Complementary and Alternative


At Hancock Animal Hospital we believe strongly in the benefits of modern-medicine. We offer a full diagnostic workup and modern treatment modalities. Dr. Wember and Dr. Davis both have interest in working with different complementary/alternative medical modalities in addition to modern-western medicine. We believe in using alternative treatment options in conjunction to standard care. Dr. Wember and Dr. Davis have interest in acupuncture, homeopathy, nutritional therapies, and herbal medicine.

We have included a brief outline of some of the different complementary modalities and we are always happy to answer any questions you may have.


Originating in China, Acupuncture is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture has been used as a therapy for animals since around 2000-3000 BC. Acupuncture involves the piercing of skin, just below the epidermis, with thin metal needles to help prevent or treat disease (or imbalance) at specific points in the body. The insertion of the needles usually does not draw blood, cause pain, or discomfort in people or animals.

The term acupuncture finds its roots in the Latin acus and pungare, meaning “needle” and “to pierce,” respectively. In Traditional Chinese Medicine disease is approached as a disturbance in the balance of Chi (pronounced chee), “life energy” or “life force,” that encompasses the interrelationships of the patient as a whole. In many ways this is in contrast to modern-western medicine which takes a causative, allopathic approach attempting to form a linear relationship between causes and effects. The Chi is transported within the body system between the five major organs; the lungs, heart, kidneys, spleen, and liver, which are based on different meridians, or paths, that carry the Chi. Acupuncture is the stimulation specific points (acupoints) along the meridians that allow the Chi to flow in a more balanced way, either away from or towards an area of the body.

These points are stimulated by the needle and help to restore the balance and flow of Chi, and in such preventing or treating imbalances that lead to the manifestation of disease, as well as to strengthen the bodies own immune system. Within acupuncture many different aspects and methods exist, including: electroacupuncture, which involves sending slight electrical impulses through the needles to stimulate the flow of Chi; moxibustion with the burning of herbs, and acupressure.

Homeopathic Medicine

Homeopathic medicine formally started in the early 1800s by the physician Dr. Samuel Christian Hahnemann, who believed in the philosophy that “Similia Similibus Curentur” or likes cure likes. The word homeopathy gets its roots from the Latin homoios and pathos meaning “like” and “sickness,” respectively. Dr. Hahnemann clarified the definition as “A substance that produces a certain set of symptoms in a healthy person has the power to cure a sick person manifesting the same symptoms.”

According to the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy, the healing philosophy is that within an organism, a stronger disease destroys a weaker disease that is similar in its manifestation. The philosophy is that when homeopathy cures a problem, it is due to a stronger artificial disease (through the correct remedies) destroying the weaker natural disease, because both cannot exist simultaneously. The artificial disease has a shorter life span, is usually subclinical, and the patient recovers rapidly. Homeopathic doctors develop remedies (the medications are referred to as remedies) by having people ingest or be exposed to a substance (including pharmaceuticals, plant or animal products, viruses, minerals, vitamins, or bacteria), and noting the specific symptoms that occur at high doses.

The substance is then diluted down to barely trace or even untraceable levels, with the idea of the “essence of the substance” being transferred into the diluted form. The diluted solution is usually put on small sugar balls, or in fluid form, that are ingested orally. In theory the diluted forms in the remedy displace a natural disease showing similar symptoms. After the diagnosis of a disorder, the practitioner prescribes a remedy of a diluted substance that most closely reproduces similar symptoms in healthy subjects. In addition, people believe that the body’s immune system plays a vital role in this process; therefore, it needs to be intact for homeopathic remedies to be fully effective. Since homeopathic remedies are a severely diluted form of the substance (usually an herb), the chance for toxicity is unlikely but should never be completely ruled out.


Nutritional therapies for diseases is a growing field that continues to provide a multitude of treatment and disease preventing options. Nutrition must be an integral part of any type of health care plan since it is one of the basis for an individual’s ability to prevent, fight off, and to recover from existing diseases.

Nutraceuticals is the common name for nutrients being given at a supra-physiologic level to treat a specific disease. In many cases with nutritional therapies the margin of safety has not been well established, so the risk of toxicity should be considered. One example is Vitamin-A, which has a very low therapeutic index (a very small range of safety vs. toxicity). The efficacy of many types of nutritional therapies being used today have not been scientifically established. In many instances the doses and philosophy behind nutritional therapies is based on a relative insufficiency causing disease and assuming that excess will help fight the disease. This is not to say, in any way, that nutritional therapies are ineffective, just that there is not always sound scientific data supporting their efficacy.

Raw Diets

Controversy exists over feeding cooked or non-cooked diets to dogs and cats. Home cooked meals can be very beneficial for animals because they can be prepared specifically for each animals’ specific needs with out the preservatives and processing that are involved with commercial diets. Cooking food can decrease the bioavailability of certain proteins when it undergoes reactions such as the Maillard reaction. Other nutrients, such as fish oils (especially omega-3 fatty acids) are decreased and are susceptible to oxidation with cooking which can form damaging free radicals. Some nutrients, such as folic acid, become more bioavailable with cooking.

Drawbacks to feeding raw foods exist, especially feeding raw meats. Parasitic worms and dangerous bacteria can exist in un or undercooked meats that are extremely dangerous. We do not feel that raw foods should be fed to companion animals due to the serious health risks involved. We do feel that homemade diets are very beneficial and recommend feeding a homemade diet if possible. We have proven formulas and recipes for many different homemade diets in dogs and cats.

Homemade Diets

Homemade diets for dogs and cats can have significant health benefits. Homemade diets can be adjusted to your particular pet’s nutritional needs. They also have significantly less potentially harmful preservatives and additives. Homemade diets take a significant amount of time and work on the part of the pet owner, but can be very rewarding and advantageous.

Homemade diets can be risky if they are not prepared or stored in the proper manner. Commercial diets add preservatives to help decrease the chance of contamination with harmful bacteria or other agents.

Homemade diets can be done safely and effectively with the correct ingredients and storage techniques.

We provide proven homemade diet recipes to our clients for their pet’s specific dietary needs. You can prepare food that is for all stages of life (Puppy/Kitten, Adult, Senior), as well as diets for specific illnesses such as: renal (kidney) disease, liver disease, urinary tract diseases, cancer, gastrointestinal diseases, and others.

We are always happy to help develop a dietary plan for our patients that will take into account the patient’s specific needs.