Natural remedies for critters?

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      More and more pet owners are saying “Why not?”

      At first glance, the case file might appear to belong to a human patient instead of the furry, four-legged kind—in this case, a four-month-old female Great Dane.

      She is a patient at the Vancouver Animal Wellness Hospital on East Broadway, and when she came in she was jumpy, fearful, and showing signs of extreme anxiety.

      Before putting her on antianxiety drugs, veterinarian Michael Goldberg wanted to try a homeopathic remedy. He did a battery of exams, including a blood test and personality and physical profiles. He also did a computer-generated analysis to help narrow down which homeopathic tincture to try first.

      The analysis called for hyoscyamus, a plant-based sedative, and after three months of use, there is good news: the patient is remarkably improved. The Great Dane is just one of a growing number of the Wellness Hospital’s clients to be treated unconventionally. Goldberg estimates about 25 percent of his practice is strictly homeopathic—a statistic that reflects a trend in animal care toward the use of natural healing methods, including homeopathy, neutraceuticals, herbal remedies, massage, acupuncture, and even chiropractic treatments.

      In fact, the line between pet care and human health care is starting to blur, Goldberg says. “We might suggest an herb for somebody’s pet and the owner will say, ”˜Oh, that’s what I take,’” Goldberg says. “Or we’ll treat the pet successfully with a homeopathic remedy and the owner will ask for a referral to a regular homeopath.”

      North Vancouver resident Janine Timmons is a case in point. Her natural meds can be found alongside those of her 12-year-old cat, Jerry. The feline has been taking Rescue Remedy—a popular antianxiety tonic—for the past three years, and Timmons swears by it. “Before, he’d get so that he just couldn’t settle,” she says. “Now when he gets bad we’ll give him a few drops, and in 10 minutes he’s able to settle down enough to fall asleep.”

      Timmons treated another of her cat’s chronic bladder problems with Cranberry Comfort, a supplement made by the NaturVet line that includes cranberry extract, Echinacea purpurea, marshmallow root, and vitamin C.

      She takes her pets to veterinarian Janice Crook, who reports that 80 to 85 percent of her practice at the Mosquito Creek Veterinary Hospital in North Vancouver is based on alternative medicine. Treatment options range from drugs and surgeries to acupuncture, chiropractics, herbs, and homeopathy. Although the holistic pet-care trend might seem a tad precious, like buying doggie jewellery, it shouldn’t raise eyebrows. After all, it mirrors what’s been happening in human health care for years.