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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Jonathan Hale Foreman, DVM, MS (University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine)
Description: This book on complementary medicine in small animal practice purposefully avoids the use of the commonly used term, "alternative medicine." Since the book is limited to small animal use, it contains no detail on equine alternative therapies despite the frequent use of alternative therapies in equine practice. There are 8 sections with 35 chapters, a glossary, and one appendix.
Purpose: The authors' intent is to provide the first definitive book on the integration of complementary medicine into conventional western medicine in the practice of small animal veterinary medicine. The book is patterned after Kirk's "Current Veterinary Therapy" or "Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult." There is a dearth of easily found information on alternative therapies and the authors have produced a book that will prove useful to those who require a checklist source of alternative therapies for treating, either primarily or integratively, common clinical problems seen in small animal practice.
Audience: The book is intended for practitioners of veterinary medicine who require a single source of information on treating common clinical problems with some form of complementary medicine, either alone or adjunctively. Veterinary students may find the book difficult to follow until they have mastered the more common, conventional western styles of clinical therapy. The authors seem to be credible authorities on integrative medicine, but in the Preface they seem to undermine their own faith in these techniques in acknowledging that, "we often run into the brick wall of evidence-based rules that prohibit the expanded use of alternative therapies because there is little statistical proof that they work."
Features: The book uses a systems approach, followed by sections on the complementary treatment of cancer and on vaccinations. The section on vaccines contains considerable personal opinion regarding the efficacy of vaccines, and more emphasis on the potential negative outcome of vaccination rather than on the clear-cut conventional belief in the widespread positive aspects of infectious disease prevention through vaccination. For those interested in pursuing complementary therapies, the book provides a litany of potential therapies for common small animal diseases. Section 8 provides a handy list of contact information for sources of various complementary therapies such as herbs, glandulars, otics, oils, and nutraceuticals.
Assessment: This is an excellent example of the fact that one can say almost anything unchallenged in a book as opposed to having content which must undergo peer review in order to be published in the conventional scientific literature. For example, in the preface, the authors state that "the incidence of chronic disease and cancer...has increased at alarming rates and is diagnosed at younger ages, even in puppies and kittens." Where is the evidence for such a statement? Unfortunately, it is statements such as this one which make the acceptance of alternative medicine so difficult for those who require more evidence than, "I gave this small amount of an herb to this dog and it got better, so the herb must have worked." In this manner, the authors have perpetuated the disservice that this aspect of the veterinary profession has created by failing to perform placebo-controlled case studies with alternative therapies, studies which would be required by the FDA for the approval of any commercial veterinary medical product.