We are continuing our series Asheville Loves Dogs, featuring some of our neighbors who share our philosophy about dog sentience and compassionate care. These are our favorite dog-friendly places, businesses, and services that make Asheville such a great place to live with a dog!
Our third interview is with Dr. Laurel Davis of Sunvet Animal Wellness Clinic. Dr. Laurel is an authority in her field of holistic veterinary care, with a wealth of knowledge and a willingness to take time to get to know each pet personally and get a feel for their needs. Whether you want a holistic veterinarian as a supplement for more in-depth care, or you want a strictly holistic veterinary approach, we highly recommend Dr. Laurel and Sunvet.
Dr. Laurel says that she has always looked outside of conventional wisdom, especially when it came to her veterinary training. Believing that there is more than meets the eye, she feels driven to dig deeper and listen to intuition. This led her to take the International Veterinary Acupuncture course shortly after became a practicing veterinarian, and then to continue adding other modalities to her toolbox including craniosacral therapy, chiropractic manipulation, and pranic healing. After seven years of practicing veterinary medicine "by the book" and becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of lasting results from conventional treatments, she took a course in applied kinesiology which changed the direction of her practice, helping her dig deeper to access the root causes of animals' chronic physical issues.
Dr. Laurel established Sunvet Animal Wellness Clinic in 1996 with the mission of strengthening the relationships between animals and their people as the basis of true and lasting healing. A visit to Sunvet covers all the conventional veterinary bases like physical exams with detailed observation, bloodwork, and fecals, but applied kinesiology takes the journey deeper to include the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects as well as including all the members of the family in the conversation.
How would you define holistic veterinary medicine?
Holistic veterinary medicine intends to treat animal companions as individuals and as a whole. At Sunvet, we view and treat patients as the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical beings that they are.
Everything in our and our animals’ lives is related. As a holistic veterinarian, I am looking at how the seemingly independent aspects of our animals’ lives all fit together and affect one another. This approach helps me discover root causes of illness and come up with treatment plans that address my patient’s specific needs. What works for one animal may not work for another. Each animal is unique and special, and they deserve to be treated that way.
What advice do you give most often to your dog owner clients?
Learn to "speak dog." Establishing clear and healthy ways of communication with your four-legged sets her up to succeed in her interactions with humans. Pay attention to her body language. Make time to connect deeply with her through play. All of these things strengthen your relationship, which is the basis for true and lasting healing. Working with a qualified dog trainer can be especially helpful in this quest. Luckily, we have some amazingly talented trainers in the Asheville area.
I also do a lot of nutritional consultations, and aside from promoting fresher and many times raw diets, I am all about making any change S L O W L Y! When small changes are made with 5-day increments, your dog’s body has a chance to adjust to the new diet. Also, observing the poop on a daily basis helps you judge how well your buddy is adjusting to the new dietary arrangement.
What are some common myths or misconceptions that you educate dog owners about?
1. Dry kibble is good for your dog’s teeth. The truth is that dry food alone doesn’t keep your dog properly hydrated, and that’s so important to their overall health! There are plenty of ways to keep your animal’s teeth healthy like regular brushing, feeding raw bones, anesthesia-free teeth cleaning, but there’s only one way to keep them hydrated: ensuring their diet is balanced and full of hydration.
2. Vaccines are necessary throughout your four-legged's life. Not so! Most vaccines create lifelong protection from specific diseases. At Sunvet, we recommend vaccine titers, a blood test that helps assess a dog’s immunity, before giving booster vaccines.
3. You must give heartworm protection all year round. Mosquitoes are the vector for heartworms. If you live in a climate that has cold seasons, then you should be able to have your buddy go off his heartworm protection during the winter as there will be no mosquitoes around. In Asheville, NC, I have clients give the last dose of heartworm preventative in December and resume on April Fool's Day.
What do you find most challenging in working with dogs and their owners?
I often see folks who bring in a dog with a chronic ailment or disease that has been escalating for most of that animal’s life. They have been on the conventional medicine route to treat the issue and are wringing their hands in frustration because there has been no resolution. When they come to Sunvet in desperation, they expect a quick fix and miracles to happen. Sometimes that is exactly what unfolds! More often, healing chronic disease takes time. When a problem has been around for a long time, we need to address several issues. It’s sort of like peeling an onion, with its many layers of skin. Patience is necessary on the holistic journey!
What do you find most gratifying about your work?
I love the novelty of every heart-centered moment I spend with my patients and their people. While I was practicing solely conventional veterinary medicine, I always felt there was something missing from my veterinary "toolbox." Now, with applied kinesiology and the other holistic modalities I practice, I can dig deeper and embrace the uniqueness of every individual who walks through the door. No two animals, even animals with the same clinical signs or disease states, should be treated the same way. When I look with a broader vision, chances are I can get to the root of the matter and come closer to discovering a cure. I love the challenge and the reward of helping my patients!
What other information is important to you that you’d like to discuss and share with our clients?
Be available to interact with your sweet sidekick. When you notice her staring at you, pause to consider what you are doing at that very minute. Are you in your second hour of watching TV or sitting at the computer? Is she legit in her scrutinizing of your behavior? Be honest with yourself about your motivation for "zoning out." Perhaps it’s time to get off your bum and play or take a walk with your furry friend. Chances are, she’s not being impertinent but instead has your best interests at heart.
For more information:
Check out Sunvet's website at sunvetanimalwellness.com.
Connect on Facebook at Holistic Vet Dr. Laurel Davis - Listen to Your Animal - Sunvet.
Visit Sunvet Animal Wellness Clinic at 251 Haywood St A, Asheville, NC.