Jeff Feinman VMD, CVH — Weston, Connecticut — Call: 203.222.7979
Thank you for your interest in my practice. I offer both preventive care as well as management of chronic diseases. Homeopathic medicine, healthy lifestyle and nutritional counseling is the mainstay of my practice. I emphasize working through symptoms rather than against them (e.g. with ANTI-inflammatories) them. Symptoms are signs that the body gives, clues that enable me to help your pet. I do not generally make use of "routine" vaccines or drugs. In addition, species-appropriate diet and supplementation (when indicated) will help the healing process.
The best time to begin holistic preventive care is when your pet is "healthy" or is a puppy or kitten. In these cases it is usually relatively simple to treat any problems that arise.
However, since we may not start working together until later in life, problems have already arisen (and been suppressed). Although improvement can sometimes be seen quickly in these difficult situations, it can also take months and years of treatment to make significant progress.
A large part of my practice is management of such chronic and degenerative disorders as recurrent ear and skin “infections”, arthritis, allergies, metabolic/endocrine imbalances and cancer. In these cases, a diagnostic workup may be recommended because appropriate test results can sometimes help quantify the disease process.
Ascertaining the degree of structural pathology (if any) will help me determine a prognosis and treatment plan. Length of treatment will depend upon the chronicity and depth of the condition and number of and response to prior suppressions. Most acute situations can be properly resolved over a few days or weeks, whereas lifelong problems can take 1-3 years.
During treatment, we will gradually discontinue (when possible) conventional drugs such as antibiotics and steroids. This will help your pet's body heal naturally.
Using any "anti"-drug (e.g. anti-biotic or anti-inflammatory) during homeopathic treatment is like trying to drive your car with the brakes on. If other symptoms appear during treatment (or if older, previous conditions return) you will be expected to contact me for an appropriate response, rather than use drugs that you may have used before.
If you are like most of us, one of the first things you want to know is what this is going to cost. So, even though helping your pet is the most important thing, I want to address this question right away and as completely as I can.
My hourly rate is $205. Routine wellness visits are typically about 30 minutes in length and cost $102.50, whether in the office, via phone, or through video conferencing.
Initial consultations, including a detailed history and evaluation of any previous records, typically take 1-2 hours. To enable more pet owners to afford this lengthy (and more costly) consultation, the hourly rate for the initial evaluation has been reduced by 25% to $165.00/hour.
All other time spent on your pet's case is based on the regular hourly rate. This includes emergency care and time spent updating on the phone (if longer than a few minutes), corresponding by e-mail, reviewing diagnostic tests done by other veterinarians, etc.
We require that a current credit card be kept on file, and payment is expected at the time services are rendered (we do not bill). We work with all of the pet insurance companies, including Pet Plan and Embrace, which are among those that cover veterinary homeopathic treatment.There is a $25 missed appointment charge if your appointment is not canceled 24 hours in advance. Due to the length of new patient initial evaluations, there is a $50.00 non-refundable deposit that will be applied to your first visit.
Healthy-pet routine care costs the same as going to the conventional veterinary clinic. A complete healthy pet annual consultation usually lasts 20-30 minutes. I cannot emphasize enough how important these wellness visits are for your pet's quality of life and longevity. By maintaining optimal health, we are preventing serious disease later in life (and dramatically reducing future veterinary costs).
Please sign and return the treatment authorization and questionnaire prior to your first appointment.
Fax, mail or bring with you any medical records from your previous veterinarian(s). These should include any specialists with whom you have consulted, as well as emergency visit records.
A "diagnosis" or description of the problem as well and lab results and other diagnostics will be very helpful. Use the following suggestions to help you organize your thoughts prior to your first appointment.
To help with the diagnosis and treatment, please provide an account, in your own words, of your pet's condition and history. Include current illnesses, as well as previous conditions. For example, if you are coming in for evaluation of a metabolic condition, it would be very helpful to know about prior ear infections, allergies, skin growths, etc. Prior conditions treated with drugs or surgery are especially important.
In addition, I need to know specifics about your pet's appetite, what/when/how s/he eats, and if there is or has been diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, discharges etc. Factors such as temperature preferences, sleep patterns, favorite activities, behavior problems and any likes or dislikes are all relevant.
In sum, I would like to know everything about your pet. Please see the current client "Observing Symptoms" article for more help. There are also personality profile examples posted in the homeopathy folder in my forum.
If you would like to do some reading before our appointment, Drs. Don Hamilton ("Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs") and Richard Pitcairn both have written excellent books. The documents at my website will also provide a wealth of information.
I look forward to meeting you and helping to improve your pet's life. Feel free to contact my office or post an "Ask Dr. Jeff" query if you have any questions.
--Dr. Jeff Feinman (bio is here)
Click here for some client reviews.
Environmental toxins. Processed food. Vaccinations. Longer lifespan.
Veterinarians have many theories about why so many cats and dogs today suffer from chronic kidney disease and renal failure. Some implicate life in the modern world with its commercial foods, vaccinations, pollution, and sedentary lifestyle, while others attribute advances in nutritional science and vaccinations to longer life spans in pets, and say diseases like kidney failure and cancer happen naturally in older animals.
The truth is, no validated research proves that any environmental factors cause kidney disease, but many holistic veterinarians feel strongly—based on what they see in their practices--that pets develop kidney disease when they stray too far from the life they were designed to live. In other words, a holistic perspective suggests that a pet’s lifestyle could contribute to kidney disease, and lifestyle alterations, even in the advanced stages of renal failure, might help pets feel better, live longer, and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Of course, chronic disease is a problem for a veterinarian to address. Pet owners and retailers must take their lead from a qualified veterinarian’s guidance. “When you are dealing with a serious illness like chronic renal failure, you need to be working with a veterinarian,” said Dr. Jeff Feinman, VMD, CVH, a certified veterinary homeopath, president of the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (www.theavh.org), and practicing holistic veterinarian in Weston, Connecticut, who also offers consultations through his HomeVet website (www.homevet.com/). “A homeopathic vet can provide remedies to individual cases. But pet owners can support this work with supplements, diet, and lifestyle changes.”
Pet stores can also support these efforts by providing healthy food choices, the right supplements, lifestyle advice, and books on holistic health care that can help give pet owners direction when they face health issues in their pets. Here’s what you should know.
All About the Food
One of the first things any veterinarian—conventional or holistic—will advise for pets with kidney disease is a change in diet. Some vets recommend prescription diets, while others recommend home-cooked or raw diets, but a holistic approach involves stepping back and looking at how a pet eats and lives.
“Pets need exercise, fresh air, sunshine, and food they are genetically adapted to eat,” said V. Smitha, DVM, Ph.D., Research Scientist for Wysong Corporation in Midland, Michigan. “When people and animals live lives and eat foods for which they are not genetically adapted, it is a bane to health. For example, pets may do fine on heat-processed foods for a time, but when the animal’s adaptive reserves are exhausted, degenerative conditions such as chronic renal disease can set in.”
While some pets do well on a prescription food (and some holistically oriented pet food companies also make prescription foods), not every pet will eat the prescription food the vet recommends.
“The prescription diet for pets willing to eat them are just fine, but many times, the pets refuse to eat them after a couple of days and the owner starts giving them anything at all, no matter how high-fat and unhealthy, just to get them to eat,” said pet nutritionist Susan Davis, CCN, of Dana Point, California, who works with a holistic vet to design nutritionally sound diets for pets and advises people about managing chronic renal failure and other diseases holistically through her website Ask Ariel (www.askariel.com).
Dr. Feinman suggests pet owners include fresh, human-quality foods for pets like chicken, beef, and fish. “Raw food is great because of the natural enzymes but it isn’t as palatable as lightly cooked meat, which might appeal more to a very ill pet,” said Dr. Feinman. Books on feeding pets home-cooked diets can help pet owners formulate the right combination of nutrients. Pet owners might also try commercial frozen raw diets, which are pre-formulated to be complete and balanced. “There are many levels of quality in food for pets, from starvation all the way up to fresh hunted prey. If you can move your pet’s diet quality up on the scale, you will be helping your pet to handle the disease better,” said Dr. Feinman.
Dr. Smitha believes that chronic renal failure is largely a result of feeding pets as we would never feed ourselves. “A total revision in pet feeding is in order for dealing with chronic renal disease and like conditions, or they will continue or increase,” said Dr. Smitha. “The manufacturer can help educate the retailer about how to feed pets in the best way.”
While pet owners should consult a homeopathic or other qualified holistic veterinarian if they are interested in individually formulated homeopathic or herbal remedies, a few companies make kidney-care and urinary-support herbal, nutraceutical, or homeopathic formulas pet owners can give to their pets at home. These formulas can help when pets show early signs of kidney problems such as frequent urinary tract problems, and may also support the body in later stages of kidney disease.
Dr. Smitha recommends enzyme supplements, probiotics, and essential fatty acids, as well as taurine, which the kidneys contain and which plays an important role in kidney health. Herbal formulas may help maximize kidney function, including those containing diuretics like carrot, dandelion, and sesame seed; antioxidants like blueberries and lactoferrin; anti-inflammatories like rosemary and sage extracts, wheat grass, and barley grass; anti-microbials like garlic and uva ursi to help prevent secondary bacterial complications; desiccated sea plankton with electrolytes to help kidneys function better; and chlorella which could speed healing of damaged kidney tissue.
“The solution, however, is not include or exclude a specific ingredient or product,” emphasized Dr. Smitha. “Buzzwords and nutritional lore pervade the pet food and supplement industry. For any product you offer, examine each company’s credentials and educate yourselves about what the food or supplement contains. The pet store owner is in the perfect position to cut through the hype,” said Dr. Smitha. “With knowledge, you can help restore sanity to the market, and genuine health to pets.”
“As a holistic vet, I always have to emphasize that the very best way to treat kidney disease is to prevent it,” said Dr. Feinman. While pet owners can’t always tell the future or prevent diseases to which pets are genetically predisposed, certain basic practices and healthy habits might help ward of kidney problems in the future.
“Kidney problems are a sign of a serious, chronic imbalance and typically this has been a low-grade imbalance in the pet for years before the pet owner notices something is really wrong,” said Dr. Feinman. “There is good evidence that pets with lower urinary tract infections and other urinary problems might be predisposed to this kind of imbalance, and pet owners can take steps to correct the imbalance before it ever develops into full-blown kidney disease.”
Cats and dogs with any sign of kidney issues may benefit from a better food, targeted supplements, moderate exercise, and a low-stress lifestyle before kidney disease ever develops. Dr. Smitha urges retailers to educate themselves about the foods, supplements, and lifestyle issues that can really make a difference both in preventing and in managing chronic renal disease. “Education is the key,” said Dr. Smitha. “People don’t always know what is best for their pets, and store owners have a responsibility when people come to them for guidance. We believe ‘business as usual’ caused this disease in the first place, but the retailer with the right knowledge and information for customers can help turn that around by providing an array of scientifically-based natural foods, well-researched supplements, resources, and understanding.”
“We used to think kidney disease was a cause for euthanasia, but now we know that pets with kidney disease can live happily, feeling good, sometimes for years with the right management,” said Davis. When pet stores can contribute to that management by providing helpful products, services, and information, clients will feel supported in a meaningful way.
This allows these cells to escape the normal regulatory signals leading to uncontrolled cell growth. While most auto-immune diseases represent a failure of the healing system from an over-active immune system, cancer represents the extreme opposite, whereby the immune system is hypoactive (at least in regard to the tumor). On the other hand, both chronic immune diseases and cancer probably represent outcomes from the failure of the healing system brought about by living within a polluted environment, coupled with the genetic make-up of the dog.
While we are beginning to unravel the complex biochemistry of cancer development and have begun to understand how DNA is damaged and repaired, we still have a long way to go before the cure for cancer will be found. Spontaneous healing of cancer has been documented many times in human beings and animals, suggesting that a cure is possible. On the other hand, there is a great deal of information about the potential for preventing many forms of cancer. Most of these techniques involve the use of diet and dietary supplements. We can not control the air we breath, unless we do this as a whole. Using alternative means of transportation, car-pooling and clean energy production are good for the environment and for those living in it. It does pay to fool Mother Nature, she will get even in the end. We can, however, control the food our pets eat and the water they drink; thereby, reducing their pollution load. We can provide our pets with anti-oxidants and bioflavonoids, compounds which help protect DNA and the healing system. We can give them sufficient fiber in there diets to support digestion and protect the gi tract from cellular damage.
Treatment of cancer with traditional Western medicine involves surgery (to remove or de-bulk the tumor mass), ionizing radiation (to expose the tumor to lethal doses radiation, minimizing radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue), and chemotherapy (to poison the rapidly growing cancer cells without poisoning the rest of the body). One or all of these methods may be employed in a given patient in an attempt to delay or prevent further cancer growth. On average, the success of Western approaches to cancer provides 1 to 18 months of relief from the cancer. While longer survival times are seen with certain forms of cancer, the long term prognosis for even the best forms of "systemic" cancer is poor to grave. The best chance for a good prognosis is for localized cancer (particularly benign lesions) which can be removed completely with surgery. When surgical removal of the cancer is not possible, or when the cancer has already spread to other organs (metastasized), control of the tumor may not be possible by conventional means and the owner must make difficult choices about the continued care of their pet. Some of these choices are very expensive. Traditional Western diagnostic methods have advanced dramatically in the last few years and provide the best chance to discover the natural of the tumor and to predict its clinical course. Advanced imaging techniques like diagnostic ultrasound, computer-assisted tomography (CAT scans) and magnetic resonance image (MRI scans) have vastly improve tumor diagnosis. Fine-needle aspirates or "true-cut" biopsies of tumors (sometimes performed in conjunction with an imaging technique) can provide cytological confirmation or histological diagnosis of the tumor type, leading to better therapeutic recommendations.
Any illness, be it cancer or a benign disease, will have an impact on the patient's metabolism. During disease, there are many changes in the way the body uses proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It is important to realize that, for the most part, these are adaptations that are geared toward survival. In effect, the body is prioritizing its available nutrients for purposes like wound healing and maintaining the immune system. Sometimes, these metabolic changes can become exaggerated or prolonged to the point that they are harmful rather than beneficial to the patient. Significant weight loss and muscle wasting can occur rapidly and can be difficult or even impossible to reverse.
NB-When your pet has cancer it is especially critical to feed a fresh food diet. S/he needs all of the nutrients and vitality of real food. Avoid carbohydrates as they are the favorite nutrient of cancer cells. NO KIBBLE! Fats and protein is most important. Palatability of a raw meat diet can be increased by lightly searing the meats and adding immune-enhancing spices like cayenne and tumeric (if your pet likes and can tolerate them). Fish oils, antioxidants, etc. are all helpful. These are the supplements that I use for cancer patients in my practice: --Dr. Jeff
Unfortunately, when most people hear the term "feeding tube", they tend to panic - feeling like this is the end of the road for their cat. However, feeding tubes should not necessarily be viewed as a doom and gloom 'last ditch effort' or as a 'heroic measure'.
I often hear people say "oh, I would never put my cat through that!" Unfortunately, these folks are not recognizing the tremendous value of feeding tubes to support ill patients while they heal from a temporary illness or injury. Most cats are not bothered by the tubes at all! The human is the one who is bothered by it as the cat just goes about its daily routine.
Anyone who has ever tried to syringe-feed an ill cat for very long recognizes the stress that is involved for both the cat and the human. Not only is it very time-consuming, but the critical issue is that it is often very difficult to meet the caloric and hydration (water) needs of the cat with this method.
Feeding tubes are not right for every situation and case selection requires thoughtful consideration - keeping the patient's best interest in mind - not the human's. For cats that are suffering from a chronic, terminal illness such as renal failure or cancer, it is my feeling that a feeding tube is not necessarily appropriate to use in these cases. It is a matter of personal choice to prolong the inevitable in our pets and caregivers need to think long and hard before they put a feeding tube in a patient with a terminal illness when euthanasia may be a much more humane and loving decision to make.