Interview with John Simon, DMV, of Woodside Animal Hospital in Royal Oak, MI
Dr. Simon has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 30 years and in 1982 became Detroit’s first certified veterinary acupuncturist. He also has a diploma from the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association and in 2011 became Michigan’s first “in house pet stem cell therapist.” In other words, Dr. Simon is a long-standing believer in the benefits of combining the best of eastern and western veterinary medicine for his patients.
We spoke with Dr. Simon about his philosophy on holistic health care for companion animals as well as some of his favorite therapies to treat seizures.
What are the root-causes of veterinary illness?
The causes of veterinary illness, from cancer in dogs to allergies and arthritis, can be traced back to physical and emotional stresses, toxins in your pet’s environment, genetic problems, musculoskeletal imbalances and nutritional deficiencies. These root causes can weaken or over-work your pet’s immune system, over-tax the liver to the point that is can no longer clean the blood effectively, cause malnutrition and reduce the ability to fight free-radical damage and cause hormone imbalances. The results of these situations can range from cancer, inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases and general malaise, pain and discomfort.
What is your philosophy on holistic veterinary health care?
Once we determine the cause behind your pet’s health issues, we can address elimination of the root causes. For example, we may suggest ways to limit your pet’s exposure to toxic chemicals in their environment, provide guidance with regard to a specific diet to provide the nutrients your pet needs, prescribe nutritional supplements, herbal medications and probiotics, provide musculoskeletal realignments to relieve pain and recommend acupuncture to help with pain management and re-balancing of your pet’s immune system. We will always recommend the most effective natural treatment before we try anything else.
When does traditional veterinary medicine work best?
There are cases where conventional medicine can help as well. For example, if your pet has an advanced, aggressive bacterial infection, we will prescribe an antibiotic to quickly get the infection under control quickly. We may, however, also use natural medicines to bolster your pet’s immune system so that it can better fend off future threats on its own. In cases of severe allergies where your pet cannot stop scratching and is in danger of secondary infections from hotspots, we may suggest a short course of cortisone therapy to control the itching increase your pet’s comfort. These ‘traditional’ pharmacological interventions provide natural remedies the time to take hold to root out the underlying cause of the itchiness. In these and other cases, our integrative approach to veterinary care seeks to create optimal conditions for your pet’s own body to heal itself naturally.
What types of holistic treatments would you prescribe for seizures?
Watching your fur baby have a seizure can be a frightening experience. The regimen of traditional medications and monitoring required to control seizures can also be scary. In order to decide on an effective holistic treatment regimen, we first have to determine the cause of seizures, which can occur in all animals, including dogs and cats. The most common causes include epilepsy, heat stroke, kidney failure, brain injury, encephalitis, brain abscess, stroke and liver failure.
Seizures that continue for more than five minutes or several seizures that occur in rapid succession with no consciousness are medical emergencies. The traditional seizure treatment for dogs and cats includes an arsenal of drugs like phenobarbital, potassium bromide and valproic acid that can cause unpleasant side effects. The use of these medications requires regular monitoring of serum drug levels and liver enzymes. A pet on these medications can suffer a seizure after missing only one dose of an anti-convulsant.
The first step in a natural treatment modality for seizures is a thorough evaluation of your pet to determine the probable cause(s) of the seizures and then design the most appropriate therapies accordingly. I have had success using a number of holistic options in seizure treatment for dogs and cats, including the following:
- Nutritional Supplements, including vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Vitamins which help with seizures include Vitamin B complex, Vitamin A and Vitamin D. In addition, the minerals zinc, calcium and magnesium can prove beneficial. The amino acid taurine is very important for the health of the central nervous system and should be added to any holistic protocol for treating seizures. Other nutritional supplements that should be considered include choline and dimethylglycine.
- Herbal remedies such as passionflower, skullcap and valerian can help manage stress and anxiety by reducing over-stimulation that can trigger an epileptic seizure.
- Homeopathic remedies are also important options. The most common remedies used by veterinarians are Night Shade and Cuprum Metallicum.
- Acupuncture works particularly well in dogs when used in conjunction with other remedies.
- I sometimes implant gold beads under the skin of the head and ears. These beads are implanted while your pet is under sedation.
- Gaba is a non-sedating and effective natural remedy that is well accepted when put in a pet’s food and has proved highly effective in controlling seizures.
- Cytokine therapy is one of the newer and most effective natural remedies that can be given orally and is safe and non-sedating.
Dr. Simon is a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association, and has served as an officer of the Southeastern Michigan Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Simon has lived his entire life in Detroit, Michigan, where he has been the owner of the Woodside Animal Hospital and Bird Clinic for over 25 years. He has been married over 30 years and is the father of two children and grandfather of two. He has a bearded collie, Casey, and an African Gray parrot, Gracie.
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