Thank you to holistic veterinarian Dr. Jane Laura Doyle, DVM for taking the time to do this interview with us.
You can listen to the recorded version here: Interview with Holistic Veterinarian Jane Laura Doyle, DVM or just click play below.
Or listen to it on YouTube:
You can visit Dr. Doyle's website here.
Here is a transcription of our conversation, if you'd prefer to read:
Jenny of Floppycats: Hi Floppycatters. Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Jane Laura Doyle, who is a vet in West Virginia. Dr Doyle, thanks for joining us today.
Dr. Doyle: It's my pleasure. Thank you.
Jenny: Can you share with me a little bit about your background? I should have mentioned that you are a holistic veterinarian.
Dr. Doyle: That's right, yeah. My practice is mostly homeopathy and nutrition, and I do a few conventional things. I have some minimal vaccination protocols. I do some spays and neuters, wound care, stuff like that.
Jenny: Okay. When I was reading your bio on your website, it said that you graduated in ‘89 from vet school. Did you practice at a regular vet until 1994 when you completed your veterinary homeopathy?
Dr. Doyle: Well, I had a job working for the Hopi Tribe, which was a pretty broad-spectrum kind of veterinary service there. But I did start using homeopathy directly out of veterinary school. I didn't take the class right away because it didn't exist. I took it the second year that it existed. But I started immediately studying homeopathy and going to weekend seminars that Richard Pitcairn gave before the course was developed.
Jenny: Okay. How did you become familiar with homeopathy – just from the courses that Pitcairn was giving?
Dr. Doyle: I became familiar with homeopathy before I ever went to college. I had a few dairy goats, and one of my goats had a chronic problem. I was doing everything that the veterinarian told me to do, and it wasn't helping. She was getting abscesses along her neck. And as soon as one would heal, another one would pop up, and this went on for a couple of months, I guess. It was kind of hard because the treatments were flushing the abscesses, and they were painful abscesses, and giving antibiotic shots, and it just wasn't working.
Dr. Doyle: Then I went to a friend who was dabbling in homeopathy or he was just starting to learn about homeopathy. I didn't have any idea what it was, but somebody said go talk to Joe because he might be able to help you out. Well, sure enough, he gave me a remedy to give the goat. And the abscess that was starting up at the time just stopped, drained, didn't get huge, and she never got another abscess after just one dose.
Dr. Doyle: Now that's not a study, that's just a case.
Dr. Doyle: But it was enough for me to see the difference in effectiveness. And so, after that experience, I was pretty much sold because it heals gently, and it actually cures without just palliating or suppressing.
Jenny: Okay. Well, that helps answer my next question which is what attracted you to homeopathy. Much to my surprise, I've already done one interview with another homeopathic vet. And so, I think how this whole thing started where I was looking to interview holistic vets is because I was speaking to a friend of mine in Australia and she had used one for a kidney disease cat that she had. I think that was the case. Anyway, she sent me all of these Australian vets. And then I thought, well, I should see if there are ones in the United States. So, I did that first interview. And after doing that interview, I looked at homeopathy on Wikipedia and it is not a favorable summary, if you will.
Dr. Doyle: Yeah, the Wikipedia entry for homeopathy is just flat out wrong. So, you can't really count on Wikipedia.
Jenny: No, I have learned that through the years, which is unfortunate. Then when I posted about our interview on our Facebook page, which I've done in the past with other vets that I'm going to interview to see if our readers had any questions, I was also surprised that there were some pretty strong opinions towards homeopathy. So, I wanted to ask if you could comment any about the push-back people have towards it claiming that it’s a hoax and a placebo and all that stuff.
Dr. Doyle: Yes. Yes, well, those are two different issues. Hoaxes and placebos are two different things.
Dr. Doyle: Placebos are an affect. They still work. If a drug works by placebo, it's still working. It's still, an affect.
Dr. Doyle: A hoax is a whole different thing. It's totally understandable why people have a hard time accepting homeopathy because of the nature of the remedies. There's just an infinitesimally small amount or even just the essence of the crude substance that the remedy is made from. And people who are especially materialists who need to have a physical thing and not just an energy thing involved, they have a really hard time getting past that mental block of understanding. Generally, when I have gotten reactions like that about homeopathy, I just point out that it's a very systematic system, but it's not simple. It takes another way of thinking and a lot of study to grasp it and to be able to practice it. And people who have not studied it would do well to not say anything about it because they're talking about something they don't know.
Dr. Doyle: Again, like I say, it's understandable that they have this problem with it because the things that we're using, these nano-particles that are in some of the potencies, are very small and barely detectable if detectable at all. And if we don't have the instrumentation developed scientifically to show what's going on, it's easy to say, oh, there's nothing going on.
Dr. Doyle: But if that was the case, then people who argue that would have to agree that bacteria didn't exist before the invention of the microscope. They did. And they knew that there was something going on, they just couldn't see it. So, yeah, it's just that the science hasn't caught up. Instrumentation hasn't caught up. And there are limitations to science itself actually in the way it's done that make it so that homeopathy, while there is a lot of scientific literature out there showing that it works, it doesn't lend itself easily to the typical double blind kind of study because each prescription is made to the individual.
Jenny: Right. Okay. I don't know if I'm going to restate this correctly, but I just went and saw our acupuncturist here in town. My mom has 15-year-old cats, and we decided to proceed with homeopathy for them for their early stage kidney disease. So, they're going through the sugar pills and all that stuff right now. And I asked our acupuncturist if she was okay with all of that because we had stopped the herbs that she had us on. And she explained to me that homeopathy, how its approach is, like treats like. Whereas in Chinese medicine, it’s the opposite. I don't know how to say it.
Dr. Doyle: Yeah, yeah. With Chinese medicine, you’ll have a situation with excesses or deficiencies, and then you try to stimulate deficiencies or quiet down excesses. And with homeopathy, yeah, it's a completely different approach to a similar affect.
Jenny: Okay. Yeah, and she was totally game for it. She said, absolutely. If this works, great. If it doesn't, let's go back to what we were doing. But anyway, it helped me intellectually understand the difference. So, that's why I wanted to clarify that with you and hopefully for the people listening as well.
Dr. Doyle: Okay.
Jenny: So, homeopathy is just one thing, but it's my understanding that it probably all starts with a good nutritional base. Can you share with us what are your beliefs about nutrition for cats, please?
Dr. Doyle: Well, nutrition for everyone, basically you can't be as healthy as possible if you're not on a good plan of nutrition, whether you're a cat or a human or a dog or a lizard or what.
Dr. Doyle: The remedies can't work without the building blocks of nutrition, just like any allopathic medicine is going to do better if you're on a good plan of nutrition. It’s just, the ability to heal is affected by nutrition.
Jenny: Right. Do you recommend a raw diet for cats or does it depend on the patient?
Dr. Doyle: Well, generally, yeah. One basic cat thing is that really they shouldn't be eating dry food at all.
Dr. Doyle: For a lot of cats, it's not a disaster for them to eat dry food, and they can get by. Cats that do well on dry food are doing well in spite of it, not because of it. So, there's that. And then there are some decent quality canned foods. Cats can be hard to change their diets.
Dr. Doyle: It seems like they learn what food is when they're kittens, so if they're not used to eating a variety of foods, it can be hard to introduce new foods. But it is doable.
Dr. Doyle: If you're going to buy prepared cat foods, quality is very important. You can get some very nice prepared raw foods. And some of the canned foods are okay. But even with canned, I recommend if people can get their cats to eat fresh foods to have some kind of fresh supplementation.
Jenny: Oh, like a liver or something like that?
Dr. Doyle: Like meat, fish, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, Kiefer.
Jenny: Okay. Got It. I have more diet questions a little bit later on, but I think I'm going to try to stay in order, so we'll get to those. I wanted to ask also about your belief towards vaccinations for cats.
Dr. Doyle: Well, vaccinations for cats, again, just like for anybody, you only want to vaccinate for the things that you might be exposed to. So, a 100% indoor cat is going to be exposed to virtually nothing.
Dr. Doyle: Then you don’t really need to vaccinate it. Every state in the United States has a law requiring cats to be vaccinated against rabies, so there is that. I do rabies vaccinations even when they're not necessary because they're legally required, and I know people are going to be getting them. I don't want my patients over vaccinated, so if I do the rabies vaccine, they won't have to go somewhere else for it where they may be pressured into getting more vaccines.
Jenny: Right. Do you have a preference of brand for the rabies vaccination and the year duration?
Dr. Doyle: Well, the longer the duration the better.
Dr. Doyle: Because that's going to reduce your need to revaccinate, which you want to do as little as possible.
Dr. Doyle: And the brands, yeah, I'm not really current on all of the different trends and the different brands. My understanding is that Merial has historically been one of the better brands, but it's been a long time since I looked at that.
Jenny: Okay, that's what I've discovered through these interviews as well. Okay, so I mentioned earlier when we were talking about homeopathy and the Wikipedia thing that I had posted on Facebook about us doing this interview, and readers had questions. I want to get into those, but before we do, I know that your office is located in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. So, people in that area can make an appointment and come to see you there, correct?
Dr. Doyle: Yes.
Jenny: Okay. And for those that are not in the area, you can do telephone consultations?
Dr. Doyle: That's right. Yep. Yep. It's important for those people who are too far to come to maintain a relationship with a local veterinarian because we might need to have a veterinary look at the animal at some point during our treatment. Sometimes we need testing done or imaging, or sometimes if the client isn't able to describe or doesn't know what's going on to tell me, I'll ask them to take it to the local vet and get an assessment.
Dr. Doyle: But otherwise, yeah, it's just done by appointment on the phone. It's billed by time and whatever I ship out.
Jenny: Okay. How does the process work? I obviously, as you know because we discussed before we started the interview, I live in Kansas City. So, if I wanted to consult with you about one of my cats, do you have a questionnaire that you start out with, or what's the process like?
Dr. Doyle: Well, not yet. Generally, what we do is we set up an appointment and we ask you to have the records sent from the local vet.
Dr. Doyle: Usually they're more modern than I am, and they've got everything digital and they can email them to me.
Jenny: Okay. And then will you hop on the phone and go from there?
Dr. Doyle: Yeah. At the appointment time, the client calls here, and we take it from there.
Jenny: Okay. You gave the example of a sheep earlier that you were struggling with, and that's how you got into homeopathy.
Dr. Doyle: That was a goat.
Jenny: Oh, goat, sorry. Obviously, my visualization is poor in my head. I visualized a sheep when you said that. Okay, so a goat. Is that typically how someone ends up contacting you is they're fed up with – their current vet’s recommendations aren't working for that specific animal. Why does someone reach out to you as opposed to their regular vet?
Dr. Doyle: Well, usually if they already have a regular local vet and they're not a local person here, and they're looking for an alternative, yes. Usually that's the way it happens a lot. Of course, the local people come. The number one reason that people choose a veterinarian is location. So, the local people here who come for veterinary care, they might not be looking for holistic or homeopathy, but that's what they get. And they generally are pretty happy with it, and if they don't like that, there are other options for them, and they take them. Let's see, where was I going with that?
Jenny: I had asked what makes someone come to you because they have a goat.
Dr. Doyle: Yeah, they might, I have a problem that they've been struggling with the way I was with that goat. They might have had another pet who was a learning pet for them where they had a bad experience with allopathy, and they've decided to go another path with the new pet. That can happen too.
Jenny: Okay. I wanted to give listeners some ideas as to why they might reach out to a vet on top of their regular vet too is why I asked that question. All right, well, moving into the questions from readers. Shannon asked, “I'd love to hear about proper diet for cats and what helps keep teeth healthy.” And you did already answer about the diet thing.
Dr. Doyle: A natural diet really does help keep the teeth healthy. There are genetic predispositions to tooth problems. A lot of times, you don't know the history of a young cat, how the life started or how the mother's health was during pregnancy – all that stuff affects them too. But generally, a natural diet is good. And then some cats need extra care, and I give them remedies or supplements or both.
Jenny: Okay. I had never thought about that. But of course, that makes sense because in human babies, it’s the same – the mother's nutrition and health during the pregnancy. Yeah.
Dr. Doyle: Absolutely. It's going to affect the health of the offspring. Yeah.
Jenny: Right. Interesting. Okay. Sharon asked, “…interested in what to do or how to prevent urinary problems.”
Dr. Doyle: Urinary problems like this feline lower urinary tract disease where they get these inflammations that are often called infections, and they get prescribed antibiotics usually. And a lot of times, the antibiotics work temporarily because it's a really hot condition, and the antibiotics have a cooling effect. And that's like a Chinese medicine kind of way of thinking about it.
Jenny: Yes. Yes.
Dr. Doyle: Yeah. The reality about lower urinary tract disease both I think in humans and in cats and dogs is that it's almost always triggered by emotional trauma or some kind of emotional upset.
Dr. Doyle: Yeah. Yeah. And so, you can have a cat that gets it again and again and again and again, and it gets to be a real problem, especially if it's a male cat and it gets blocked and it's life threatening. They could end up with a surgery to remove the penis so it can't get obstructed anymore.
Dr. Doyle: But it's still not cured.
Dr. Doyle: So, a nice way to prevent that is to, again, have them on a natural diet. One thing about dry food is that cats tend to go around dehydrated. If they're on dry food, they have a tendency to not drink enough water because they're wired to get their water from their food, which is fresh kill in nature. There's that. You want to keep them off dry food. You want to keep them on the best food possible. You want them to have a nice harmonious life, which we can’t always arrange.
Dr. Doyle: And then if they actually do get it, I've had a lot of profound success treating these with homeopathy.
Jenny: Oh. All right. I have found that when readers write to me about a UTI problem, 99% of the time that cat is on dry food.
Dr. Doyle: There you go.
Jenny: But I didn't know about the emotional trauma connection.
Dr. Doyle: Yep. Yep.
Jenny: All right. Moving on, Linda asked, “Generally, are there any supplements that Dr. Doyle believes cats should be taking on a daily basis for overall health?”
Dr. Doyle: Well, it depends on what their diet's like. If they're eating dry food, yes. If they're eating only canned food, yes. If they're not eating any fresh food, yes. Excuse me, I’ve got to sneeze. Hold on.
Jenny: Bless you.
Dr. Doyle: Thank you. I like the Standard Process supplements. They have a lot of organ targeted supplements, but they do have broad spectrum supplements for cats and dogs called Whole Body Support. Standard Process only sells through healthcare practitioners.
Dr. Doyle: That's the main one I like for non-humans.
Dr. Doyle: I do you have some of my dog patients on a supplement made by Shaklee for joint health. I had such success on that for myself that I started prescribing it for some of my canine patients, and they do really well. But that's not kitties.
Jenny: Well, it's interesting that you say that because both of my cats will be 10 in a month. And I've noticed one kind of has maybe a little arthritis, and I was thinking about Cosequin. But have you tried Shaklee on cats?
Dr. Doyle: No. No, because the delivery system doesn’t work out that well because these are big, huge tablets made for humans.
Jenny: Oh, okay.
Dr. Doyle: So, I can't really even prescribe that for my little dog, like chihuahuas and stuff.
Dr. Doyle: You have to go with other stuff. Again, Standard Process has some very nice joint supplements also.
Dr. Doyle: And I use those. I turn to those for the smaller dogs and the cats.
Jenny: Okay. All right. Linda also asked about raw food diet for cats being, “Does she recommend raw food for cats as ideal? If so, does she have a recipe that she uses for her clients?”
Dr. Doyle: You know, I had a recipe that Richard had come up with and I lost the master copy. But there’s a really good website that I've seen online called catinfo.org.
Jenny: Yes, I’m a big proponent of that.
Dr. Doyle: Are you familiar with that one?
Dr. Doyle: I turn to that a lot when I'm working out what to feed diabetic cats, and it’s helpful to the clients for finding a nice low carb food. If they can't feed raw, then they can go with one of the lower carb canned foods.
Dr. Doyle: I have a couple of diabetic cats here at the clinic, and I have them because they were presented for euthanasia and I don't do just any euthanasia. If they can be treated and saved, I do that. But these clients didn't want to take the cats home, so I ended up keeping them and they're fine. One of them, he'll be 19 this year, and the other one is probably eight or nine years old. And they both eat raw food and neither of them has to take insulin.
Jenny: That's awesome, and good for you for not putting them down for that.
Dr. Doyle: Well, you know, I have to sleep at night too.
Jenny: Yes. I'm trying not to be judgmental right now, so yes. Well, a couple of things – there's another great website if you're not familiar with it. It’s feline-nutrition.org, and they also have raw food recipes and stuff like that, very similar to catinfo.org.
Dr. Doyle: Oh, okay. What’s it called, feline…
Jenny: Feline-nutrition.org. I’ll send it to you via email too so you don't have to go looking for it.
Dr. Doyle: Okay, thanks.
Jenny: Linda said, “If someone can't do raw, what is their next best choice?”
Dr. Doyle: Yeah, some of the higher quality canned foods, I guess…
Dr. Doyle: If they can’t give homemade food.
Jenny: Right. Doctor Lisa Pierson is the one that does catinfo.org. I think she has like a Google Drive spreadsheet of different foods. Have you seen that?
Dr. Doyle: Well, I’ve seen her chart with all the different brands and varieties and the level of carbs that are in there.
Dr. Doyle: But I don't think I've seen everything.
Jenny: Okay. In other words, I'll try to link to that in the transcript of this interview so that if that's helpful to someone, then they can click on that.
Dr. Doyle: Yeah. Yeah.
Jenny: Okay. Okay, so Linda had a lot of questions. Her next one was, “What does her vaccination protocol look like? Does Dr. Doyle use homeopathic…” okay, I don't know how to say this word, “…nosodes…”
Dr. Doyle: Nosodes.
Jenny: “…nosodes for pets?” What is a nosode?
Dr. Doyle: A nosode is a homeopathic remedy that's made from a specific disease product.
Dr. Doyle: So, for instance, if you were going to make a common cold nosode, you would get some of the virus laden mucus and make a remedy from that – okay, the idea being that the nosodes can help prevent disease in other individuals who have been exposed. People use nosodes in a lot of ways that they really aren't designed for. But the way that I use them, especially I do have clients who don't want vaccines, and so we might use if they find that their pet was exposed to some disease that they are certain they were exposed to, we would give a nosode to prevent that pet from getting the disease or to make it so that when they do get it, it's not as severe.
Dr. Doyle: I rarely use nosodes. Those situations just don't come up that much.
Dr. Doyle: Most people do want vaccines, and most people are very happy to hear that they don't need all the vaccines that they have been told they need. So, with cats, I only do the rabies shot. I don't do any of the other shots. And I do them at four months. And the law in West Virginia is that the first shot is good for a year, and after that they have to be every three years.
Jenny: Oh. Man, that's better than Kansas or Missouri.
Dr. Doyle: And I'm not the rabies police. I use a three-year product for everybody. And if people don't come to get them boosted, I still know they're protected for longer than what the law requires.
Jenny: Yes. Okay. Litter recommendations…
Dr. Doyle: Plain clay.
Jenny: What’s that?
Dr. Doyle: Plain clay, non-clumping, non-scented. That’s what I like best.
Jenny: And is plain clay a clumping clay or no?
Dr. Doyle: No. No, no, no, no.
Dr. Doyle: I’m not crazy about the clumping stuff.
Jenny: Can you share why?
Dr. Doyle: Well, because it clumps. It gets on their feet and clumps and little kittens eat it and get intestinal obstructions and it's just really awful. So, yeah, especially bad for smaller kittens. But yeah, if a cat's not feeling well, especially some of these older cats who can't get around as well and they might have a wet paw and they step in there and they're walking around with clumped litter on their foot and they don't clean it off and then they end up with a sore and it's just a mess. I just don't like it.
Jenny: Okay. I like someone that has a strong opinion because I'm the same way. And I'm asking this just to see if you've had experience in your practice with this. She said, “I like to be environmentally conscious, but I won't use things like World's Best Cat Litter or Sweat Scoop because both are grain-based from conventional GMO grain, and all grain is subject…”
Dr. Doyle: Right. That's a valid concern. Any GMO grain is going to be laden with glyphosate, which is poisoning us everywhere.
Dr. Doyle: If you're eating any grain that's not organic that's GMO, you're getting a big dose of that poison...
Dr. Doyle: …in all the grain. They even spray it on it right before they harvest.
Jenny: That’s good info for me to have as well because I get lots of questions about those two kinds of cat litter. All right. Linda’s last little paragraph, she said, “I would also be curious to her view of using essential oils around the house with cats, either diffusing or in cleaning. I know some vets say it's okay, but others, including some animal aroma therapist, that say no way.” Okay, she lists specifics, but I'll keep that.
Dr. Doyle: Yeah. With essential oils, you just need to make sure that the ones that you're using are safe for cats. Essential oils are very strong. Oops, somebody just walked in. Hang on just a second. Oh, okay, they came in and they left. All right. Where was I?
Jenny: Essential oils.
Dr. Doyle: Oh, essential oils?
Jenny: Yeah, safe for cats.
Dr. Doyle: Yeah, they’re very strong. Essential oils are very strong if they’re not diluted. So, you want to make sure that if you're using anything around cats that they're safe for cats because cats are much more sensitive to chemicals and things, and you know, essential oils are chemicals. They're more sensitive too than the rest of us because their livers are different.
Jenny: Okay. Is there a way to know if they're safe or not? How do you even approach that?
Dr. Doyle: I would get with a veterinarian who’s well-versed in essential oils for animals.
Jenny: Okay. Do you know of one?
Dr. Doyle: That’s not me. I know of one. Let me see, I might be able to pull up her website.
Jenny: I can also get it from you later if you’d like and then include it in the interview.
Dr. Doyle: Okay, however. Let me see if I could find it here. Google search. Ads first. There's Dr. Axe who I don't know who that is – [inaudible 00:33:17] essential oils in animals, found animals, let’s see. Oh, apparently the Poison Help Line knows about it.
Jenny: Okay. When I send you the feline nutrition thing, I'll ask if that vet's name that you know of rings a bell.
Dr. Doyle: Okay. I just found it – Animal EO.
Jenny: Oh, okay, Melissa Shelton?
Dr. Doyle: Is that her name? Yes.
Jenny: Okay, that's what Linda had said in what she wrote, so I should have thrown that out there.
Dr. Doyle: That’s the one that I've seen before. I don't know her personally. I don't know anything about her except that she's doing this, and I have never heard anything bad about it either.
Jenny: Okay. Perfect. All right. The last one is from Tammy and it's rather long, but I'm going to read the whole thing because I don't know how to shorten it.
Dr. Doyle: Okay.
Jenny: “My question relates to senior cats and what to do to be proactive about catching diseases or illnesses that can be fatal if not caught early enough that can possibly be treated and extend a quality life with early intervention. What bloodwork and other testing should be done? I recently read, by the time you notice your pet's health declining, it's likely decomposition, and an ultrasound of organs can be helpful. So, anything along the lines of being proactive versus reactive to clarify rather than assuming that everything is okay because your kitty seems fine? What can I do to be proactive in managing the health of my kitty with respect to testing diagnostics and at what frequency?”
Dr. Doyle: I would say as they get older, it's a good idea to get baseline blood work to assess the organ function, especially liver and kidney. And they can also assess especially if you're on a homemade diet or something and you're not quite sure if you're on the right track. the electrolytes can be run and the protein, all that stuff. And as they age, once they start getting older, I would do that every year. There's one called STMA that can test for very early kidney failure, which is a better time to do something about it. So, yeah, mostly blood work. If you have questions about specific organs, like if there might be a problem with the liver or the urinary bladder or the gallbladder, then yeah, ultrasound can help with that for sure.
Jenny: Okay. My cats, I take them to an all cat vet, and I think that they start doing baseline blood work if they don't need a dental because if they need a dental, then that’s started way before. But if they don't need a dental, it doesn't start until seven. Is that about the age you would?
Dr. Doyle: That sounds reasonable, yeah.
Jenny: Okay. Okay. Well, those are all the questions that I have for you. Is there anything that you wanted to comment on that I cut you off on or anything like that?
Dr. Doyle: I don't think so.
Jenny: Okay. Well, thank you very much for taking the time today.
Dr. Doyle: Well, you're welcome.
Jenny: I'm pretty excited about just what I learned about the grain-based litters and also the Standard Process Whole Body, so on a personal level, thank you.
Dr. Doyle: You're welcome. I'm happy to help. It's why I do what I do.
Jenny: All right. Well, thank you again, and hopefully we can do this again soon.
Dr. Doyle: Okay.
Dr. Doyle: You're welcome. Thanks for having me.
Jenny: You're welcome. Bye.
Dr. Doyle: Bye.