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Old December 2nd, 2003, 09:47 AM
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Pet Health care: no waiting lists

Pet Health care: no waiting lists
'You get knee surgery within two days ... try and get that in human hospitals'

ROBERT SCALIA
Freelance

Canada's pet health-insurance industry is projected to grow at roughly 50 per cent a year, says Randy Valpy, vice-president and general manager of Pet Plan, a pet health-insurance company.

"Anything done to humans can now be done to a pet," he said. His company provides coverage to nearly half of Canada's 60,000 insured pets, and pays out several claims a month for hip replacements and chemotherapy.

Health-care plans range from $15 to $50 a month, covering everything from accidents and illnesses to routine care, including blood work, vaccines and dental cleaning.

Among the health care available for pets:

Conventional treatments

From hip surgery to endoscopies, dentistry to tumour removals and chemotherapy, prolonging the life of a pet has never been so important, said Mathieu Doyon, general manager of the Pierrefonds Animal Hospital.

Last year, the hospital performed more than 1,000 operations under strict pain protocols. Sometimes, in-house physiotherapy follows surgery.

"You can get knee surgery within two days' notice here. Try and get that in human hospitals. No way, Josť," Doyon said.

Homeopathy and acupuncture

Once dismissed as "granola" procedures, these therapies have become serious options for more and more pet owners. They generally focus on the organism as a whole - for example, stimulating an animal's immune system with highly diluted, toxin-free medication (homeopathy) or needles (acupuncture) as opposed to killing infections with antibiotics.

When combined with conventional medicine, these treatments can help stabilize and even cure pets suffering from chronic liver, kidney and respiratory illnesses, said Paul Guindon of Montreal's Holistic Veterinary Bureau.

Flower essences

First developed by English physician Edward Bach in the 1930s, flower essences have become a popular way to treat pets with emotional imbalances.

According to U.S. holistic veterinarian Anna Maria Scholey, essences like Cherry Plum can tame aggressive and violent dogs. Heather may soothe whiny animals suffering from separation anxiety, while Rock Rose calms animals prone to panic attacks, she said.

Therapies on the horizon

Aromatherapy, behavioural therapy, chiropractic and integrative manual therapy, massage, osteopathy, hydrotherapy, herbal therapy, colour therapy, Reiki and shamanism are some of the emerging holistic pet treatments listed by the International Alliance for Animal Therapy and Healing.

© Copyright 2003 Montreal Gazette
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