and it can reflect what's happening in the rest of the body. So we use the tongue, and we also have a feel of the pulse not to make sure they're alive or not... (LAUGHS) but we can actually feel different qualities about the pulse, and it can tell us a lot about what's happening on the inside.

KAYE:
Yeah, that's good. Definitely. I knew about the pulse for humans, but of course, didn't even think that you can use that with animals too. Hmmm… Okay, we'll have to have a look at the dog's tongues.

BRIAN:
Oh, we certainly will… well thankyou Dr. Barbara Fougere from All Natural Vet in Sydney – it’s been great to chat with you again. Just go to NaturalVet.com.au and you'll find out a lot more about the work Barbara and her great team do.

BARBARA: Thank you Brian & Kaye 😊

You Can Also Listen to our Podcasts via the following Apps...
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