BOOKS: The natural vet’s guide to preventing & treating arthritis in dogs & cats

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2011:

The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing
& Treating Arthritis in Dogs & Cats
by Shawn Messonnier, DVM
New World Library (14 Pamaron Way), Novato, CA 94949), 2011.
218 pages, paperback. $14.95.

I can relate to The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and
Treating Arthritis in Dogs and Cats, by holistic veterinarian Shawn
Messonnier–I’m arthritic myself.

Messonnier begins with causes and symptoms of arthritis,
describing treatments that readers can decipher without having a
dictionary handy. Summaries follow the end of each chapter.
Messonnier discusses at length the use of steroids and non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to address arthritis. The most
commonly prescribed NSAID for pets is Rimadyl. Either the steroidal
or the non-steroidal approach can help, but each has side effects.
If an old dog or cat shows signs of lameness, arthritis
comes to mind, but Messonnier suggests other diseases may be the
cause, such as cancer, soft tissue illnesss, or dislocations.
Radiographs, more commonly known as X-rays, will confirm a
Messonnier explains what to expect from the vet when given an
arthritis diagnosis and what alternative treatments are available,
such as joint manipulation, nutritional supplements, and massage. As
a holistic practitioner, Messonnier relies more on alternative
treatments than traditional medicine.
Messonnier discusses some common sense approaches to pet
health such as practicing weight control and ensuring that animals
get plenty of exercise. That’s good advice for pet owners even for
those without arthritic dogs and cats. A section that rails against
food additives, colors, dyes, and fillers may be scientifically
accurate, but Messonnier’s recommendations are not practical for all
pet keepers. Natural pet foods are costlier than standard brands,
and are not within everyone’s budget. Some “natural” pet products
have also been implicated in outbreaks of bacterial and fungal
disease that the conventional pet food manufacturing process could
have prevented. Traditional pet food manufacturers are catching up
to the best of the “natural” pet food industry by introducing more
nutritious dog and cat foods.
While Messonnier promotes holistic veterinary medicine,
readers should be aware that this approach is still largely
self-defined, self-taught, and lightly regulated. Almost any vet
can claim to be “holistic.” Merely making the claim and eschewing
conventional treatments does not mean a vet actually has unique
expertise. Check credentials, ask questions, and be careful.
–Debra J. White

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