(Contributed by Lori Whitwam)
In recent years, it seems as if veterinary practices are springing up all over the place. How does one practice distinguish itself from another, and how does a pet owner select the one that best suits their needs?
For the past several decades, the standards of veterinary practice remained largely unchanged. We were all taught that annual vaccinations and "complete and balanced" processed food in a bag was the key to health and long lives for our pets. Yet pets have chronic illnesses, cancer, immune system problems, obesity, and other health problems in higher numbers than ever before. What's wrong with this picture?
Central Bird & Animal Hospital was founded by two veterinarians, Dr. Jessica Levy and Dr. Jina Andrews, who believed that we could do better for our pets. Not only could we do better, we had to do better. Our doctors and staff reach beyond those standards that we've been living with all these years. They truly believe in forming a partnership with people and their pets, and empowering owners through information and education to improve their pets' quality of life and their longevity.
We do not promote automatic annual vaccinations. Yes, young animals should receive the protection that their immature immune systems need. Beyond that, however, we believe in evaluating a pet's overall wellness, risk factors, previous vaccine history, legal requirements, and their owners' wishes before determining which vaccines are necessary for that pet. People are often shocked when our doctors decline to vaccinate their pet. We cannot, though, in good conscience, further destabilize a struggling immune system with the artificial jolt of a vaccine.
Does this mean you don't have to take Buddy or Mittens to the veterinarian? Quite the opposite. We promote "Twice for Life," the term for twice a year wellness exams. There are some who think this is excessive, yet we all know that we should visit our own doctors for an annual exam. Pets' lives are shorter than ours, though, and therefore take place in a more compressed timeframe. Six months in a pet's life can equal several years in our own. Regular exams, with or without vaccinations, can and do catch early signs of illness, allowing us to take steps to restore health or minimize complications, adding both quality and length to our pets' lives.
When asked, most owners will say, "Buddy is fine. He doesn't have any health problems." But our veterinarians might notice that the dry, flaky skin and hot spots are a sign of a dietary intolerance or some systemic problem. They can palpate the abdomen and feel signs of problems with the internal organs. They might notice a pattern of hair loss or an unusual lump that indicates an issue that, if caught early, can be managed through diet and supplements, rather than waiting until the condition progresses and presents a true danger to the animal. A trained veterinarian can manipulate joints and feel the signs of early joint disease. And as always, our doctors work to continually expand their skills and knowledge to enable them to provide the most progressive care possible.
Our doctors believe that proper nutrition is the cornerstone to our pets' health. Dogs and cats (or any pet, for that matter) are not made to eat highly processed, nutrient-depleted, carbohydrate-rich food from a bag. But since that is a reality for most pet owners, they and their staff have put a lot of time into researching what makes a quality pet food, so as to be better able to guide the clients that come to the clinic seeking such information. Proper whole-food supplements and the addition of as much raw food as possible are other key points that they discuss with clients each and every day.
CBAH strives to be the center for holistic health in the Midwest. This not only can be achieved, but it will be. When you have doctors and a skilled team who deeply believe that this is the key to helping every pet enjoy a long, happy life, there truly is no other possible outcome. The world is full of clinics that will continue to treat a pet's chronic ear infections, dispensing medication repeatedly, or treating urinary tract infections time after time with antibiotics. Our doctors certainly will do that when needed, but they go the extra mile. They will present all the options to the client, and share their knowledge about not only how to clear up the current health problem, but to work toward improving the animal's overall wellness so that the problem will not recur.
That is different. It is special. It is unique. And we are very proud to be a part of it.