Holistic Medicine is for Animals Too
Dr. Henry Kostecki’s approach to animal care may come as a surprise to those accustomed to conventional medicine.
A horrified pet owner once thought the local veterinarian was strangling her kitten.
“I was giving it a chiropractic adjustment,” laughed Kostecki. “The cat had been walking sideways like a crab – after a one-time adjustment it never did it again. The cat was happy.”
Kostecki attributes the success of his 26-year veterinary practice to his holistic approach – one which includes acupuncture, aquapuncture, massage, homeopathy, Chinese medicine, nutritional counseling and chiropractic care. A jar of Super Blue Green Algae For Animals sits on the counter next to his exam table.
“Either you love me or you hate me,” he said. “Either you’re holistic or you’re not.”
Kostecki has treated Siberian tigers with homeopathic remedies and has given spinal adjustments to horses.
“I do use some mainstream pharmaceutical medicine – that was all we learned in vet school. But it didn’t take long to learn that it wasn’t the only approach,” he said. “I look for more effectiveness in treatment with minimal impact – it makes so much sense.”
Although the philosophy of integrative medicine has grown in popularity over the past two decades, Kostecki says there are still only 400 members of the American Veterinary Holistic Medical Association nationwide. That’s why he says clients from hundreds of miles away continue to seek his advice.
“I was told by eye specialists that my dog would be blind in six months due to retinal degeneration,” said Luisa Hyatt, who called Kostecki’s office Friday from Santa Barbara. “Antibiotics overloaded his system when he was a puppy. Everyone else said it couldn’t be done, but Dr. Kostecki sent me herbal remedies that have stopped the deterioration. All I can say is it saved her.”
Kostecki says there is a lot he wasn’t taught in veterinary school.
“If you browse through a veterinary desk reference it’s as though it’s published by pharmaceutical drug companies,” he said. “There are so many adverse effects to drugs – dizziness, sterility and rashes are common, but those are mild. I also see liver failure and anemia.”
Nutritional counseling for pet owners is the cornerstone of Kostecki’s practice. Homemade diets are essential, he said, because unlike canned dog food, meals made with ingredients like raw or slightly cooked chicken, beef and fish, as well as vegetables, yogurt, whole grains, and vegetable oil are “enzymatically alive,” fostering effective digestion.
“Change a pet’s diet and you can change the fundamental course of many diseases,” he said. “Particularly arthritis.”
Asserting that many veterinarians are conditioned to jump on the vaccine bandwagon, Kostecki does not advise vaccinating dogs beyond puppyhood.
Vaccinating pets is a big moneymaker, he said, despite research conducted in the early 90s that Kostecki says proves much of it unnecessary. Kostecki does, however, vaccinate for rabies, distemper and parvo – but never on the same day.
“Pets do need some immunity, but they don’t need to be given six at a time. It never happens in nature to be infected with six viruses at the same time,” he said. “Many animals become ill from vaccines. Ninety percent of my clientele who live in other areas are people with animals suffering from vaccine-disease or vaccinosis.”
Few animals are in perfect health today, said Kostecki, due to ailments passed down through generations as a result of vaccinosis and poor diet.
The mental well-being of a pet is frequently overlooked as well, said Kostecki. “Don’t overcrowd your pets – it can cause a great deal of social stress which leads to what owners perceive as misbehavior,” he said. “They need socialization and enormous amounts of exercise. Spay your animals, think about what goes into their mouths and simulate the wild as much as possible – that’s the best way.”
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