As a child, Dr. Margo Roman was bandaging stuffed animals and taking in wounded creatures. During high school she worked at a veterinary clinic and, in 1978, Roman officially became a veterinarian herself. Five years later she opened her practice as a mobile clinic, which transformed into Main Street Animal Services of Hopkinton (MASH), in Hopkinton. In 1993 Roman became an integrative alternative practitioner to expand the range of healing modalities that she could offer to animals in her care. Natural Awakenings wanted to know more about this transition.
How did you become aware of complementary medicine for animals?
I was always interested in nutrition since my parents were very health-conscious, giving us things like cod liver oil and other supplements. During veterinary school I took a course with the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and it really opened my eyes to other possibilities of treating animals with such things as herbs, homeopathy and acupuncture. While I was teaching anatomy at the Tufts University veterinary school, I also taught an applied acupuncture course to the students on my own time, giving them a glimpse of another healing modality. Today some veterinary schools are teaching about the effectiveness of acupuncture with animals.
Another big reason I decided to do holistic medicine with animals came from my own medical experience during veterinary school. I was administering medication to a cow when it got loose and pushed me against a chute, impaling me on a five-inch nail that caused a huge blood clot in my chest. I kept trying to tell doctors that the problem was in my chest but they insisted it was my spleen. I ended up having two massive surgeries and almost dying when they could have found the real problem by simply tapping my chest. It opened my eyes to the fallibility of the medical profession and made me realize that there are other ways to help animals besides rushing to do surgery or something equally traumatic right away.
What alternative approaches have worked with the animals you’ve treated?
In 2001 a client brought her dog to me with tumors in his abdomen. The dog couldn’t walk anymore and two vets had told her to euthanize him. We did acupuncture, homeopathy and nutritional therapy and he ended up having three-and-a-half more really great years of life. The same thing happened with my daughter’s horse, which had eye cancer. He lived for more than two years with alternative treatments after other vets wanted to put him down. I’ve also seen amazing health improvements in animals after my clients switched to raw or partly raw diets for their pets.
What are some practices that you’d like to see more animal caregivers adopt?
The most important thing is high-quality, whole-food nutrition because it’s the key to strengthening the immune system, which is largely based in the gut. Second, I recommend that, when possible, people use plant botanicals, herbs, homeopathy and other options with animals instead of drugs like antibiotics, NSAIDs or steroids. Pain can be managed with acupuncture and chiropractic, whereas pain medications can have harmful side effects, such as liver failure. Masking problems with medication doesn’t correct the problem or imbalance and the body actually deteriorates more because it’s out of alignment. I also use ozone therapy, which yields amazing results with such things as Lyme and dental disease, infections and wounds, cancer, pain, inflammation and chronic itching. At MASH we limit the use of vaccinations, which are tied to rising cancer rates in animals, by checking for antibodies after the initial shots are administered.
How can people find veterinarians who use complementary medicine?
There’s a great organization called the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, and people can visit AHVMA.org and see a directory of veterinarians and what modalities they have studied. It’s broken down by state and there are a number of holistic practitioners in Massachusetts. We’ve also created a video called Dr. Do More that’s designed to educate people about natural health for pets. It’s available on our website, MashVet.com, and it has some great information.
Main Street Animal Services of Hopkinton is located at 72 W. Main St., Hopkinton. For more information, call 508-435-4077 or visit MASHVet.com. This article appears in the July 2012 issue of MIDS