Patty and Andy Bustle’s dog Dieter is a 15-year-old golden retriever with arthritis. Dr. Kristin BeVirt-Patneaude has been treating him with acupuncture for five years, which has improved his mobility.

Integrative Modalities

Custom treatments promote best health

Dr. Kristin BeVirt-Patneaude of Greendale Village Vet recently expanded her integrative treatments for dogs and cats. BeVirt has been studying veterinary western herbal medicine through the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies in Australia, which recently awarded her a diploma. Herbal medicine for animals is a fairly new area of study and practice, and the college currently offers one of the only graduate programs for veterinary western herbal medicine in the world.

Although western herbal medicine began with Greco-Roman and European traditions, it now incorporates herbs from many cultures, including Europe, India, China, Japan and Native America, explained BeVirt. She said the practice of western herbal medicine differs from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which is rooted in ancient formulas.
Instead, the herbs used are from many traditions to develop custom formulas for each patient. “Western herbal medicine also uses a system of diagnosis more closely related to our current way of understanding how body systems work, as opposed to a traditional system of diagnosis used in TCM,” said BeVirt.

“You look at the patient as a whole,” she said. “That might include emotional stress, diet or organs that aren’t functioning at optimal levels. With western herbal medicine, there’s a huge focus on gut health and making sure there is healthy gut flora, because the gut is the root of where so many problems come from. It’s a different philosophy.”

Integrative therapies are well-suited for kidney disease, allergies, intestinal problems like gastric reflux, cancer and chronic diseases. “You can do things sooner in the course of disease,” she said, “and you can make formulas that cater to all the patient’s different problems.” Plus, she noted, it’s often very effective to blend traditional medications with herbs.

“Herbal medicine can be used for short-term relief,” she said, “but for the most part it’s better for the long term, because you’re trying to change how the physiology is working.” For example, many herbs have anti-inflammatory properties, so they can reduce pain in arthritic animals. “Additionally, other herbs can be added to improve blood flow to the joints, strengthen cartilage, support detoxifying organs and provide pain relief as well, for a more integrative approach.”

Greendale Village Vet also has other modalities for treating pets that complement traditional and herbal approaches. Class IV laser therapy is particularly useful for arthritis, spinal cord injuries and wound healing, said BeVirt. “This type of laser can kill bacteria. It excites the cells in the site you’re focused on, so it can help a wound heal more quickly, for example.”

Class IV laser therapy also can help take down swelling, reduce scarring in a spinal cord injury and improve blood flow to painful joints. It can even be used to ease tight muscles. BeVirt also uses acupuncture for pain management in pets with arthritis or back pain.

“We are very excited to include Dr. BeVirt’s unique skill set in the options we can provide for pet care,” said Dr. Michelle McDonough, clinic owner. “We are very proud to be leaders in veterinary medical care not just in Greendale but also for other nearby communities, and Dr. BeVirt is an integral part of our team.”

Greendale Village Vet doctors offer full traditional veterinary and integrative services for cats and dogs. For more information, visit or call 414-421-1800.