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  Sunday, April 23rd, 2017


  DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital  |  Community Room (upstairs)

An introduction to methods of addressing behavioral problems from a holistic perspective.  



What We Learned

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Dr. Weingardt chats with ACT President, Daniela, Dr. Valli Parthasarathy and Scott Raymond of Synergy Behavior Solutions.  

The weather could hardly have been more different from the sunny, 80-degree day last April, when Dr. Weingardt introduced us to Holistic Veterinary Medicine.  Yet, despite unusually sluggish Sunday traffic and heavy rain, the room was packed for our holistic discussion about behavior imbalances.

Because holistic veterinary medicine is still uncharted territory for many people, Dr. Keith began with his own story to bring it all into perspective. 

After finishing his post-graduate work at Cornell University, he dove head-first into emergency and critical care medicine.  The foundation of his training was pure, unadulterated, Western veterinary medicine.  He even described himself as somewhat of a skeptic with regards to alternative practice.

His journey into holistic medicine began unexpectedly, when his own dog became ill.  After allopathic methods failed to help Max, Dr. Weingardt arrived at the oh-so-familiar, “I’ve tried everything else, why not this?” stage, and he visited a holistic veterinary practitioner for the first time.

The overwhelmingly positive results of Max’s holistic treatment – outliving his prognosis in good condition and spirit by several months – opened Dr. Weingardt’s previously skeptical heart. 

Holistic in a Nutshell

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With allopathic medicine, which is considered the “traditional” or Western approach, we often end up playing a long and frustrating game of “whack-a-mole,” where we address illnesses as they manifest with the application of strong counteractive remedies.  During his years of emergency veterinary experience, he observed that many pets presented because of complications from chronic conditions – obesity, kidney disease, auto-immune disorders, digestive issues, and cancer.  These were treated in the usual way, with surgery, anti-this-or-that medication, and increasingly restrictive processed diets.

Holistic veterinary medicine suggests that many common ailments can and should be prevented by setting up a healthier lifestyle, ideally from a young age, thereby keeping allopathic measures limited to acute conditions, or late- rather than early-stage chronic disease. 

Dr. Weingardt also addresses behavioral concerns in a holistic fashion.  He believes that common problems like aggression, fear, litterbox avoidance, and reactivity can be more successfully corrected if the patient is treated from the whole-body perspective.  This means feeding a complete and proper diet, eliminating or avoiding environmental stressors, and supplementing as needed to encourage healthy hormonal, digestive, and neurological pathways.


Man’s Best Friend and Mirror Image

The connection between dogs and people is almost as old as the human race itself, and we are strongly intertwined that a world without dogs seems positively dismal.

Dog ShrinkDogs and humans are eerily similar in many ways – from metabolic disorders that can be treated with the same medication, to expressing identical emotions – it can come as no surprise that we believe dogs even suffer from some of the same mental and emotional dysfunctions that affect humans.  Dr. Weingardt asks if the audience can think of a dog they’ve met that was “on the spectrum” of autism.  We laugh, the idea is preposterous in a way, and yet all of us probably thought of at least one such dog. 

So, how do we approach behavioral, emotional, and mental issues in our pets?  Dr. Keith first establishes the importance of consulting with a trainer or behavioral professional.  Training and/or behavior support must be included in the pet’s holistic game-plan to maximize the benefit of any treatment, supplementation, or environmental change.

Once training needs are identified, he begins with the ABC’s:

Avoidance – don’t put anything into the body that isn’t necessary

Build up the immune system through good diet and appropriate supplementation

Commit to the process.  Healing takes time!


The Brain-Bowel Connection

Good foodNext, consider the most valuable medicine we can give our pets – food.  Just as in humans, nutrient imbalance or deficiency can affect our mood and increase our vulnerability to stress.  The body craves whole, unprocessed food, with its microbiome intact.

But there’s more to it than just eating right – a healthy digestive system has a marked effect on emotional well-being.  Research has shown that probiotic supplementation relieves depression and improves response to anti-depressive therapies.  We consider it a foregone conclusion that veterinary research will soon show that the same theory is true for dogs and cats.

   Probiotic supplementation can positively affect anxiety and depressive symptoms: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

   Effect of Probiotics on Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Finally, consider the nutritional needs of the brain.  Much of what the brain requires is supplied directly via digestion, including components to build and protect nerves, such as Omega-3 fatty acids.  If the body does not have access to sufficient resources to support brain function, neuro-reception can quickly become weak or dysfunctional.


Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

DSCF2334 smallMuch of what defines Dr. Weingardt’s medical approach can be found in the precepts of TCVM, including acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and food therapy.  To learn more, Dr. Keith recommends the book, Four Paws Five Directions, by Cheryl Schwartz DVM.

He presented a very demonstrative case study involving a 2-year-old intact male Border Collie.  Like most of these dogs, this patient was bred and trained to work, but suffered an injury which prevented him from doing so.  Anyone who has spent time with a Border Collie knows that they must have exercise and mentally stimulating work, or they suffer psychologically, often becoming aggressive or manic as a result.

Using the TVCM diagnosis tree, Dr. Keith pronounced Liver Qi stagnation, and began to evaluate possible therapies.

This patient was so “pent up” that his muscles were rigid and outrageously sensitive – not a good candidate for acupuncture, but an excellent one for massage.

Chinese herbal formula directed at pacifying Liver and smoothing flow of Qi in the body, combined with a home-cooked yin and blood tonifying diet, allowed the patient to release much of the energy that he had been unable to express in his usual manner, and improved his ability to cope during his physical rehabilitation.


Introduction to Herbal Remedies and Homeopathy


Dr. Weingardt then reviewed some specific formulas for various imbalances, including the classic Bach flower essences.  To learn more, he recommends visiting

He also believes that, when the law allows for more research and practice, canniboids will contribute enormously to herbal remedy options.  

Homeopathy is another branch of holistic medicine that proposes solutions to illnesses that are based on the cause.  For example, rabies vaccines are implicated in behavioral changes, such as fear and aggression, which can be addressed using homeopathic methods.  To learn more, Dr. Keith recommends the book, Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs, by Don Hamilton DVM


The Reiki Effect

Remember that human-animal bond we’re always talking about?  It’s real.  And what’s more, it can heal.  Dr. Keith is an attuned Reiki master, and this allows him to share in the energy of his patients, which helps him to communicate with and comfort them. 

Before starting his day, he meditates on the Five Reiki Precepts:

Just for Today: 

  • Do Not Anger
  • Do Not Worry
  • Be Humble
  • Be Honest in Your Work
  • Be Compassionate to Yourself and Others

To learn more about Reiki, Dr. Keith recommends the following resources:




Holistic Full Circle

Dr. Weingardt concluded with a summary of his process for addressing animal behavior concerns holistically:

  • Training is the foundation of success
  • Good nutrition is essential
  • Don’t forget your ABCs!
  • Explore as many treatment options as possible
  • Seek guidance from other holistic professionals whenever possible


ACT extends a sincere thanks to Dr. Weingardt for his time and expertise.

Please check back soon for the full video presentation.