Natural and holistic healthcare for humans has been around for centuries. However, acupuncture, homeopathies, meditation, massage, etc. have gained traction over the decade. With the recent CBD movement, even more craze around non-pharmaceutical approaches to our healthcare has blossomed.
As our pets have made their way to the forefront of our daily lives, I was wondering if this natural healthcare wagon that our human friends have jumped on has picked up any furry companions along the way.
Wanting to know what was available to and safe for our four-legged family members, I sat down with Dr. Julie Jones of Veterinaire Pet Care in Journal Square. Having been Felicity’s vet for the last few years, I knew of her interest in using acupuncture and other alternative methods in her veterinarian practice and wanted to hear her thoughts on the benefits of holistic pet care as well as what she feels all pet owners need to know.
JB: How long have you been a practicing veterinarian?
Dr. J: At the beginning of June, it will be 12 years. However, I’ve been doing this since I was 15 because I was a tech and an assistant. This is all I’ve done pretty much my whole life. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with animals. It was just something that I always knew I wanted to do. My parents always knew too so they pushed me in that direction. I’ve just always had this natural affinity towards animals. It’s my calling. It was the dream that I was born having in my heart. It’s my purpose.
JB: How would your describe your style of treatment? I know you do acupuncture, but in addition to that, what are some other natural methods that you use in your practice?
Dr. J: In addition to acupuncture, I also do herbal medicine, which is based on examining an animal and coming up with a pattern diagnosis that incorporates lifestyle factors, examinations of their tongue and pulse and general overall conditions. The examination focuses on things your traditional western examination wouldn’t focus on so much.
I do some homeopathy too, which is helping the body heal itself. I am also a big nutrition nerd. I am really into nutrition for myself so I’m looking to pursue something in nutrition through the organization that certified me in acupuncture.
I like to marry the best things from all the different alternative ways of treating pets: Chinese herbs, acupuncture, homeopathy, raw diet. That’s my own brand of what I do.
JB: Talk to me some more about the benefits of using acupuncture with pets. What is the most incredible outcome you have seen?
Dr. J: Acupuncture is amazing. I saw a dog with disc problems that was told elsewhere that it would never walk again. We started biweekly electro acupuncture sessions. The dog was dragging when it came into my office and within probably about 6 weeks it was walking.
Another nontraditional way to use acupuncture is with cancer treatment. There are a lot of people who do not want to pursue chemo and do acupuncture instead as a care plan. Many end up living way longer than they were told they were going to live. There are some instances when chemo can be effective but sometimes it makes them feel not so great. On the other hand, animals love to get acupuncture here. We create this whole environment where it’s very pleasant for them. They’re listening to meditation music, we’re giving them treats, we’re giving them so much attention and they love it. We’re creating a really positive, healing atmosphere and they walk out of here feeling good, wagging their tail, and feeling happy.
More and more I’m wanting to use acupuncture as preventative care in my practice, making it part of a wellness visit, so stay tuned because that should be coming soon.
JB: Are you the only vet in Jersey City practicing natural pet care?
Dr. J: I don’t know of many or any in this area. A lot of them are in the city. It’s just not as common.
JB: What do you think is the biggest misconception about pet care? If you could talk to every pet owner, what would you say to him or her?
Dr. J: I’m going to speak to CBD. What I want to get across is that there are a lot of CBD products. I remember sixth months ago there were so many human products out there and there were not as many for animals. Now, I’m seeing the animal market boom. People saw how good it was for people and now on the animal side, everyone wants in on the CBD. It’s a hot topic right now.
I think what’s really important is knowing what you’re getting. Not all CBD products are created equal. A friend of mine gave her cat a CBD product that she bought on Amazon and the cat vomited. Most people do not know dosing for pets. They’re taking guesses based off a human dose.
I’ve been telling people to ask the supplier what the animal dosing is and to ask for an analysis of what is actually in the product. Anybody can make this stuff and you have no clue what you’re getting. Make sure that you know what is in the product, that there has been an analysis and that it has been “okayed” for animals. There are some synthetic ones from outside of the country and they can be unsafe.
I think there is a general misconception that all of this stuff is going to be fine because it’s holistic, but you still have to be careful because anyone can make it and it’s not regulated by the FDA.
JB: Is there a website or brand that you trust and recommend to your patients?
Dr. J: My go to is HempRx. It’s a hemp-based product that’s very high in CBD. I actually have it here and it’s tested. We stock it and cannot keep it on the shelves. That’s how popular it is.
JB: What are the benefits of the product?
Dr. J: It is really great as a general anti-inflammatory. We’re starting to use it a little bit more in seizure patients. Anxiety is a big one, too. If there are dogs that suffer from separation anxiety and mom or dad doesn’t want to put them on Prozac, it is a great alternative. I’ve been using it quite a bit for that. Also it’s good for pain and general well-being. I do think that it does help out their appetite too. It makes them feel better so they’ll want to eat. There are so many uses for it.
JB: In general, what are a couple big things that you want pet owners to know?
Dr. J: Number one is absolutely get pet insurance. You just never know and I’ve seen finances really stress people out and they get emotional. It’s just peace of mind and there are so many insurance companies right now and you can have your pick. A lot of people are getting them through your companies. Ask your company, “Do you have a plan?”
The other thing would be that you don’t have to vaccinate for every single thing under the planet. There is a vaccine for everything. I think it really is important to have an honest discussion with your vet about what they really need. A lot of these vaccines are lifestyle dependent so you want to have a good, honest conversation with your vet and really see what’s necessary. Up until very recently, people were vaccinating against distemper and parvo every year. You don’t have to do that. Some of the vaccines have demonstrated duration of immunity for years and years. What we’re starting to do here is a blood test that tells you whether they are protected against something and if they actually need the vaccine.
My last thing that is really good for pet owners to keep in mind is not to haphazardly switch your food. Even if it’s the same brand but a new flavor, that should be treated like a new food. A lot of people have said to me, “Okay Doc, I’m going to switch from chicken to liver.” If you’re going to do that you have to do it over a period of 7-10 days, even though it’s whatever brand, you have to do it slowly.
Dr. Julie Jones’ office is located at 25 Senate Place in Journal Square. If you would like to meet her and talk more about holistic pet care, she will be offering a free pet first aid course at our first Pets of JC Meetup