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Happy and Healthy Pets

Elevate Pet Wellness Center Takes an Integrative Wellness Approach to Post-Pandemic Pets

Article by Kimberly Blaker + Cheryl Parton

Originally published in Bend Lifestyle

Observe a pet’s eyes as it sees you with leash in hand to confirm that, yes, they feel emotions. According to researchers, the development level of a dog's emotions is equivalent to that of a two or two-and-a-half-year-old child. While their emotions may be less complex than those found in human adults, pets can still experience anxiety, says Dr. Carlo Siracusa at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, as explained in the book "Do Dogs Feel Sadness?" by Kate Hughes. Where human adults may feel down as a result of ruminating about their failures or imperfections, dogs can experience anxiety for a variety of other reasons. “Anxiety manifests in many different ways and separation anxiety is increasingly more common in our pets,” according to Dr. Brooke Jacoby, owner and veterinarian at Elevate Pet Wellness Center in Bend. During the past two years of the pandemic, many pet parents spent more time with their pets at home than before. A possibility for an increase in anxiety she notes, is the shift back to the workplace. “Pets that typically had their human with them most of the day, now have to figure out how to adjust to being alone for longer periods of time,” she says.

A lack of exercise can also be a cause. It’s important to find out how much and what types of exercise are appropriate for your dog's breed and age, and make sure your dog regularly gets the exercise it needs. Certain medical conditions may also lead to changes in a pet’s mood so a shift in behavior is reason to schedule a veterinary exam. Fortunately, there are new models for the holistic treatment of pets. We spoke to Dr. Jacoby about the way Elevate Pet Wellness Center is changing the model for treatment in Central Oregon using Integrative Veterinary Care.

Bend Lifestyle: What are the benefits of Integrative Veterinary Care?

Dr. Brooke Jacoby, owner/veterinarian at Elevate Pet Wellness Center: “Integrative Veterinary Care is an exciting and rewarding facet of veterinary medicine that blends multiple modalities. It allows us to utilize conventional medicine when applicable and then blend more holistic options into a treatment plan. This can include focusing on whole food nutrition, utilizing Chinese medicine, acupuncture or western herbal support as well as a variety of body work methods. A holistic perspective also includes emotional and environmental health and focuses on rebalancing the body to reduce susceptibility to disease and environmental stimuli.”

Bend Lifestyle: Do dogs/pets have anxiety? How do you spot signs of anxiety?

Dr. Jacoby: “Given that integrative care focuses on emotional well-being as well as physical well-being, we are frequently assessing and discussing a seemingly increase in anxiety in our pets as we emerge from pandemic conditions. Anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways including destructive behavior, vocalization, reactivity, changes in appetite, increased gastrointestinal unbalance such as vomiting or diarrhea and other physical ailments including self-destructive behavior.”

Bend Lifestyle: How do you treat anxiety in dogs? 

Dr. Jacoby: “Like with most conditions, there is no ‘one size fits all.’” Emotional and behavioral health has many facets including supporting their body through nutrition, appropriate supplements and in some cases medications. For example, we are constantly discovering the importance of the gut microbiome and as related to emotional health, the idea of the gut-brain connection. Supporting and enhancing gut health through nutrition, probiotics, and other supplemental support has the benefit of addressing anxiety in our pets, but this is just one facet. Another important treatment option is behavioral modification and training. Therefore, Camilla Wellhaven will be joining our team once weekly for training and behavior consultations. She has more than 20 years of experience and is a certified pet dog trainer (CPDT-KA). She believes that training is a dialogue between a pet parent and their dog and that the best way to develop a positive training relationship is through observation, clear communication, and kindness. We are excited to have her join us at Elevate as we really feel that emotional wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing.”

  • PHOTO: Annie Spratt
  • PHOTO: Jonas Vincent

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