Listen as Dr. Karen Becker talks with Dr. Mercola about why he launched MercolaHealthyPets.com, a website designed for pet owners who want to take the best possible care of their beloved companion animals.
In this 2-part video series, Dr. Becker and Dr. Mercola share their views on the pitfalls of traditional veterinary medicine, and how MercolaHealthyPets.com can help animal lovers make the right choices for the health and longevity of their pets.
I really enjoyed chatting with Dr. Mercola about what motivated him to launch MercolaHealthyPets.com as a companion site to his massively successful Mercola.com site.
We also talked about the current state of traditional veterinary medicine and the vision we share to help pet parents and other lovers of fur, feathers and fins make informed, empowered decisions in the best interests of the animals that are a vital part of their lives.
Following are the highlights of my interview with Dr. Mercola.
The Genesis of MercolaHealthyPets.com
Dr. Mercola explained the overall goal of Mercola.com is to address significant healthcare needs, and so it was a natural step toward that objective to cross over into the world of pets.
Pets and people have similar health problems, but not so similar that information geared toward humans can be directly applied to their pets.
Dr. Mercola pointed out that in looking for an expert for the pet site, it was important to find a veterinary professional who embraced the mission of the main site, which is to provide health care alternatives to the standard medical model of drugs and surgery.
As it turns out, my focus on species-appropriate nutrition for pets as the primary foundation for good health and longevity was a natural fit for Dr. Mercola’s focus on Nutritional Typing for optimal health in humans.
Dr. Mercola explained it was also vitally important to find someone for the pet site who can communicate well, because medical jargon and health care concepts are often difficult to put across in a clear, understandable manner. One of the reasons the Mercola.com site is so successful is that it breaks down complex topics into information people can easily understand and apply in their own lives.
In the end, Dr. Mercola felt I would be a good fit for MercolaHealthyPets.com because I have training in both traditional and alternative medicine, my approach to pet healthcare is proactive rather than reactive, and I’m able to communicate medical concepts in an informal, straightforward, easy-to-understand manner.
I don’t know about all that – I just know I’m honored and delighted to be a part of the success we’re achieving at MercolaHealthyPets.com!
Changing Traditional Thinking about Pet Care
As Dr. Mercola and I discussed, pets suffer from many of the same degenerative diseases people suffer from, including
- Joint problems
- Dietary issues
- Autoimmune disorders
- Organ degeneration
Interestingly, as people have become more knowledgeable about their own health and empowered to make better decisions for themselves and their families, better care of the pets in their lives has lagged behind.
It seems the wisdom and passion people have gained for the health of their human family members hasn’t transferred to the companion animals in their lives. Since the goal of Mercola.com is to help people take control of the health of their entire family, their pets should be included as part of that family.
Pets are extremely important to many people, and in fact, lots of pet owners have closer companionship with their pets than they do with the other humans in their lives.
As Dr. Mercola discussed during our interview, he took over the care of an older cocker spaniel that had belonged to his parents – he had her for just a few years before she died of cancer. He feels, looking back, that he contributed to her accelerated aging and poor condition by the diet she was fed.
This was during the early 1990’s, before the doctor had begun his own journey toward natural health and wellness. Like the vast majority of pet owners, he didn’t realize the value of a raw diet for his dog, and instead fed her dry processed stuff for the five years he had her, fully confident he was providing her a healthy diet.
The goal of both Mercola.com and MercolaHealthyPets.com is to show people it’s really not that difficult to apply good health principles, like moving away from processed food to wholesome, balanced nutrition for every member of the family, including companion animals.
Dr. Mercola feels, and I agree, that pet owners are interested in investing the time and energy to make sure their animals have good health and quality of life.
The Scourge of Overvaccination in Veterinary Medicine
As holistically-oriented veterinarian practices like mine work to help clients make better health-related choices for their animals, many pet owners who’ve been following the drugs-and-surgery advice of conventionally trained vets are realizing they’ve been mislead.
Just as the traditional medical community is rife with misinformation, flagrant deception and abuse, veterinary medicine is as well.
What I see happening is that educated pet owners are losing trust in allopathic veterinary doctors. Not a surprising result when a client realizes their vet has been recommending a poor quality food and too many vaccines, year in and year out.
Most humans are only vaccinated during childhood, with one exception, as Dr. Mercola pointed out -- flu vaccines. The traditional medical establishment outrageously encourages everyone to have an annual flu vaccine.
In the veterinary community, doctors put an enormous amount of pressure on pet owners to get nine to twelve vaccines every single year. Pet parents are made to feel they’re not caring properly for their pets if they don’t sign up for yearly re-vaccinations for parvo, distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, lepto, corona, lyme, bordetella and rabies.
And I’m not talking about puppy or kitten booster shots here, but a re-vaccination for all these diseases every year for a pet’s entire life. It’s preposterous and dangerous medicine.
Not only are all these re-vaccinations recommended, but they’re typically all blended together and given in a single injection, which includes an adjuvant. Vaccine adjuvants are a bit like a turbo charger on a car’s engine – they’re designed to send the immune system into overdrive. The combination of the vaccines and the adjuvants is contributing to many of the degenerative diseases we’re seeing in companion animals these days.
As Dr. Mercola points out, in the case of both people and pets, it’s the system of medicine that perpetuates the myth that yearly re-vaccinations are necessary.
The drug manufacturers, for obvious reasons, have the biggest incentive to perpetuate the practice of re-vaccinations. These companies know how to market their products, and they know how to motivate veterinarians to aggressively sell them as well.
Unfortunately, neither the drug manufacturers nor many veterinarians have a similar motivation to review all the research and evidence that points very clearly to the dangers associated with yearly vaccination programs.
Vaccines are the bread-and-butter of many veterinary practices. They do, however, have one upside -- they encourage pet owners to bring their animals in for annual wellness checks.
It’s a twisted approach to pet healthcare, and begins with a major deception. Pet owners are led to believe their pet’s protection against every disease they’ve been vaccinated for will magically expire on a set day each year. People trust their veterinarians and dutifully bring their beloved pets in to be shot full of vaccines for diseases the animal has very likely been immune to since he was a year old and finished his full set of puppy or kitten shots.
From One Extreme to the Other
As Dr. Mercola and I discussed, one of the drawbacks for pet owners who educate themselves about better healthcare for their animals is once they realize they’ve been deceived by the veterinary community, they’re upset.
They begin to view trust in their veterinarian as a danger to their pet’s health.
This is perhaps the most frustrating aspect for me as a vet. Clients thought they were making the best possible decisions about pet care by listening to their veterinarian’s advice, only to discover their dearly loved animal could become ill or even die thanks to the misinformation they’ve received.
What I see happening more and more is people throwing in the towel – deciding not to go to the vet at all unless it’s a life-threatening emergency. So they go from annual visits to no visits – from one extreme to the other, which is not a good way to stay on top of a pet’s health status.
Not seeing a veterinarian until a crisis or problem arises isn’t being ‘holistic,’ it’s being neglectful. Having people tell me, “I didn’t seek medical care because I’m holistic” is the most frustrating comment to hear as a proactive practitioner.
No annual wellness visits mean no dental evaluation. No checking to see that the heart is strong and the lungs are clear, that kidney and liver function is optimal and that the pet is heartworm negative and parasite free. No checking for cancerous lumps, bumps, or skin problems. Just as is the case with people, pets need wellness checkups in order to catch health problems or lifestyle obstacles before they become serious.
By the time your pet’s body gives you symptoms, there’s a problem you’ve probably waited too long to address.
These well-intentioned people are inadvertently becoming reactive caregivers to their pets, something they would never do for their own healthcare. What they need to do is to partner with a vet that understands these issues and have their pet’s overall health evaluated regularly by someone they trust.
Proactive Healthcare is Gaining Momentum
Another thing both Dr. Mercola and I find frustrating about allopathic veterinary medicine is that it’s reactive, not proactive. Conventionally trained veterinarians wait for something to go wrong so they can treat it, rather than helping pet owners keep their animals well.
More holistically oriented vets are moving to the practice of proactive medicine. They are encouraging pet owners to come in at least annually for a wellness check to identify lifestyle obstacles that might be affecting their pet’s health. Annual visits are a good thing – they just should not be packaged with deleterious practices like yearly re-vaccinations.
Regularly reviewing your pet’s diet, supplement protocol and exercise habits with your wellness coach ensures you are meeting your pet’s dynamic healthcare needs. My patients’ wellness and nutritional goals change yearly and over the age of eight can require fine tuning every four to six months, depending on their vitality.
What we do at MercolaHealthyPets.com is empower pet owners to do at-home physical exams on their animals and identify lifestyle issues before disease has a chance to set in. Bringing any changes or new findings to the attention of your wellness practitioner allows these issues to be addressed immediately, before your pet exhibits symptoms of a deep-seated issue.
We also want to help pet owners find a wellness or proactive practitioner they can partner with to help create a healthy lifestyle for their pet. It’s not necessary for pet owners to have all the answers – you just need to find a pet wellness coach. It might be a holistic veterinarian, a pet nutritionist or an animal chiropractor who will partner with you to make wise healthcare decisions for your pet.
Dr. Mercola made the point that while it’s easy to understand the frustration pet owners have with the traditional model of veterinary medicine, they must keep in mind that pets age much faster than their owners do – as much as 200, 400, even 500 percent in some cases.
Every year a pet owner neglects looking after an animal’s immune health, musculoskeletal balance or internal organ function is like a person waiting five years between doctor visits. Obviously, to be optimally healthy, it’s not a good idea for people or their pets to go long periods without wellness visits to the integrative doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist or nutritionist.
Dr. Mercola and I then discussed how pet owners can find healthcare partners in their communities. The best strategy for pet owners who want to locate wellness practitioners who will approach the health and well-being of their animals differently from the traditional, allopathic veterinary community is to visit the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association website.
You can search by state for holistic veterinary practitioners, and if there isn’t a suitable vet in the local area, there are many who also do phone consultations with remote clients. I do phone consults myself with clients across the country and internationally who don’t have access to holistic, homeopathic or integrative veterinary care.
My suggestion is to visit the AHVMA website, and from there visit the websites of holistic vets in your area. Or you can call a few veterinarians on the list to ask questions about their practice philosophy or about whether they do phone consultations, or both.
Thank You, Dr. Mercola
I want to thank Dr. Mercola for taking a few minutes to talk with me today, and for his vision in launching the MercolaHealthyPets.com website.
My commitment to the doctor and to visitors to MercolaHealthyPets.com is to insure it continues to grow as a one-stop resource on the web for pet owners looking for information that will help them prevent disease and nurture healthy, thriving pets.