When veterinarian Dr Manuela Trueby arrived in Australia over 20 years ago, she was surprised to find that holistic therapies for pets were almost non-existent. In her home country of Germany, even back then, it was common practice for vets to be trained in complementary medicine.
“In Germany, one in three vets also use alternative therapies,” she says. “I started training in homeopathy at university when I was studying veterinary science.”
Twenty years on, Dr Trueby’s well-established veterinary practice in Sydney is still one of the few offering both conventional veterinary medicine and holistic therapies. Among the natural treatments on offer are acupuncture, homeopathy, nutrition therapy and vitamin supplements.
“Three-quarters of my clients just want conventional treatment, which I’m happy to do,” says Dr Trueby.
“But then I have one-quarter of clients who come from far away, who’ve tried everything else, who specifically want holistic therapies.
“Often I’ll use a combination of things. For example, someone might come to me with an animal that has tick paralysis and they’ll want me to use homeopathy. I’ll say no, first we use the anti-tick serum but we can use homeopathy on top. I believe very much in a balanced approach.”
While homeopathy has its critics, Dr Trueby has had great results using the treatment in her practice over the past two decades – helping with everything from skin conditions to improving quality of life for terminally ill animals.
“I had one case – a cat, who was just adored by its family. This cat had a liver tumour and was given three weeks to live. So we looked at the nutrition, the supplements and homeopathy. This pussycat lived happily for two more years. The client was so grateful. I don’t always have a miracle but I have cases like that.”
Her decision to use homeopathy or any other natural treatment is based on the animal’s condition and also the owner’s wishes.
“If the animal is brought to me early, let’s say with early kidney failure or an early heart condition, then I’ll often just do the holistic side. We monitor it carefully and if it goes downhill, then we add the drugs. If the animal is already compromised or in pain, I’ll happily use the drugs, or a combination, to achieve the best outcome.”
Finding a practitioner
Finding a vet who is also trained in natural therapies is not as easy as you’d think. While natural therapies for humans have exploded in recent years, the trend has been slower to take off among Aussie vets.
The problem, says Dr Trueby, is the cynicism about natural therapies in the veterinary and medical world, and the lack of referrals from regular vets to those who are qualified in holistic pet therapies.
“People are generally quite open to the idea of natural therapies but they don’t realise it is available for their pets. And when they ask their vet, most vets say it’s all rubbish – they don’t refer,” she says.
“I find it very sad because people often end up going to holistic practitioners who mainly treat people, but they’re not trained to treat animals. So that goes pear-shaped and gives natural therapies a bad name.”
Dr Trueby advises seeking out a trained vet who’s also qualified in holistic therapies – both qualifications are necessary to give the best treatment.
Dr Manuela Trueby offers holistic pet therapies at the Balmain Village Veterinary Clinic in Sydney. Visit www.balmainvillagevet.com.au for more information.
TOP TIP! The highest qualifications available for veterinary homeopaths are a Certificate from the International Association for Veterinary Homeopathy (look for the letters IAVH after their name) or to be awarded Veterinary Member of the Faculty of Homeopathy (VetMFHom).
Did you know…
The Queen has her corgies treated with homeopathy! “In the UK, pet homeopathy’s very big,” says Dr Trueby.
Check out these local organisations to find qualified holistic vets and good-quality information.
Australian Veterinary Acupuncture Group
In Australia, more than 300 vets have been trained to international standards set by the International
Veterinary Acupuncture Society
Certified vets are entitled to use the letters CVA (Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist). Visit www.acuvet.com.au to find a practitioner near you.
Australian Holistic Veterinarians
Members of this group are vets who use one or more alternative therapies in combination with conventional veterinary medicine. Visit www.ahv.com.au
Therapy Organisation Representing qualified natural animal therapists across a range of disciplines.