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INTERVIEWS

 

 Cherrybrook Premium Pet Supplies

Are you interested in discovering the latest facts and information about well known people or celebrities and how they either work or share their lives with dogs and other pets? Why not browse through our up-to-date collection of some of the most interesting people we have had the pleasure of being able to interview.

Kate Mornement, Animal Behaviourist

Charlotte Reeves, Pet Photographer

Interview

 

Dr Barbara Fougere has authored two books on natural therapies for animals and a text book on herbal medicine. Dr Fougere lectures regularly in Australia and overseas on nutrition, herbal and holistic medicine and is passionate about bringing animals to their best state of health.

Dr Fougere thinks she has the best job in the world working with animals every day. Dr Fougere and a team of veterinarians practice conventional veterinary medicine along with natural medicine and therapies (All Natural Vet Care). 

 

An inaugural recipient of the AVA Community Service Award for her role in rehoming thousands of dogs and cats through the programs and websites Dr Fougere developed in Australia.

 

Dr Fougere actively participates in industry related associations and committees of which Barbara is the current Australian representative for the House of Delegates (IVAS) to just name one of many.

 

You can hear Dr Fougere live on air at www.pettalkradio.com.au.

 

Now to our questions:

Q - Natural medicine and therapies for pets combined with conventional veterinary medicine is a great concept, what made you decide to create this holistic approach to pet care?

Natural medicine existed before conventional medicine or surgery and drugs, so modern medicine is an evolution of traditional ways of medicine. Modern veterinary medicine offers many life saving advantages over natural medicine, however in focusing on drugs and surgery we have forgotten some of the strengths of natural medicine and a more natural approach to health care. Ideally we can benefit from the strengths of both approaches and integrate them in a holistic way. I decided on this approach because I had received acupuncture which made a huge difference to my own health, and studied an elective in complementary medicine at vet school in 1986 - I was hooked. When I first graduated I quickly realised that conventional medicine had limitations and I was frustrated that I couldn’t always help my patients to recover their health. So I set myself on a course of study and discovery and have found that combining the two approaches means we can help many more patients in a gentle, wellness enhancing way - natural medicine really does complement conventional veterinary medicine, so much so, that I believe many natural medicines should be a part of mainstream veterinary medicine. Indeed, the roots of veterinary medicine, where it all started, was in plant based medicines. They were the drugs of yesteryear. To me, natural medicine provides me with more tools in my toolbox to be able to not only treat disease, but to restore health in my patients; a state of wellness and balance.

Q - Do you find that people in general are receptive to the holistic approach of natural medicine and therapies for their pets?

Our clients seek us because their companions have complex conditions with multiple problems, or where the conventional treatment seems overwhelming, or where they tried conventional approaches and they haven’t helped or worse, caused more problems. So most of our clients are already receptive. In general though about 50% of people have sought alternatives or more natural approaches for their own healthcare, so its no surprise that people are open to these approaches for their pets.

Q - You offer a wide variety of natural therapies at your All Natural Vet Care Clinic; are there any of these therapies which you find are more popular than others?

With 6 vets in the practice we all bring some special skills, but all of use acupuncture and herbal medicine, as well we do a lot of chiropractic and rehabilitation work for musculoskeletal disease. We highlight nutrition as central to wellbeing and tailor diets for individual needs. As well we try and minimise chemical load with strategic approaches to parasite control and vaccination. Homeopathy is popular, as is prolotherapy and our holistic approach to animal dentistry- the mouth is frequently neglected yet can impact hugely on health in our animals.

Q - There seems to be a trend towards owner’s feeding their dogs fresh meat rather than commercially prepared foods. Do you think this is healthier and more natural alternative?

It all depends. There is so much variation in quality in what’s available. Fresh meat on its own is not a healthy alternative, but fresh food should always be a part of every animal's diet. It needs to be balanced with other foods to make it healthy without commercial diets or supplements. On the whole we advocate natural diets or combinations, there isn’t one approach that suits all animals, life stages or disease so we place an emphasis on what will work best for each animal and their carer- some people simply can't do natural diets- so we work on ways to improve the plane of nutrition with what's available. At our practice we have raw foods, lightly cooked balanced foods, natural dry foods and special diets.

Q - As the author of 2 books, Healthy Dogs & A Handbook of Natural Therapies and Natural Healing for Cats and Dogs are there any plans for another book in the future?
There are three other books I have coauthored for vets, one on herbal medicine, one on complementary medicine and an encyclopedia of animal behavior. I think that’s enough for the time being! What I am involved in now is writing courses on natural medicine for vets and people who want to learn about natural health approaches for animals.
Q – Could you explain a bit about Prolotherapy and/or Tui na for our readers?
Prolotherapy is a technique where we inject into areas around and sometimes inside joints to reduce the symptoms of pain. We rarely need to sedate animals to do it, and the effects are seen within 1-2 weeks. We have had several patients that have either had surgery for cruciate problems, or ones where owners have declined surgery, and this is a great alternative to get dogs walking comfortably. It can be used for any joint, especially where there is laxity. We have been very impressed with it. Tui na is a part of Chinese medicine, if you like it is a form of oriental physiotherapy using hand movements to effect changes in the muscles, tendons and joints of the body, dogs just love it.
Q - It takes someone very special to be so dedicated to be a Veterinarian and help animals, for anyone considering a career path as a Veterinarian is there any advice you can give them to help them decide?
I don’t think you have to be special at all. I think you have to have a strong desire to work with animals and be motivated to make it through years of study and exams, but more importantly you have to love working with people too. There are ups and downs in veterinary medicine. I find it is a vocation, not a job, you take home the patients in your head and think about them. Its not a case of leaving your work at the practice. I worry too much. So its probably helpful if you don’t worry so much! It is the most wonderful work to be able to help animals and their owners through difficult times, it can be hugely stressful and it can be emotionally taxing, but the rewards are well worth it. You can get into vet school with good grades, though there are other opportunities now, some of the best vets have been veterinary nurses before, some have done other degrees at uni before entering vet school. One of my clients mentioned how much she would like to be a vet, she was a designer, now she is already into the second year of vet school. Age is never a barrier. My best advice is to make sure it is what you want to do and gain some experience by working in a practice. But there are many career opportunities other than in practice too. There's wildlife conservation, zoos, teaching, public health, animal welfare, behavior, research , the list goes on.
We would like to sincerely thank Dr Fougere for her in-depth, thoughtful answers. Carol and Monika

 

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