Happy & Holistic Pets
Two Vets Take a Different Approach to Animal Care, by Warren Douglas

You have to feel good about having your pet treated by veterinarians who bring their own dogs to work. In fact, at Holistic Veterinary Healing, you might be met by a four-legged canine before a two-legged human can welcome you.

However you are greeted, once inside the clinic in Germantown, you will discover that Drs. Pema Choepel Mallu and Kitty Raichura have a unique and different approach to treating pets.

While both doctors have decades of experience as practicing vets, Mallu and Raichura are grounded in the belief that a holistic approach to treating animals can be as effective – and in some cases more effective – than traditional therapies. Their treatment philosophy is a combination of a “Western medical approach and a Chinese medical approach” where an animal is examined in its entirety – body, mind, spirit and emotion – as well as its environmental factors.

“We look to see what the imbalances are that relate to the illness or what the imbalances are that relate to their whole constitution so we can treat the underlying cause and not just treat the symptoms,” Mallu says.

Adds Raichura, “We take each animal as an individual. Each animal has a personality just like we do, and when you understand the personality, you can really get to the core of who they are and what makes them tick.”

While the two vets opened their practice in December of 2013 amid increasing popularity in holistic medicine, they had been studying, training and practicing alternative approaches for decades. Mallu has practiced veterinary medicine since 1977 and has studied a variety of disciplines, including traditional Chinese medicine and herbology, acupuncture and energy healing. An ordained Tibetan Buddhist nun, Mallu is also a licensed acupuncturist for both humans and animals.

Raichura has been a practicing veterinarian since 1996 and is a member of the American Veterinary Association and the American Holistic Veterinary Association. She began studying traditional Chinese veterinary medicine a decade ago and now also practices acupuncture, herbal medical, food and massage therapy.

Their office is bright, breezy and cheerful, more like a waiting room for children, which is how most of their clients feel about their pets – members of the family.

“I feel that clients and their pets are interconnected. There have been times when clients are so worried about their animal that they are so emotionally drained. I can see that emotion in them – please fix my animal, what more can I do?” Raichura says.

Operating a holistic practice doesn’t mean the vets don’t practice traditional treatments and surgeries when required, but Mallu and Raichura firmly believe that proper diet, vaccinating when necessary and natural treatments are more beneficial to and can prolong a pet’s life.

“We do x-rays, lab work and surgery when needed like spaying a dog or cat. An animal with a broken bone will get referred to an orthopedic specialist, but we will do the x-rays and splints. We try to do as little surgery as possible, but if we have to, then we have the ability to do that,” Mallu says.

They say it is OK to give a dog table scraps so long as the morsels are meats, vegetables and fruits and that an all-protein diet – no grains – is the best diet option. Grains, they say, can cause inflammation in dogs. Pet owners are better off buying their food from holistic pet stores or big chain stores that have a holistic section.

Before dogs and cats are given regular shots for distemper, a contagious viral disease that can affect the respiratory, gastro and nervous system, the vets recommend titer testing, a simple blood test that measures an animal’s antibodies.

“I do think that there is a tendency to over-vaccinate,” Raichura says.
As for fighting fleas and ticks, Raichura notes that the topical applications are only minimally effective and contain hazardous ingredients. A better option is to use a collar or ointment that contains natural ingredients.

“Skin is your biggest absorbing organ in the body. Imagine putting those chemicals on your body. The packages even say if you get it on your fingers, then wash it off immediately. Now you’re putting the entire contents of that package onto your animal’s skin,” Raichura says.

In the end, it’s all about keeping your pet healthy and happy and from the look of the dogs that frequent their masters’ office, the vets at Holistic Veterinary Healing get it right.