By Rachel Johns
Integrative Medicine Compliments Western Medical Paradigms for Pets
For years, Asheville and the surrounding mountain areas have been a Mecca for those seeking alternative medical treatments. We support a myriad of massage therapists, acupuncturists, herbalists, homeopathy specialists, Reiki energy healers and cranial sacral therapists for ourselves because we believe that there are additional health practices which complement our western medical paradigm. Now, because of Dr Kimberly Whitfield and the Animal Medical Center of Asheville, we can share a wide variety of alternative medical services with our beloved pets and local wildlife.
The types of pets that Dr. Whitfield can treat is vast. She says, “As long as it is your pet and companion, we see them.” Dr Whitfield loves to work with exotic animals and is a rabbit specialist. She has performed surgery on mice, surgery on a wallaroo (a cross between a wallaby and a kangaroo), porcupines, prairie dogs, iguanas, all types of lizards and ferrets, sugar gliders, skunks, and snakes to name a few. As Dr. Whitfield says, “There is no price tag on someone’s beloved pet. I will do everything I can for them.” The clinic’s mission is “to provide the highest quality comprehensive integrative medicine that completely supports the human-animal bond. Healing hands for hurting paws.”
Dr. Whitfield combines her knowledge of surgery and western medical practice with integrative medicine. She understands the importance of treating the whole patient—body, mind and spirit. Westernized medicine is often the first source of treatment for the body when needed, and alternative therapies compliment and support the western physical treatments and nutritional counseling. Dr. Whitfield is a certified veterinary acupuncturist and utilizes homeopathic and herbal medicines, massage therapy and Reiki treatments.
For severe cases, when medications and acupuncture don’t give the pet relief anymore, Dr. Whitfield can also provide stem cell therapy for animals.
“It’s amazing the difference that you can see, mostly for arthritic issues such as osteoarthritis. You can see a difference on the x-ray from before, and after with the body healing itself.”
Dr. Whitfield believes in positively supporting the human-animal bond. Animals can pick up on our stress and we can pick up on theirs. Because of this special bond, Dr. Whitfield has developed the Animal Medical Center of Asheville to provide a relaxing atmosphere for both pets and owners. There are comfortable chairs, coffee and tea, and soft music. There is a special “Cat Room” that is conducive to making felines more relaxed. Most cats like to sit next to their owner. Dr. Whitfield has thoughtfully provided a couch and large chair. The “Dog Room” has a large cushioned mat on the floor for examinations. There are no big, cold, sterile exam tables like in many veterinarian offices. There is even a “Bereavement Room” for end-of-life services that is very relaxed and living-room like. There is a big futon, soft lamps and a comforting warm environment so that the end-of-life transition does not have to be a sterile, frightening experience. Dr. Whitfield also makes house calls to her patient’s homes for end-of-life transitions.
Some pro-active programs that Dr. Whitfield is providing include “Free Vaccines for Life” and “Wellness Plans.”
Free Vaccines for Life: Animal Medical Center of Asheville is now implementing free vaccines for life! Come in for your pet’s yearly exam and whatever core vaccines are due, such as annual heartworm and fecal tests, are free every year for the rest of your pet’s life. Why? “Because,” Dr. Whitfield explains, “our economy is so precarious and there are many people out there who want to take care of their animals but cannot afford it, or go to the grain store and administer these vaccinations themselves with disastrous results. I would rather pet owners come to me and that the vaccines go in correctly and the pets get everything they need. Cost should not be the factor which deters this.”
Wellness Plans: Unlike pet insurance, this plan allows you to break up payment for annual services over 12 months. There are different tiers that range from covering vaccines only to including two wellness visits per year plus any sick visits; Senior Pet Plans include X-rays for preventative medicine. Dr. Whitfield says that, “many conditions when animals get older are treatable. For example, cats with kidney disease often do not present outward signs of kidney disease until two thirds of the cat’s kidneys have been affected. By then you’re fighting an uphill battle.” With Wellness Plans established to provide proactive care, Animal Medical Center of Asheville can prevent and treat many of the conditions that animals get as they age. Diabetes, hypo-and-hyperthyroidism, endocrine disorders like Cushing’s disease are examples of medical conditions that come with age for dogs and cats.
“If your cat lives long enough it will probably get one of the Big Four: hyperthyroidism, diabetes, kidney disease or lymphoma. The first three we can diagnose easily with blood work and yearly urine checks,” Dr. Whitfield states.
Upcoming plans for the future include a Rehabilitation Room for Wildlife. Animal Medical Center of Asheville currently has a rehabilitation-certified vet technician on staff, and plans are in effect to create a separate area for local, injured wildlife. “Whatever needs to be rehabilitated, that needs help, we can do it.” Dr. Whitfield and her two children have themselves successfully rehabilitated a turtle, a goose, baby birds that didn’t have their mother, squirrels (four babies without fur, eyes still shut), and a baby raccoon.
Dr. Kimberly Whitfield has been practicing veterinary medicine for nearly 15 years. She has been the medical director of an animal hospital in the upper east side of Manhattan, an emergency practitioner in Dallas, Texas, a medical director in Connecticut for nine years, and adjunct instructor of surgery of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad in Tobago.
Dr. Whitfield’s clinic, The Animal Medical Center of Asheville, serves pets from all over WNC and is located at 167 Merrimon Avenue, in Asheville, NC.
“It’s my honor and a distinct privilege to be here to help anybody who is in need. I’m here for it all. My patients become my babies very quickly,” she says and seals that promise with a sincere smile.
Rachael Johns is a business content writer with Asheville Creative Content. She enjoys helping empower and promote businesses with interviews, websites, search engine optimization and content support. See www.ashevillecreativecontent.com for more information.