BY AJ TRAGER
BERKLEY – For many pet owners, taking good care of their pet’s health is a top priority. Just like their human counterparts, pets need a healthy diet, exercise and companionship in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and many families are choosing a holistic approach to the more conventional way of practicing medicine.
Natural Healing Pet Care in Berkley specializes in holistic medicine for dogs, cats, rabbits and sometimes ferrets and is run by Dr. Nicole LeVeque and Dr. Eva Groesbeck, graduates of the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Together they incorporate acupuncture, veterinary spinal manipulation therapy, nutritional counseling, anesthesia-free teeth cleaning, laser therapy, traditional Chinese herbal therapy, homeopathic remedies and use of essential oils into their health practice. Their techniques may be different than the application of prescriptive medicine and medical operations that are found in conventional medicine, but for LeVeque it’s not just a way to help the animals, but a way of life.
“I’ve always wanted to work on animals, since I was little. I’ve always been interested in treating the body more naturally. It has always made more sense to me than the conventional way. So, I’ve married those two (approaches),” LeVeque said.
She still integrates some conventional medicine, using oral and pulse diagnostics, ultrasounds and blood work and combines those practices with traditional Chinese medicine. Most of the time LeVeque focuses on the use of herbals and nutritional supports to improve strength and overall health of the animal.
LeVeque is well versed in the dangers of using herbals improperly. Through her education at the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and the Healing Oasis for Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy, LeVeque received intensive instruction on combining herbal remedies for illnesses.
“We are getting at the imbalance and the root of the symptoms, trying to put together why there is a liver problem, ear issue and a bladder problem. And in conventional medicine, they may be thought of as separate issues. We try to look at the whole and see what the imbalance is that is tying all of this together; that is what we are aiming for,” LeVeque said.
Lifestyle choices are the key to living in good health, LeVeque says, which applies to both the pet and the owner. How the owner tweaks diet to make it healthier is extremely important for the animal, but there isn’t one diet for every patient, LeVeque says, nor is there one for the client. If the owner doesn’t make food for themselves, they are probably not going to make food for their pet on a regular basis. So, a homemade diet won’t work for everyone but is very beneficial for others. Including more recreational activities with the pet will dramatically improve pet behavior, as well.
“There was a dog who had some behavioral issues and the lifestyle was that he was bored. All he needed to do was some extra walking or playtime. It didn’t take a whole lot of extra time, but it made a huge difference to the dog, and the behavioral problems went away,” LeVeque said. “Unlike us, for the dog or the cats, their whole world is much smaller than ours. It is the house and whatever we do with them. So small changes for us are going to be huge changes for them. I try and put that in perspective for people.”
During a recent visit by BTL, LeVeque demonstrated the use of acupuncture. The veterinarian carefully placed needles that stimulated acupuncture points, correcting imbalances in the flow of energy through channels called meridians, which benefit the body and improve the health of the animal almost instantly. During this procedure, the dog — a black barbet — was casually seated on the floor, complete with wagging tail. After the removal of the needles, the pet immediately rose and scampered around the room.
“Energetically, they might not know what’s going on. They may feel something like there is a blockage in a certain meridian, so us putting the needle in releases that tension. I often hear from owners, ‘Wow, I thought my dog was fine, but now he’s playing like a puppy.’ There’s no placebo with a dog and cat, which is nice.”
However, working in animal healthcare comes with hard moments, too. LeVeque says the hardest part of the job is assisting in the care of animals who have cancer or illnesses with no cure.
“Many times people who come here — and I welcome them — but they use this as the last resort. Like everything else has failed. They’ve gone to their regular vet, the specialists — they’ve run the gamut; now we are their last hope. When a disease process has gone that far, it’s hard to bring them back. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the miracles, but it would be nice if we caught them when they were starting to go, when the first few symptoms started.”
Preemptive holistic care before the existence of clinical signs of deterioration begin is more beneficial to pet health. LeVeque does still see success with her cancer patients and says she experiences excellent results administering vitamin C therapy to them. Some of her other success stories include a dog with anal gland carcinoma who lived a year longer than projected through the clinical methodology at the Natural Healing Center. Another story involves a dog with a spinal tumor who was able to walk again after being treated by LeVeque.
For pet owners who are looking to expand their pet’s medical care, LeVeque does offer phone consultations and works side-by-side with the pet’s existing veterinarians.