It’s just the nurturing environment Keith Weingardt, DVM, envisioned when he opened the holistic veterinary practice in 2006. Katie Kangas and Amanda Aldridge, both DVMs also trained in holistic therapies, practice with him, as does Ann Montalto, an RN who provides canine massage and bodywork. The setting reflects the warmth and kindness the vets and their staff radiate.
A graduate of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, N.Y., Weingardt was working as a emergency and critical care vet at a specialty hospital in San Diego County when his dog, Max, was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Already frustrated with the limits of Western veterinary medicine, Weingardt began looking for alternative treatments when Max developed severe side effects from massive doses of steroids. The holistic vet he consulted recommended nutritional supplements and homeopathic remedies as well as a raw diet. Soon, Max was eating better, with diminished side effects, and the treating vets were able to reduce his steroids. Max lived another six months, with a greatly improved quality of life.
Max’s illness proved a turning point in the traditionally trained Weingardt’s career, confirming his suspicion that many conventional veterinary diagnostics and treatments offered limited benefits. He studied with a San Diego holistic veterinarian and trained and became certified in veterinary acupuncture, chiropractic and traditional Chinese medicine, including the use of Chinese herbs, before opening AHC.
Weingardt and his colleagues view their practice more as an adjunct to that of general veterinarians and refer clients to other vets for traditional or specialized treatments as needed. They also offer general health and nutritional counseling, helping animals get on the right diets with appropriate supplements. Pets usually come to them, Weingardt explained, “after traditional medicine has exhausted its options.”
“A lot of clients see changes in their pets and bring in their other pets,” added Kangas, who has also served as an emergency vet and spent five years as medical director for the San Diego Humane Society.
“When we opened, (an exclusively holistic practice) was a niche waiting to be filled,” Weingardt explains.
He recommends that those seeking a holistic practitioner ask likeminded friends for recommendations and check credentials. “If someone’s offering services, they should be educated and certified in what they’re offering,” he said.
The following list of holistic veterinarians and veterinary therapists represents a sampling of San Diego practitioners recommended by other veterinarians and clients.
Animal Healing Center
1228 Vega St., San Diego 92110
Keith R. Weingardt, DVM, CVA
Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine and herbs, chiropractic, general health and nutritional counseling, canine massage and bodywork. No general veterinary services; coordinates with pets’ usual vets.
511 S. Cedros Ave., Suites A & B, Solana Beach 92075
Tamara Hebbler, DVM
Holistic veterinary services only; acupuncture, muscle testing, nutrition, nutraceuticals, glandulars, homeopathy, herbs, flower essences, chiropractic and energy therapies.
Home Sweet Home
Dawn Ziegler, DVM
In-home visits in central San Diego for general and holistic veterinary services; health exams, vaccines, medications, lab tests, acupuncture and chiropractic treatments; wider North, East and South County service area for in-home euthanasia.
Cardiff Animal Hospital
2159 San Elijo Ave., Cardiff 92007
Monica A. Laflin, DVM
Traditional and holistic veterinary services; physical therapy, acup-uncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, Chinese herbs and Reiki.
3817 Adams Ave., San Diego 92116
Patricia J. Ungar, DVM, CVA
Traditional and holistic veterinary service; acupuncture, homeopathy, dentistry, nutritional counseling; spa and grooming.
655 W. Citracado Parkway,
Carmine Bausone, DVM, CVA,
Director of Integrative
& Holistic Medicine
Traditional and holistic veterinary medicine; acupuncture, chiropractic, physical rehab and Chinese herbs for birds, rabbits, reptiles and other exotics plus cats and dogs.
Physical Therapy/Water Therapy/Rehabilitation
Animal Acupuncture and Rehabilitation Center (AARC)
10441 Roselle St., Suite D,
San Diego 92121
Claire Sosna, DVM
Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, physical therapy and rehabilitation, water therapy, underwater treadmill.
Cutting Edge K9 Rehab
Markim Pet Resort, 4393 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley 92130
Trish Penick, Physical Therapist
Physical therapy, personal training for dogs and water therapy with heated pool and underwater treadmill; vet referral required.
1362 Garnet Ave.,
Pacific Beach 92109
Renee Wallis, RVT, CCRP, CCRA
Massage, physical and water therapy, underwater treadmill and custom-fit dog braces and carts; vet referral required.
Tinassy’s K-9 Splash-R-Cise
10925 Hartley Rd.,
Suite E, Santee 92071
Water therapy, massage and exercise programs.