Archive for the ‘Integrative Veterinary Medicine’ Category

Blessings for a Happy, Compassionate New Year

Allen07

Dr-Allen-Schoen
Wishing all my kindred spirits a Happy New Year with a unique perspective on what True Happiness can look like….

After taking a bit of a retreat from blog writing, I am excited to share this heart advice from a Buddhist teacher on what happiness is

based on their perspective. I wish you all a truly transformative 2014!

This past year has been filled with seeing patients, large and small, lecturing about integrative veterinary medicine, mind/body medicine and the human animal bond throughout the world and working on new projects to be of benefit to all that is.  I lectured at the World Small Animal Veterinary Congress in New Zealand as well as the Canadian Veterinary Association Annual Conference in Victoria, B.C., sharing new insights from my 35 years of practicing and teaching.  In addition, I began working on some new projects evolving from my work with the Charter for Compassion where I was involved in beginning to establish Western Connecticut State University as one of the first Compassionate Universities.

With my co-writer, Susan Gordon, a holistically oriented horse trainer, we have begun a project called “The Compassionate Equestrian”  (see www.compassionateequestrian.com).  We have developed 25 Principles of Compassionate Equitation based on her decades of experience as a horse trainer and my decades of experience as a holistic, integrative veterinarian based on our exploration of what is ultimate healing for horses and humans and the Charter for Compassion.  We invite you to assist in this co-creation by sharing your constructive, positive, compassionate thoughts and insights as we create this new program and book.

In addition, I am working on similar projects for companion animals and wildlife. If you would like to assist in any of these co-creations, feel free to contact me here.

After reflecting on how I might be of most benefit to all beings at this point on my veterinary journey and my personal life journey, I feel like integrating compassion based on the latest research in compassionate neuroscience, contemplative neuroscience and quantum physics along with classic traditions is how I may be of benefit.  I look forward to sharing more from this perspective this year on this blog as well as through upcoming books, retreats, and teaching.

If you are interested in hosting any retreats, workshops or teaching regarding this new approach, feel free to contact me here as well.

Blessings to all of you for a joyous, peaceful, healthy, creative, fun, compassionate New Year!  Again, I would like to share these profound perspectives on what Happiness is from a special teacher.

Happiness by Gendun Rinpoche from Heart Advice from a mahamudra master

Happiness cannot be found

through great effort and will,

but is already there, perfect and complete,

in relaxation and letting go.

Do not worry, there is nothing to do.

Whatever appears in mind has no importance,

since it has no reality.

Do not hold on to it, and do not judge.

Let the play happen by itself,

arising and passing,

without changing anything-

everything vanishes and reappears, without end.

Only your searching for happiness

prevents you from seeing it,

just like a rainbow that you chase

without ever reaching it.

Although happiness does not exist,

it has always been there

and accompanies you

in every moment.

Do not believe that good

or bad experiences are real.

They are like rainbows.

Wanting to grasp the ungraspable,

you exhaust yourself in vain.

As soon as you relax this grasping,

space is there — open, inviting and joyful.

Make use of it.

All is yours already.

Do not search any further.

Do not enter the impenetrable jungle

to search for the elephant

that is already quietly at home.

Nothing to do,

nothing to force,

nothing to wish for —

and everything happens by itself.

Gendun Rinpoche

Genetic Roulette Health Awareness

I would like to share some of the most important news that I have come across for disease prevention in both our animal friends and ourselves.  For most of my veterinary career I have been expounding the belief that we should feed our animal friends as naturally and organically as possible. I have seen so many diseases improve with simple dietary changes from allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, immune mediated diseases and cancer.  I have been well aware of doing my best to avoid genetically modified foods (GMO’s) in myself, my family and for my animal patients.  I just came across this new documentary, “Genetic Roulette” which is a free online movie that explains and summarizes all the potential hazardous effects of GMO’s on our food producing animals, our companion animals and humans.

Please watch this documentary, Genetic Roulette, and share it with as many people as you can.  We can all make this shift in awareness and improve the health of countless animals and people. I wish to keep this blog post brief, so you can spend your time watching this movie and spreading the word.  We can all help countless beings to quickly improve their health and happiness right now and that is what the Kindred Spirits Project is all about.  This is a key to preventive medicine for all beings.   Thank you for watching this and sharing it and spreading the word.  Let us create a healthier, happier world where compassion, health and happiness are more important than corporate greed and government corruption.

 

 

A Healthy Home for All Beings

A healthy home is an essential part of  preventive health care for us and our animal companions.  A friend and client suggested that I watch this video with Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Myron Wentz,  knowing that many of my foundational teachings and belief were encapsulated and visualized so well in this Health and Happiness summit.  I could not agree with him more after watching it.  These helpful suggestions are truly a foundation for our own preventive health care.  Certain cliche’s are cliche’s because they are so true.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is certainly one of these essential truths.  Many of the suggestions in this video pertain to our animal friends as well.   Though animals are not exposed to mercury in dental fillings, but they are exposed through thimerisol in vaccines.

As Dr. Wentz states regarding fluoride outgassing from frying pans, often times our animal friends are truly the canary in the cage.  This is quite evident more often than we might realize.  A relative of mine inquired about the sudden onset of asthma in her beloved cat.  Their veterinarian made the correct diagnosis and prescribed the correct medications.  However, too often, one does not question why the animal developed this condition suddenly in the first place.  My first question was what was different in the environment and had them review any changes in the house.  When I was visiting them and slept in the guestroom, I actually began to cough as I smelled something that was sickeningly sweet and toxic.  It was there new fabric fresheners that they put in the wash.  When discussing this with them, her husband actually said that he was coughing ever since that new freshener was used as well.  I suggested to stop using them and see how the cat and her husband were doing.  That solved the problem and they were able to stop using an inhaler medication and oral medication for the cat and her husband stopped coughing as well.  So often, we assume that many of these chemicals that permeate our environment are deemed healthy.  Often times, it is the exact opposite.  As my readers know, I am a huge proponent of the “Precautionary Principle”.  Science cannot possibly keep up with all the new chemicals we are exposed to.  Let us try to keep our environments as simple, back to basics and healthy as possible.  In the textbook I edited on Complementary and Alternative Medicine back in 1998, I had presented an environmental questionnaire developed by a human physician and one of the founders of the American College of Environmental Medicine  that I felt should be part of every veterinarians toolkit.  Instead of a life on hazardous pharmaceuticals, my relative’s cat is happy and free of asthma simply by figuring out the environmental cause of the asthma.  This is just one small example.

I was also thrilled to see that Dr. Wentz discussed electromagnetic pollution as I have written a number of blog posts about this ever increasing risk. I suggest that you read Dr. Wentz’s book and conduct an evaluation of your home and remove any toxins that can be hazardous to you and your animal companion’s health.  We will discuss more of the environmental triggers and potential health concerns in future blog posts.

May you and your kindred spirits live in a healthy, happy, toxin free environment.

 

Creativity and Compassion Conference

This past April I was asked to participate in a panel discussion on the integration of creativity and compassion into daily life at the Conference on Creativity and Compassion at Western Connecticut State University.  This is part of a program that is being developed at the University, culminating in a visit by the Dalai Lama to Western Connecticut State University in October.  They are developing a program on compassion and peace.  They are working together with a local Buddhist Monastery, DNKL  (dnkl.org).  I shared how throughout my entire career I have subconsciously integrated creativity and compassion into my veterinary journey pioneering new innovative approaches to integrative animal health care.  The conference committee filmed the entire conference and have just made it available on youtube.  You can watch the panel 5 which I am on and if that interests you, you can connect to the entire conference from there.  I would be interested in your own thoughts on creativity and compassion and how you have integrated them into your own lives.  This conference will be collated into a book that will be available in October for the Dalai Lama’s visit. I believe it will include a forward by the Dalai Lama. I have contributed a chapter describing how I have integrated them into my veterinary career.

I hope you may find these beneficial.

 

Natural Cancer Therapies

Exposure to Toxins

Cancer has quickly become one of the top causes of death in our companion animals.  It is well accepted now that the primary cause of many diseases is inflammation, from heart disease, to allergies, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease to cancer.  Over the decades of pioneering holistic integrative veterinary care, I have witnessed a tremendous increase in the incidence of cancer.  I believe it is naive to believe that it is just because we have better diagnostics.  Certainly there is a genetic predisposition for certain types of cancer in certain dog breeds, yet, a large percentage is secondary to all the toxic environmental exposures stimulating a chronic inflammation as well as the build up of toxins in the body.   There is a great deal of debate as to what role overvaccination, poor quality pet foods, chronic exposure to pesticides, herbicides etc. have on the body often then manifesting as cancer.  Personally, I am of the belief there is a tipping point of a toxic overload that then can result in the development of cancer.  This article on the use of baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, as a possible treatment for cancer stimulated the writing of this post.

Throughout my career I have been studying, searching and evaluating various natural, nontoxic therapies for cancer.  I have found that a combination of appropriate dietary management, nutraceuticals, chinese herbal formula’s, medicinal mushrooms and vitamins can cause a significant improvement in cancer, sometimes leading to complete remission or at least improving the quality and length of an animal’s life.  Recently I came across this interesting article on the use of baking soda in the treatment of Cancer.  The study is actually being conducted at the University of Arizona Medical School.  I have been aware of this treatment approach, but have not used it extensively in animals.  After reviewing the article, I find that there is indeed some merit in exploring the use of sodium bicarbonate, baking soda in the treatment of cancer in animals.  I will be exploring this approach more and discuss possible studies in animals.  I will keep you posted.

As with many conditions, the ideal is prevention rather than treatment.  The more we can optimize an animals nutrition and minimize exposure to toxins, the better the odds that one will not develop cancer.  Unfortunately with the increased exposure to more and more toxins, pesticides, poor quality food, and the so called “elephant in the living room”, the exposure to the increased radiation from the Fukushima diseaster, we will have to deal with cancer in animals as well as humans more frequently.  I will continue my commitment to explore natural, nontoxic approaches to help all of us live longer, happier, healthier lives.

Kindred Cats, Natural Care and Cancer

Healing Cats

Unique Help for Cats

I always like to share helpful blogs that focus specifically on different areas of my broader blog focus.  Recently I came across the natural cat care blog and was impressed with its content.  I found one particular post on an innovative approach to cancer in cats that fascinated me.  It describes a hands on healing technique developed by a Professor Bengston.  I am also searching for innovative, natural, nontoxic approaches to cancer, but  I must admit I am also a bit of a skeptic when it comes to hands on healing techniques that claim to heal cancer.  I would love to see them work, as the saying goes “the proof is in the pudding”.  I would like to see reproducible, documented results.  That said, the study conducted by Dr. Bengston is quite interesting.  His research titled “The Effect of the “Laying on of Hands” on Transplanted Breast Cancer in Mice”,  was published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration.

When a client asks me about my approach to cancer in cats, I offer them different options depending upon the type of cancer, the age and condition of the cat, the cat’s appetite and ease of administering supplements (liquids, capsules, powders, tablets), the client’s preferences regarding conventional approaches of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy vs. more natural approaches including diet, supplements, herbs, acupuncture and other complementary approaches or an integrative approach combining the best of conventional and complementary therapies.  I also share the importance of a human caretaker’s attitude and thoughts when around their cat and the impact that that may have on their immune system.  I  also suggest that they get the opinion of an integrative oncologist or at least one that is open to a more integrative approach and ask them about the specific success rate of the conventional approaches for that particular type of cancer in cats as well as the potential side effects.  I suggest that they inquire specifically what success means, living one month or one year.  The question based on all of these options is what is there quality of life like.  Cat’s really do live more in the moment and don’t think into the future “oy….I wanted to live till my next birthday or to some unknown future date.  Quality of life to me is more important that the length of time.

In addition to all these approaches, I would love nothing more than to see Dr. Bengston’s approach work either in conjunction with more traditional approaches or on it’s own.  I think that Liz’s description and perspective regarding this approach is valuable as well.  If you choose to try this approach,  alone or in conjunction with conventional and complementary therapies, please let me know what your experience is.  I always like to keep an open mind and hope to integrate more successful approaches into cancer care.

In addition, keep tabs on the natural cat care blog and see what their readers have to say.

The best prevention is minimizing exposure to carcinogens, feeding a well balanced, natural, organic diet and lots of love.

 

Walking In Sync with Your Kindred Spirit: A Breakthrough In Humane Dog Training

Walk In Sync Humane Dog Training


In addition to exploring the foundations of our universal interconnectedness, from inner and outer silence to consciousness, I also feel it is important to share very practical day to day foundations for your animals health including nutrition, exercise, humane training and preventive health care.  Appropriate humane, behavioral training is essential for a happy, healthy kindred spirit relationship.  Sharing your walks together is great exercise, but if your dog pulls, yanks or tries to chase other animals, it can make part of the walk a bit more challenging.  Alecia Evans, the brilliant developer of this harness and humane technique states that if  you “can’t take your dog all the places you want to due to: pulling, jumping, lunging, shyness, over-enthusiasm when greeting other dogs or people or if your dog leads you”, this approach may indeed solve all these issues. Watch this video: Dog Walk In Sync Technology Dog Walk In Sync Technology

I  am very excited and honored to share with you something I was just recently introduced to that I feel is the most revolutionary approach to humane, healthy behavioral training of dogs that I have ever come across.   Though I resist endorsing certain technologies and products, this is so evolutionary that I feel obliged to share this with all of you.  It is a new design of a humane harness for dogs that does not appear to cause any musculoskeletal alignment challenges to the dog and allows for a more dynamic, sensitive connection between you and your dog when walking with them.  It is called “Walk-In-Sync”. I have discussed this and other approaches with Alecia Evans, the dynamic, brilliant dog trainer, animal communicator, Chi-gong and breathwork instructor who  has developed this technology for the benefit of all dogs and their caretakers.  Check out Alecia Evans website and blog.  She has some extremely educational and insightful video’s on her breakthrough dog training approach.  I am recommending it to all my clients and followers.  I cannot put it any better than she has already, so check out her video’s and I suggest trying one for your dog, whether you have behavioral issues of pulling, yanking, resisting or just to have a much deeper connection with your dog when walking.

Let me know what you think and what your experiences are with “Walk-In-Sync”.

Blessings for a more enjoyable Kindred Spirit Walk!

 

Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants and More: How Do I Choose?

One of the most frequent questions I hear in my small animal integrative medicine practice is “Which supplements should I give my animal friends?”  There are so many pet foods, supplements etc. on the market it can be quite challenging for the nutritionally aware animal caretaker to know which ones they need and which ones to choose.  As the pet nutraceutical, supplement and food industry continues to boom, more and more companies are producing supplements and foods of questionable quality.  It is challenging even for veterinarians keep abreast of all the different companies and to know which ones are best.  Being a pioneer in this field for over thirty years, I have seen many supplements come and go.  It is not uncommon for a client to bring in a basket full of supplements that they have purchased either from other veterinarians, the internet or a pet food store.  They would pour them out on my exam table and ask me to review them for me.  Sometimes they will have even forgotten why they purchased them.  Sometimes they were out of date.  Sometimes they would not even list the ingredients!  As much as I love the natural health movement, I must admit, I have become somewhat disillusioned over the years as to how it has been usurped by profiteers, scam marketers, questionable companies and all the challenges of the marketplace. Amidst the onslaught of new companies and products, in order to assist my readers and clients,  I am in the midst of reviewing the latest products available.  Fortunately there are some out there that are of superior quality.  I will review these with you over the next few months.

A few general comments are in order now though.  The classic statement, “buyer beware” is appropriate for the field of pet foods and supplements as well.  If a product just makes claims on the labels and does not even list the ingredients, consider that one to go into the proverbial trash basket.  Know your manufacturer.  Quality is essential. It is not uncommon for a product to simply be labeled natural, healthy, or with a common title such as probiotic or arthritis supplement and have poor quality ingredients in them that somehow vaguely fit under those labels.   It is sad to say that even some veterinarians who have not received any additional training in nutritional supplements are not aware of all the challenges in choosing appropriate ones.  I must humbly admit that before I became more educated, I fell into that category as well.  It is beneficial for animal lovers to become more educated as to the quality of the products they feed their animal friends.  It is funny to hear sometimes when clients will begin to read labels for their animals supplements, they chuckle and often say “wow, I did not even know what to look for for my own supplements”.   It is a continual learning process.  I too continue to learn as I discuss supplements with colleagues, human nutritional supplement experts and review the cutting edge articles on nutrition.  We are living in a more and more polluted, toxic world and good nutrition and supplements are becoming more essential to maintain our health and prevent disease.  As Hippocrates said “Let your food be your medicine”.  I may spend more on quality organic supplements and some may question that benefit, but I believe judicious awareness and choice of appropriate quality natural nutrition and supplements is some of the best preventive medicine available.  It is so much wiser than treating disease.  The old cliche “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is more true today than ever before.

The entire field of nutrigenomics is becoming more widespread in veterinary health care as well as human health care.  Essentially, this is evaluating and recommending nutrition based on one’s genetic predispositions.  For instance, if you have a breed of dog that is prone to arthritis, it may not be unreasonable for you to begin nutritional preventive supplements earlier in their life, hopefully to prevent future progression of degenerative joint disease.  This is just one simple example.

Over the next few months I will share my thoughts on specific approaches to integrative health care and which supplements I find to be beneficial. In the meantime, do your homework, and do the best you can to keep your animal friends and you as healthy and happy as possible!

Lyme Disease in Horses and Dogs: Part 1

Tick

Tick

It seems like the incidence of Lyme Disease (Borrelliosis) (LD) and other tick born infections continues to rise and are flourishing this autumn.  I hear from clients about how their horses, dogs as well as themselves are just getting covered in ticks more than ever this season.  Tick born diseases have been increasing in the northeast and throughout North America for more than two decades.  In 1992, I published on one hundred horses that I diagnosed with Equine Lyme Disease based on my acupuncture physical evaluation.  I correlated my clinical findings with the horses laboratory diagnostic tests, response to antibiotic treatment as well as their behavioral history.  It seemed that  there was about  an 82% correlation of my physical examination with response to antibiotics and the laboratory tests.  I have diagnosed hundreds of horses and dogs with Lyme disease since then in the past two decades.  If left untreated it can cause severe debilitating disease and even death.  If not treated appropriately and quickly, it is not uncommon to see it reoccur and become a chronic disease with potentially devastating consequences.

Lyme Disease can be ubiquitous and quite challenging to diagnose.  It has commonly been termed “the great imitator” since it can mimic so many other common conditions.  Whenever I lecture on LD, I state that it is both overdiagnosed and underdiagnosed.  In  the past, it had only been considered part of a differential diagnosis if classic signs such as an acute onset of swollen joints and a fever were evident.  Clinically, I have found that it is not uncommon that the first signs may actually manifest as various sudden behavioral aberrations due to an immune mediated myofascial inflammatory reaction to the spirochaete.  In horses,  some of the first signs that my clients and I notice are a sudden reticence to being touched, groomed, being saddled up or ridden.  The horses may occasionally become aggressive to people when being touched or handled in anyway.     At this point, results from diagnostic blood tests may be negative since it is too early to develop a blood titer.  Unfortunately, too many veterinarians still base their diagnosis solely on the blood tests (Elisa and Western Blot blood tests) despite the reminders by the laboratories that they are not definitively diagnostic.  There is rarely one specific sign that is definitely diagnostic for just Lyme disease.  I use a checklist of criteria to decide if I think Lyme disease may be the cause of the animals signs. (more…)

World Small Animal Veterinary Congress

Dr. Schoen guided by Korean Hostess in Traditional Korean DressI just returned from the lecturing at the World Small Animal Veterinary Congress on Jeju Island in South Korea.  It was a joy to reconnect with old colleagues and friends throughout the world.  I saw veterinary friends from South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand,  Australia, New Zealand, China, as well as from the U.S. and Canada.  It was fascinating to hear from them about all the changes over the past few years in each of their countries amidst all the environmental, economic, political, social and conscious events of the past few years.

One story that was common throughout all the discussions was how essential animal companions had become in the midst of the massive shifts and changes throughout the world.  The unconditional love shared by our kindred spirits was becoming even more vital to help support the human soul as we maneuver through the accelerated earth changes.  As cities throughout Asia increase in population density, increase in busyness, noise, financial abundance, it seems the desire to share the small apartments with animal companions increases.  Why is this I pondered.  My feelings are that with increased emphasis on financial success, a super efficient, multi-tasking mind stream, never-ending to do lists, the heart continues to shut down.  The stress with other families members heightens and the one and only place one’s heart can receive solace, comfort, loving kindness and compassion is from our kindred spirits, dogs, cats, and other animals that we can share our homes with.  I hear this over and over again wherever I travel to teach and share about the human animal bond and integrative animal health care.

With the increase in the number of companion animals, veterinary medicine, pharmaceuticals, pet foods, supplements, new, innovative diagnostic and therapeutic modalities also are on the rise.  The quality of veterinary care improves and inadvertently so do the costs.  The dance between quality and expense must be continually evaluated and balanced based on the financial ability of the human caretaker and the life of their  animal.  The questions inevitably arise such as what price is too much to save an animal’s life.  There is no black and white answer to this and it varies from patient to patient, human to human, situation to situation.  This can be an emotional roller coaster for the veterinarian as well as clients.  It is then an opportunity for veterinarians to keep an open, compassionate heart in the midst of economic realities.  Not always easy.

One partial solution that I lecture on is the benefit of integrative animal health care and true prevention through proper, healthy, natural, balanced, nutrition along with appropriate nutritional supplements.  In addition, the importance of regular exercise and heart to heart, loving connections that both help support a healthy immune system, thereby preventing disease and expensive intervention.  These messages seem to reverberate well with most veterinarians, whereby they often have an “aha” moment on how these holistic preventive measures are truly the essence of health and happiness for all beings.

These messages seemed to especially resonate with the veterinary students that attended my lectures and I interacted with afterwards.  The Korean veterinary students reminded me  that my last book, “Kindred Spirits, How the Remarkable Bond Between Humans and Animals Can Change the Way We Live”, had been translated into Korean and shared how it nourished their souls as they worked their way through the academic rigor of veterinary studies.  As four idealistic and excited veterinary students proudly  showed me around their beautiful island, Jeju, the Island of Peace, as it is known,  I was able to guide them through different mind/body exercises and meditations that might help them balance their lives as they entered this noble, yet challenging profession.  We sat by the beach, by waterfalls and discussed how natural health care, mind body medicine, loving kindness and compassion can be integrated into modern conventional medicine and surgery.  It was nice to see, that these messages were so well received by new up and coming veterinarians, the future of veterinary medicine and health care.

In addition,  I was happy to hear from professors at Korean and other Asian veterinary schools how my textbook, “Veterinary Acupuncture, Ancient Art to Modern Medicine” was used as the essential text on Veterinary Acupuncture  throughout the region.  After taking a self-created six month sabbatical from teaching, writing and veterinary practice, it was heartening to see that veterinary students and veterinarians throughout the world are continuing to recognize the importance of natural health care and the human animal bond in the healing of the world as we all meander through these intriguing global changes.  Loving kindness and compassion  through the support of our animal companions are essential in the planetary re-adjustments and healing.