Dr. Laura Weis is the owner of Doylestown Veterinary Hospital and Holiday House Pet Resort, which has been caring for pets in the Central Bucks area for six decades.
You’ve recently added a Holistic Pet Care division to Doylestown Veterinary Hospital. How does a holistic veterinary approach differ from a more conventional approach?
I have been a conventional veterinarian for almost 20 years, and I love my job every day. It is interesting to talk about points of commonality between conventional and holistic veterinarians, as we all have the same goals: improvement of animal health, alleviation of animal suffering and strengthening of the human-animal bond.
My path to holistic medicine grew as I searched for better answers to improve animal health and treat chronic disease. I knew I wanted to move away from the tendency to compartmentalize problems and then address each one as though it lived in a separate box—a tendency we often see in the human health care model.
If a dog has skin disease and allergies, the dog’s skin isn’t sick—the dog is. As holistic veterinarians, we spend a lot of time exploring the whole life picture of each patient, trying to understand why that dog has itchy skin and addressing core problems rather than suppressing the symptoms of a sick animal with suppressive medications. This approach can take much longer, because there are no quick fixes in true healing. The body takes time to heal, and improvement can take weeks to months, rather than the minutes to hours we are used to experiencing using conventional medications. You cannot heal that itchy dog without also addressing nutrition and lifestyle, and ultimately I find this holistic approach to be extremely rewarding.
When should a pet owner consider holistic veterinary services?
Conventional medicine does a good job with acute problems: trauma, acute infections, dangerous anaphylactic reactions and other similar situations. For everything else, I find a holistic approach is superior. Ideally, young animals can be cared for by a holistic veterinarian, and the decrease in common problems that plague young animals—such as ear infections and early onset dental disease—is astonishing. Most of my patients come to me in a state of fairly advanced disease, and these chronic conditions are often better alleviated by holistic means. I find that pain control, allergies, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, chronic urinary tract problems, chronic digestive disturbances and even some cancers can all be addressed well with holistic medicine.
What’s in the future for Doylestown Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Pet Care?
We have found new and existing clients eager to learn more about the holistic services we offer. Some services, such as acupuncture, are widely used by many clients and have been for many years. Other services, such as homeopathy, are newer and less familiar.
We have just begun construction on a new exam room that is being designed specifically to accommodate appointments focused on holistic modalities. The goal is to have both the pet and his or her guardian feel more at ease in a comfortable, home-like setting. We are also expanding our training in the use of therapeutic lasers and herbal medicine, and we hope to add chiropractic care to our offerings soon.
You have a French bulldog and two cats. If you could add just one more pet to your family, what kind of animal would that be?
Maybe I should have stopped at the bulldog and the two cats! We added two Maremmas (siblings—these are Italian livestock guarding dogs that watch out for our chickens) and another silly cat, Samantha, who showed up on our doorstep as a fuzzy, four-week-old fluffball this past spring. Our outdoor animals include two alpine goats, three miniature donkeys and a flock of spoiled chickens. I would love to return to bee-keeping, which is a hobby I enjoyed when we first moved to Doylestown several years ago. So maybe my “one more pet” will be a few hundred honeybees!
Location: 380 N. Shady Retreat Rd., Doylestown. For more information, call 215-345-6000 or visit DoylestownVeterinaryHospital.com.