TRADITIONAL Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help sick animals get well, says veterinarian Kasey Tan.

After several years of practice based on Western veterinary medicine, Dr Tan, 43, began to notice that not all of his furry and feathered patients respond to prescribed medication the same way even though they suffer from the same disease.

Dr Tan, who practises at the Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic in Serangoon North, says: “That is when I became curious about TCM’s way of healing, which looks at the patient as a whole.

“Instead of treating the symptoms, TCM investigates the condition that leads to the symptoms. It corrects the underlying cause and mobilises the body’s natural healing process to improve the patient’s health.”

 

Integrating East and West

Last year, Dr Tan obtained a Certification in Veterinary Chinese Herbal Medicine from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.

Since then, he has integrated Chinese herbs into his Western veterinary training and received positive feedback from his clients.

“The complementary relationship between TCM and Western medicine allows me to exploit both types of training to offer the best treatment for my patients.

“I am pleasantly surprised that most clients are very receptive to TCM and most pets do not mind taking the herbs,” he says.

He adds that TCM is most suited for patients with chronic diseases that require long-term medication, and has been used to treat chronic skin diseases and arthritis. It is also used as palliative support for cancer patients.

In addition, he taps into the ancient Chinese treatment method to manage other conditions, for example, heart disease and bronchitis.

 

Dogs, cats and ‘pocket pets’

Dr Tan has been based at the north branch of the Mount Pleasant Veterinary Group for the past 14 years. He joined the group after graduating from veterinary school in 1996.

On average, he sees 10 to 15 cases in a day, with dogs and cats being the most common patients.

His days, however, are anything but mundane.

“As general practitioners, we do not know what species of animals we would see or what conditions they would present. In that sense, every day is a challenge,” says Dr Tan, who is also seeing more “pocket pets”, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, chinchillas and rabbits these days.

He encounters a range of health problems in his patients.

These can be minor or non-critical ailments such as skin diseases, minor coughs, diarrhoea and ear problems or potentially serious problems like epilepsy and infection of the uterus.

In addition to medical care, Dr Tan performs other procedures, including sterilisation, dental scaling and surgical operations to repair a fracture or to remove a lump.

 

Appreciative patients and clients

He derives his greatest reward from knowing that he is able to educate clients on the appropriate care for their pets, correct wrong information and see the animals’ health improve.

He also receives expressions of gratitude that are far more tangible.

“My job allows me to witness very appreciative patients, like a boisterous labrador that jumps for a hug or a cat that enjoys my chin rub.

“The pet owners express their appreciation by giving us thank you cards, food and drinks,” says Dr Tan.

He recalls the most memorable incident in his course of work was when a client made a comment that still resonates in his head.

The client — whose labrador and golden retriever needed regular consultations for their chronic skin and ear problems — told him: “Come to think about it, you have become our family vet. We don’t even have a family doctor.”

Dr Tan says: “This statement made me see that pets are treated as family members in our society.

“It also made me feel that veterinary service is a relationship more than a transactional process, where owners choose to entrust their beloved pets to me for the best care.”

 

For details, visit www.mountpleasant.com.sg/north