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General News · 28th June 2013
Ester Strijbos
Dr Matheson graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, Saskatoon in 1995, and has been practicing in the Comox Valley for the past 10 years. Dr Heather is a fully trained Western Medicine Veterinarian who has incorporated Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Chiropractic care, Herbal Medicine and Homeopathy into her daily treatment regimes.

Integrated care for older dogs.

By Dr. Heather Matheson, Balanced Paws Veterinary Care

“One type of medicine just can not do it all. Western Medicine shines in emergency situations, for diagnostics and for ‘damage control’. Eastern or integrated medicine shines in geriatric care, maintaining health and balance and in treating chronic issues such as skin allergies or inflammatory bowel disease. For example, antibiotics may be prescribed for a bladder infection but if repeated infections occur integrative medicine gets to the root of why and is able to change the underlying pattern or deficiency.”

A dog named ‘Tali-Banana’ is an example of integrating several different modalities to maintain good quality of life. ‘Tali’, was born with three legs but being a typical border collie never slowed down long enough to notice the missing limb. At 11 years of age ‘Tali’ had her first stroke and was having more issues with seasonal skin allergies and developing arthritis in her one front leg, as well as, weakness in her hind end. ‘Tali’s’ treatment regime looked something like this:

‘Tali’s diet was changed to a home made cooked diet eliminating chicken. It was cooked because being an older dog she had difficulty digesting raw food. Real food instead of processed kibble to improve nutrition and no chicken as it contributed to her skin allergies.

Chiropractic adjustments were recommended as needed because being a typical border collie ‘Tali’ did not realize her physical limitations and often zigged when she should have zagged. Correcting any spinal subluxations also helped decrease the progression of arthritis and improve muscle pain and sensitivity.

Acupuncture treatments helped immensely with the arthritis in ‘Tali’s’ one front leg and weakness in her hind end. When ‘Tali’ had a stroke the symptoms dramatically improved with acupuncture treatments. “There were several occasions we thought she was ‘done for’ only to see ‘Tali’ rally, with the help of acupuncture, and continue on her happy way.”

Herbs were prescribed to decrease pain and inflammation and the formula was altered to drain damp heat when her seasonal skin allergies flared up.

Western Medicine drugs were used intermittently. Medicam (an anti-inflammatory) was used only if ‘Tali’ really overdid it but given on an ongoing basis it upset her stomach. Antibiotics were prescribed only if a secondary bacterial infection occurred.

Homeopathic medication was particularly helpful after any stroke to relieve ‘Tali’s’ dizziness, instability and nausea.

‘Tali-Banana’, a dog that had been brought in at the age of 6 weeks to be euthanized because she had been born missing a front leg, passed away at the age of 14 having lived and extremely active and happy life. ‘Tali’ certainly needed more help in her geriatric years but by integrating a treatment plan specifically for her and adjusting it as needed we were able achieve and maintain the best quality of life for her.

Our animal-family gives us so much it is nice to give a little back when they need it.

Dr. Heather Matheson is the owner of Balanced Paws Veterinary Care at 250-871-4355, 2785C Mansfield Drive in Courtenay (across from the Air Park). Visit this page for more information