Our Philosophy

“Prevention is the key to a long and healthy life.”

At Clayton and Churchtown Veterinary Associates, we integrate conventional therapy (when appropriate) with alternative therapies that may include chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, homeopathy, nutritional therapy and Chinese or Western herbal therapies. When possible, our approach is to minimize overuse of conventional medications if appropriate. While each pet is different, the following general approach will apply to most pets.

Feeding the proper diet is the foundation upon which any integrative pet care program begins. Simply put, your pet is what he/she eats. Minimizing harmful by-products and chemicals is essential. We encourage you to try more natural diets for your pets, including home cooked meals or raw. We can work with your individual animal to formulate recipes that will work for his or her lifestyle, breed, existing health problems and personality. Remember, if a food is good for you, it is probably good for your pet. If a food is bad for you, or is “junk food,” the same applies to your pet. Chocolate is particularly harmful to your pet, as it can be toxic in fairly small amounts. Ask us for a list of recommended diets and where they can be purchased. Avoid diets with wheat, wheat or rice gluten, corn, soy, food dyes, bone meal and chemical preservatives.

Minimize Vaccines:
Recently, proof of vaccine-related tumors has been demonstrated in cats, particularly in association with the rabies and feline leukemia vaccines. Immune system dysfunction has been shown to be related to vaccination in both dogs and cats. While we recommend vaccinating pets at risk for disease, we also believe in using vaccines responsibly. All puppies and kittens should receive their initial vaccinations and boosters twelve months later. We also recommend annual Lyme disease vaccinations for dogs with high tick exposure, as we live in an area with a very high incidence of disease. For older animals that are not vaccinated annually, we recommend the core vaccines (distemper, hepatitis, parvo) every three years. If you prefer not to vaccinate your pet, an annual blood antibody test called a titer test can be run to determine if and when your pet might need vaccination. If the titer is low, your pet will need a vaccination. If the titer is normal, no vaccination is needed. Rabies vaccination is a different case and vaccination schedules are based upon state law. Indoor cats need minimal vaccination after their initial kitten and one year series, but should have titers run periodically to check their antibody level.

Minimize Toxins:
Monthly heartworm preventative is important. We have not found any proven natural preventatives. We prefer Sentinel for prevention, as this product has fewer allergic reactions and a broader spectrum of coverage. We prefer to avoid using chemical therapy for fleas and ticks unless necessary. Unfortunately, ticks are found in our area almost year-round and many are carriers of Lyme disease. Fleas are found from about June through November, depending on when the cold weather sets in.

Know What is Normal for Your Pet:
We recommend annual lab work to establish a normal baseline for your pet. Remember that every year of your pet’s life equals about seven years in your life, so aging changes occur more quickly. Once your pet reaches seven years of age (five in the larger breeds,) your pet is considered geriatric. At that point, we recommend wellness checkups twice a year, with lab work performed at each visit. This will help ensure that problems are picked up early and can hopefully be dealt with before something has become a life-threatening problem. An EKG and chest and abdominal x-rays are recommended at least every other year once your pet is geriatric. Hip, spine, and joint x-rays can also be taken to look for early degenerative joint disease. Dental scaling and polishing will be recommended as needed, generally every twelve to eighteen months.

For more information about our practice’s philosophy, don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be more than happy to discuss your pet’s health!