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Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.


At an early age, my parents instilled in me the importance of making a formal introduction. Clearly stating your first and name, offering your (clean) hand to shake, and establishing eye contact help to ensure your remembrance.

Now that I am all grown up (at least from an age perspective) and have been accepted into the petMD fold of veterinary writers, I hope to ensure that you, The Daily Vet reader, will remember my message of holistic pet care.

Here goes my official introduction (commence eye contact and hand shaking):

Greetings companion animal loving petMD community,

I’m Patrick Mahaney, an advocate of adopting healthy food/lifestyle/activity as the building blocks upon which to sustain our pets’ health and manage disease. As an integrative veterinarian, I combine western (conventional) and eastern (Chinese medicine) perspectives to treat my canine and feline patients.

Besides applying my veterinary school training and clinical experiences, I seek a deeper level of understanding the body’s energies and how they correlate to disease processes. Inspired by my strong interest in yoga as a means of establishing a mind-body connection, I became a certified veterinary acupuncturist (CVA) through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS), so that could apply a similar approach to my patients.

My non-traditional approach is well accepted by the open-minded, pet-loving inhabitants of Los Angeles, where I primarily treat my patients on a house call basis. In the familiar confines of a dog or cat’s own home, the calming, healing benefits of acupuncture, acupressure, and musculoskeletal manipulative treatments are most effective. Thoroughly evaluating my patients’ environment also permits me to make lifestyle changes that promote the reduction of traumatic injuries, avoidance of toxic substances, and alleviation of chronic stressors that negatively impact the immune system.

Once I determined that Los Angeles was going to be my home indefinitely, I founded my own practice, California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness (CPAW), Inc. Many of my patients are geriatric or have cancer, so the logical next step was to offer my services at a like minded facility, which has led to my work with the Veterinary Cancer Group.

My own dog, Cardiff, serves as inspiration for my style of practice. Having survived three bouts of typically fatal Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA), Cardiff's illness prompted me to delve deeper into the contributing factors and provide treatment integrating both western and Chinese medicine perspectives. Providing a diet rich in whole foods, immune system enhancing supplements and Chinese herbs, along with medicating him with a consistently dosed immunosuppressive drug has kept his condition under control. Fortunately, Cardiff's health has never been better, but I perform regular laboratory testing and avoid stressors to his immune system that could induce another hemolytic episode.

In 2011, I participated in my first international veterinary volunteer project with Amazon CARES. I traveled to Peruvian urban and Amazon jungle communities to provide medical and surgical treatments to dogs and cats, most of which have no access to any form of veterinary care. You can read about my outreach adventures in the Vets Abroad category of Patrick’s Blog.

Along with my clinical work, I greatly enjoy spreading my message of animal health and welfare through media projects. This brings me to my latest venture as part of petMD’s esteemed team of contributors to The Daily Vet (TDV).

In my TDV blog, I will share the insightful, eye opening, and often life affirming experiences continually encountered in my particular style of veterinary practice. My media work also provides many opportunities to attend pet-positive events, interact with celebrities, and review novel products. I will also take you along on my domestic and international travels and provide a front row perspective on the intrinsic connection between human and animal public health, often seen to the extreme when unfortunate circumstances occur.

I look forward to your readership and invite you to email me at [email protected] with your topic suggestions, comments, questions, and personal tales of holistically treating your pets.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Image: Yoga Dog by xeeliz

holistic pet care, yoga dog, acupuncture for pets

Comments  20

Leave Comment
  • 10/06/2011 12:53am

    Hi, Dr. Patrick, good seeing you here! :-)

  • Thank you Jana
    10/06/2011 04:41am

    Thank you Jana. I hope all is well for you and (one of my) favorite Rottweilers, Jasmine.
    I can't call her my exclusive favorite, as there are a few patients of mine that I have to consider.
    Dr PM

  • Welcome!
    10/06/2011 06:51am

    Welcome, Dr. Mahaney!

    Although I've not had the necessity/opportunity to utilize veterinary acupuncture, I've heard very positive things about it helping kitties with various maladies from asthma to arthritis.

    I look forward to your posts.

  • 10/06/2011 02:40pm

    Thank you for your comments! If you have any specific topics you would like me to cover in future, feel free to submit them and I will see if my petMD supervisors will permit me to cover them as a TDV blog.
    I hope your kitties are well and comfortable. I use acupuncture, supplements, dietary/lifestyle modification, etc as a means of reducing reliance on medications that have side effects (especially NSAIDs for cats).
    Dr PM

  • 10/06/2011 09:25pm

    Hi Dr. Mahaney,

    My current herd is in pretty good shape, thanks.

    I am curious, though, about acupuncture for chronic renal failure kitties. It wouldn't be for pain management, but could acupuncture to anything to help a CRF kitty?

  • 10/10/2011 10:02am

    I use acupuncture (AP) quite often on cats with renal failure. Moxa (moxibustion) applied to needles on the back on the Shu (association) points, especially BL 23 (Influential Point for the Kidney, which is located right above the kidneys) drives heat into the body to recharge the kidneys.
    AP is just part of the treatment, as I also integrate whole food moist diets, supplements, Chinese herbs, fluid therapy (SQ, IV, other) to maintain renal health.

  • integrative vet med!
    10/06/2011 01:45pm

    I am so pleased to see you blogging for PetMD. As one of the two CVHs (certified veterinary homeopath) in CT I welcome you to our online integrative vet med community (started in 1996 at homevet.com).

    I look forward to many enlightening entries by you at TDV.

    Be well.

    Dr. Jeff

  • 10/06/2011 03:32pm

    Thank you Jeff. I am doing what I can in my capacity to show the worldwide pet loving community that the key to the health and wellness of our companion animals comes from taking a holistic perspective to daily living (whole foods, early diagnosis, reduction of reliance on medications, etc).
    If there is ever a topic on which you would like me to write, please send it my way so I can run it my editors at petMD.
    Dr PM

  • welcome
    10/07/2011 11:00am

    Hey Dr Mahaney,
    Any doctor that travels to poor areas to help dogs is a hero in my book.

    I went to a holistic vet to try to treat a pet that had cancer. I was not very happy with the vet; he seemed a bit like a quack. I won’t go into every detail but he actually hastened the pet’s death by shooting the tumour with some sort of berry root and the tumour swelled and the dog suffocated during the night. It would seem to me should have had enough experience to know poking the tumour would make it swell. Terrible death and one that was hard to handle for me. After that experience I have not been back to a holistic vet. Not that I would not try a different again, I am just a little confused as to what a holistic vet can offer that a regular vet does not. I will be very interested to learn what the differences are and how to best use a holistic vet.

    I do have a friend that has a Rottie that bloated a few times and she went to see a vet that is well versed in Chinese medicine. This DR has prescribed a diet based on Hot and cold foods (hot and cold as it pertains to Chinese medicine) and the dog has stopped having episodes of bloat.

    My wife is Chinese and we once took my Uncle to a Chinese medicine doctor and it was amazing how he could look at my uncle and tell him what was going on with his body ( which were the same things that western DR's were telling him via tests). He did prescribe some Chinese medicine but my Uncle said it did not help all that much. I can't conform that my Uncle followed the directions because he has been known to not follow prescriptions that well.

    Anyway welcome and I look forward to learning about you and your practice.

  • 10/07/2011 04:24pm

    Thank you for your comments and the recollections of your personal experiences in using non-traditional means of treating your pets and family members.
    As is the case with every means of seeking treatment for a problem, there will be successes and failures.
    It is vital to be respectful to the patient and choose appropriate means of treatments having minimal side effects.
    I hope we can continue this dialogue on my subsequent posts for TDV.
    Dr PM
    Twitter @PatrickMahaney

  • 10/07/2011 01:20pm

    We took Pupper to see a holistic vet for some acupuncture for her arthritis.. Because of a scheduling conflict, they put us in a very small examining room, one mostly used for cats. Pupper hates, hates, hates the vet anyway, and could have felt claustrophobic. She bore the acupuncture with her tail tucked between her legs. Afterward, we took her on a trail walk to decompress. My husband and I decided that with all the stress hormones coursing through her during the visit, it probably undid any good the acupuncture did, so we decided not to pursue it anymore. Pupper gets generic Rimadyl and an hour long walk in the morning (shorter in the evening), and seems to be doing pretty well for a senior dog. I'm interested in alternative medicine, my husband is skeptical but willing to try it, and Pupper is firmly in the conventional medicine camp ("whatever gets me in and out of the office the quickest.")

  • 10/07/2011 04:26pm

    Thank you for your comments and perspective on the choice of using acupuncture to treat your pet. The situation you describe is quite common, which is why I provide acupuncture treatments in my clients' homes.
    Rimadyl can be useful to reduce inflammation, but its use should be minimized through multimodal pain management (weight loss, healthy activity, natural anti-inflammatory supplements, etc).
    Let's continue this dialogue on my subsequent TDV posts.
    Dr PM
    Twitter @PatrickMahaney

  • 10/07/2011 09:01pm

    Glad to see that a vet with an interest in alternative therapies and nutrition (which seems to be considered "alternative" these days) will be posting. As a person with a lifelong interest in animals, and as a veterinary technician for the past 20 years, I have been amazed at what acupuncture, Chinese herbals, homeopathy and food therapy can do for us and our pets. Western medicine does have its uses, and I was involved in "traditional" veterinary medicine for years, even as I was treating myself and my own pets with alternative methods for nearly a decade and getting incredible results. In the most recent years I was fortunate to be able to work with a vet in a completely holistic practice and see the amazing things that can be done, many times where Western medicine fails or is unable to compete with the results. Our practice was full of cancer patients living years past what they "should have"...and living well, and pets that traditional vets had given up on after running out of ideas where to go next. We also had the joy of starting puppies and kittens out in life using these modalities and avoiding a lot of the common problems seen today with pets.

  • 10/10/2011 10:40pm

    Thank you for sharing your story of successfully using "alternative" veterinary treatments, such as acupuncture, Chinese food energy treatment, etc.
    I find that integrating eastern and western approaches gives us headway in managing many severe and life threatening illness.
    I hope to hear from you again.
    Dr PM
    Twitter @PatrickMahaney

  • obstacles article
    10/09/2011 10:33pm

    Thanks for your offer Patrick. I'd love to see a post wherein you discuss your thoughts about why many pet owners do *not* pursue integrative and truly holistic vet med. Most people intellectually understand the dangers of working against the body, toxic chemicals, etc. Despite this, they often accept the conventional vet med option without looking further.

    What do you think we're doing wrong and what can be done to improve the situation?

    Thanks again.

    Dr. Jeff (homevet.com)

  • 10/11/2011 09:27am

    Great suggestions. I'll put it on my potential topics list and get brainstorming.
    Right off of the bat, I think many owners may not choose this option due to lack of availability, with veterinarians who have not pursued further training declining to engage in any "alternative" treatment protocols.
    I'm checking out your website right now!
    Dr PM
    Twitter @PatrickMahaney

  • 10/11/2011 10:36am

    Perhaps something about the further training as well? As in certifications available and brief info about the different modalities....i.e. Chi Institute education, IVAS, what exactly a basic 10 hour course in acupuncture gives you vs. a masters in TCM, chiropractic care, food therapy (bc we all know that so many of the commercially available diets are lacking)? A huge problem I've noticed is vets that DO attempt to practice alternative therapies WITHOUT that further training. Those situations where a DVM after the name gives license to try whatever is out there because they decide to call it "holistic" can really give a bad connotation to alternative therapies when owners and pets are on the receiving end of a bad outcome due to lack of knowledge on the vet's part. Owners in general are usually not well versed in the alternative methods as it is, and not getting proper info and dealing with a questionable situation can turn them off of that possibility for their pets for good, which is unfortunate to say the least.


  • 10/12/2011 12:37pm

    Good suggestions.
    You are right about the fact that really any health practitioner can use the term "holistic". Yet, I doubt many vets are using it just a marketing plan if they really don't have the knowledge, experience, and training to back it up.
    I can certainly speak for my experience in going through the IVAS course, yet I can't make a comparison to the intricacies of other certifications.
    Dr PM
    Twitter @PatrickMahaney

  • 10/12/2011 08:20pm

    I don't know if it's a marketing plan or not, but quite a few vets in a metropolitan area I live near are practicing holistic modalities without much training, one in particular has become quite popular on radio shows and with his books, yet when you look further he has no formal training in holistic modalities. Marketing ploy or not, administering acupuncture on patients for paying clients after watching a video, or prescribing Chinese herbals without any study, etc. I think is a disservice to the client, patient, and the reputation of holistic practices. Granted it may not be as acutely harmful as a botched surgery or extreme drug reaction, but incorrectly applied acupuncture can cause aggravations as well as incorrectly used herbals. At the very least the pet isn't being appropriately treated and the owner is paying for what is essentially experimentation.

    I'm just saying that perhaps if someone is going to promote holistic veterinary practices, a little background on training and certifications to look for in a holistic vet would be helpful to owners. Most will recognize DVM after the doctor's name, but after that most pet owners wouldn't have any idea what the holistic designations would be. They probably don't even know that there ARE formal training programs and certifications available and that they should inquire about such things with a holistic vet they may be considering.

    Just a thought....

  • 10/13/2011 02:05am

    I'd love to know who this practitioner is! Feel free to correspond with me on Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) if you don't want to reveal the name here.
    I agree that pet owners should inquire as to a vet's credentials should any reason for concern be given.
    A veterinarian can practice acupuncture without being a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA). I know some vets that have gone through acupuncture training and practice the craft despite not having completed their certification (passing exams, completing internship, writing paper, etc). Such is acceptable, as long as they don't mislead a client into believing that they have completed the program.
    Thank you for your valuable input.
    Dr PM
    Twitter @PatrickMahaney

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