Dr. Khalsa earned her degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, and for the past 20 years has successfully blended sophisticated holistic techniques with traditional veterinary medicine. Author of Dr. Khalsa’s Natural Dog: A Holistic Guide for Healthier Dogs and contributor to Dog Fancy, Dr. Khalsa has become the leading voice on holistic and alternative care for animals.
I-5 Publishing: Thank you, Dr. Khalsa for taking the time to join us this month as we talk about one of your favorite subjects – Natural healthcare for pets. The natural pet industry has grown and changed dramatically over the years. What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in the past five years?
Dr. Khalsa: There has been an enormous increase in healthy pet foods, which is totally great. Pet owners now have so many choices and the ingredients are better quality and more carefully chosen.
When I update my book (Dr. Khalsa’s Natural Dog: A Holistic Guide for Healthier Dogs) I will make sure I include all the new healthy foods that are on the market. Any companies that want to let me know about their products are welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I-5: Do you see the growth in the natural pet food industry as a result of consumer demand and or is it more a result of self-regulation?
Dr. Khalsa: I think consumer demand drives the food industry. Look at what happened with ethoxyquin. Consumers spoke out. They demanded no ethoxyquin and it was removed from pet foods.
Because of allergies in pets, people are looking for wheat free food and novel proteins. It’s great that there is such abundance available for them.
I-5: Where do you see the natural/holistic pet industry in the next five years?
Dr. Khalsa: I write for several magazines and the public wants to learn as much as they can about keeping their pets healthier using a holistic outlook.
They are eager to learn and very willing to go out of their way to obtain healthy food and other products for the dogs and cats in their care. I believe it is virtually unstoppable.
I-5: Have you seen an increase in a particular ailment or disease?
Dr. Khalsa: Cancer and allergies. Cancer now hits about one in two dogs and is the highest cause of death in dogs over two years of age.
I-5: What can pet owners do to help reduce the risks?
Dr. Khalsa: We read about how important diet is to prevent cancer in people and it is the same with dogs and cats.
I-5: Why are some veterinarians still resistant to the idea of holistic medicine?
Dr. Khalsa: That’s an interesting question. I think it is just the personality of the practitioner. I would talk to veterinarians who had no understanding of holistic health but were open to changes because they thought in terms of the best interests for their patients. Certain modalities such as acupuncture and chiropractic have become much more accepted over the past 15 years or so.
Homeopathic remedies are all FDA approved and regulated but many veterinarians cannot wrap their heads around how it works. Today, many veterinary schools offer Holistic Health Clubs for students. I have lectured at several of these and this helps as veterinary students are introduced to the subjects and learn some of the basics. The veterinarians who have been out of school for some time did not have that opportunity and some are just more set in their ways.
I-5: As a holistic practitioner, what has been the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome?
Dr. Khalsa: When I began with holistic medicine, I was one of the few in the field and I became highly educated in quite a number of holistic modalities and so my work was very successful.
I had grateful clients, healthy patients and have so much fun learning many effective techniques. It was bustling and fun and successful and I never thought any hurdles existed.
I-5: What caused you to take the path of holistic medicine?
Dr. Deva Khalsa, VMD: My mother had macular degeneration and there was nothing that conventional medicine could do to help her. So I began researching alternative options in order to help her. I became intrigued with all of the options that holistic (or what we also call complimentary medicine) had for the disease.
I was accepted to medical school before I was accepted to veterinary school. I learned quite a bit about holistic human medicine and when I began veterinary school I always had all that I learned in human holistic medicine in the back of my mind.
After I graduated I went to England, India and Brazil to study veterinary homeopathy with some of the best in the world. I continued studying new techniques throughout my veterinary career.
I-5: Tell us something about your work that would surprise people?
Dr. Khalsa: I never stopped loving being a veterinarian. After 30 years it has never got wearying or old for me. I think that’s because holistic health is evolving with more and more technical equipment and techniques that cure illness. It’s the most fascinating and rewarding journey.
When you have the means to make pets better that are doomed in conventional medicine and it consistently works you have a recipe for an incredible vocation. As one example: Maddie (a Bulldog) was sent home from a veterinary school to die with the worst case of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) they had ever seen.
They had her on a special IV and special injections just to keep her alive and her owners had a $14,000 bill behind them. But they would not give up.
I treated Maddie holistically and after 5 visits she was a totally healthy dog and lived a normal healthy life without IBD. This story is not that unusual.
Honestly, when reading that can you think of a more rewarding, heartwarming, interesting, exciting and fun way to make a living? Because I can’t!
I-5: You recently developed an all-natural supplement for pets. Can you tell us more about that?
Dr. Khalsa: Yes, I’ve developed a very special preventive supplement called Deserving Pets VITAL VITIES.
I decided to do this because too many dogs and cats are getting cancer and many other diseases. I made sure the formula had specific super foods and very particular natural vitamins and minerals that would help prevent or reverse common problems.
When I get e-mails and letters telling me how happy and healthy dogs and cats have become after taking Deserving Pets VITAL VITIES I am overjoyed. The fact that I can do this without an exam or consultation is a win for me, for pet owners and especially for the pets.