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Holistic Vets for New Age Pets

August 13, 1987

Acupuncture for your Afghan? Herbal remedies for your gerbil? An increasing number of human beings believe they aren't the only ones who can benefit from holistic medicine. At more and more animal hospitals throughout Los Angeles, veterinarians are treating ailing animals with non-traditional forms of health care.

"It's becoming integrated into general practice," says veterinarian John Limehouse, who runs the Holistic Animal Clinic in North Hollywood.

Limehouse offers acupuncture, homeopathy, nutritional counseling, vitamin and mineral supplements and herb therapy, in addition to conventional veterinary care. But at least 95% of his clients want holistic treatment for their pets, he says.

Although the idea of holistic healing took widespread root in the 1960s, spurred by New Age ideas and a fascination with Far Eastern healing arts, it is only within recent years that people have applied those tenets to animal care. After all, some animal lovers reason, why not give Fido the same natural care they prefer themselves?

Limehouse, who has been in practice since 1966 and has been registered as an acupuncturist since 1979, says business is booming.

"We're booked up two weeks in advance," he says happily.

In Burbank, veterinarian Shelly Altman offers acupuncture along with flea baths and more traditional treatments.

Although the American Veterinary Medical Assn. considers acupuncture an experimental treatment, an AVMA group studying the issue says the procedure may provide an alternative to traditional methods, a spokesman said. A visit to the vet for acupuncture treatment costs between $30 and $50.

Holistic vets say most patients come through word-of-mouth or referrals. The vets often combine therapy such as acupuncture or homeopathy with antibiotics or surgery.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with practicing conventional medicine . . . but I would like to offer alternatives," Limehouse says.

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