All Natural Advertising for Alternative Veterinary Medicine

I couldn’t resist passing along this little gem. A veterinarian named Dr. Margo Roman, who practices and advocates for the usual hodgepodge of alternative veterinary therapies, has a project called Dr. DoMore which is focused on producing DVD “documentaries” (a.k.a. one-sided propaganda films) to promote alternative veterinary medicine. As a fund raiser for this project, she has created the 2011 Dr. ShowMore Calendar. This “educational and entertaining” calendar features “au natural” photographs of holistic veterinarians demonstrating alternative procedures or approaches. Or as the cover of the calendar puts it, “Veterinarians naturally expose options.” Really, what else is there to say?

I can’t actually recommend buying the calendar, though as a novelty item it is tempting, since the proceeds fund what looks, by the preview, to be an egregious misinformation campaign. But I do have to admire the creativity and communications savvy of the folks involved. I think it’s high time we had a Sexy Skeptics Calendar, don’t you!?

**A reader has already informed me that I’m late to the party, and that a Sexy SKeptics calendar to fund Skepticon 3 already exists. Enjoy!

http://skepticon.org/shop/

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24 Responses to All Natural Advertising for Alternative Veterinary Medicine

  1. ellen says:

    it may be a novel concept for a veterinary calendar, but there’s probably a reason it hasn’t been done before — it’s unprofessional. i think the calendar is in poor taste and reflects poor judgment.

    i believe that doctors/veterinarians should comport themselves in a manner consistent with the high standards of the medical profession.

    just sayin’.

    ellen

  2. ellen says:

    i think the “monthly doos” poop calendars are far more creative. lol

    http://monthlydoos.com/Doos/

    ellen

  3. skeptvet says:

    Already a reader has pointed out that the Sexy Skeptics Calendar idea has already been taken. Not specifically veterinary medicine centered, but a good cause nonetheless.

    http://skepticon.org/shop/

  4. v.t. says:

    If firefighters can do it, so can veterinarians. The best ones are those that depict a story, au natural not necessary. Of course my favorites are those depicting firemen saving pets 🙂

    There are a million scenarios that veterinarians could depict, I’m not sure I’d want to see any of them sans clothes though, any more than I’d want to see my physician.

    Not having seen the altie calendar, I’d wager it depicts something along the lines of holistic bliss – colorful herbs and potions, fields of daisies, maybe even fairies in the sky – which of course is anything but in the real world of vet med. Creative, maybe. Worth 20 bucks, doubtful.

  5. ellen says:

    v.t., as skeptvet pointed out, many holistic veterinarians are involved in non-mainstream religions/faiths (pantheism, buddhism, scientology, etc.), so i wouldn’t be surprised if some were practicing nudists too. 🙂

  6. ellen says:

    holistic vet fee structures

    “An initial chronic disease patient’s bill can range between $300.00-700.00, depending on the treatment required. More difficult cases, (i.e cancer ) may go above $700.”
    http://mashvet.com/services/mash-fee-schedule

    “Telephone Consult, initial consult – Up to 60 minutes – Dr. Goldstein -$420”
    (this doc is a few years old, so the fees are probably higher now)
    http://sumentnipr.com/1eqchh

    “Our consultation fees for initial Intake Visit: $375.00. This fee also includes time spent doing a comprehensive homeopathic computer analysis of your animal’s case before, during or after your intake appointment.
    FEES FOR DISPENSING REMEDIES (after the first visit)
    Envelopes – $20.00/per envelope
    Liquid (LM potencies and other potencies)
    One ounce bottle with dropper – $40.00/ per bottle”
    http://snipr.com/1eqjqf

    wow. some holistic vets sure do know how to pad a bill. :o) i took my dog to a *board-certified specialist* and it didn’t cost nearly this much!

  7. skeptvet says:

    And yet, in the Dr.DoMore video, they claim science-based medicine is all about economics but alternative medicine is “a labor of love.”

    Thanks for bringing this info to light.

  8. ellen says:

    fixed broken link:
    “Telephone Consult, initial consult – Up to 60 minutes – Dr. Goldstein -$420?
    (this doc is a few years old, so the fees are probably higher now)
    http://tinyurl.com/2f4ag24

    so why are holistic vets more expensive than traditional vets? are they savvier marketers? do they cater to clientele with more money than sense? seems to me that they should be cheaper than traditional vets because they offer unproven products and treatments.

  9. Rita says:

    “so why are holistic vets more expensive than traditional vets? are they savvier marketers? do they cater to clientele with more money than sense? seems to me that they should be cheaper than traditional vets because they offer unproven products and treatments.”

    – I think Freud had this concept nailed, and for very similar reasons.

    A propos calendars, it may just be that alternative practitioners are more sexy than mainstream vets……

    😉

  10. Alison says:

    In the UK you don’t have to be a vet to do alternative therapies at least with horses, partly because it is legal for non-vets to practice physical therapies (as long as they have the vet’s permission) and partly because a lot of practitioners and owners seem to be prepared to break the law in order to give their horses the treatments they want them to have. The CAM practitioners are almost universally cheaper than the vets and this accounts in large part for their popularity. That and the fact that they spend longer with their clients, and tell the owner appealing fairy tales about their horses’ bodies, minds and spirits. I kid you not. But people do think they’re getting more for their money from the CAM persons than from their vets, so for many equine problems the vet tends to be the last resort rather than the first.

    I once knew a woman who trained as an equine osteopath in France. In her final year she worked on horses at a local yard for a nominal fee to cover expenses. When she qualified, and announced that the price would thereafter be 4X euros rather than X euros per session, the horses’ owner told her not to bother as she would get another student instead.

    Having said that, the most popular ‘back man’ in these parts is also the most expensive. Local gossip suggests that people choose him because of this: that if he charges more than others, it’s because he does a better job. Whether or not this is true he is certainly the most theatrical, though as far as I know he doesn’t take his clothes off. Not that anybody in their right mind would do anything to a horse while unclothed. It would frighten the horses, apart from anything else.

  11. ellen says:

    “A propos calendars, it may just be that alternative practitioners are more sexy than mainstream vets……”

    rita, maybe they should call it “2011 Dr. Show (Me) More (Money) Calendar.”

    “Not that anybody in their right mind would do anything to a horse while unclothed. It would frighten the horses, apart from anything else.”

    so true, alison! lol while looking at the sample photos from the altvet calendar, that thought occurred to me too…especially the photos of the naked vet and the horse and the naked vet and the chicken (i wouldn’t put my bare breasts anywhere near a chicken’s beak and talons!!!). rotflmao

  12. skeptvet says:

    I’m not sure that CAM practitioners are more expensive in general, but again it depends a lot on what kind of care you’re talking about. I recently had a case of a dog wit a foreign object that perforated his intestine who came in nearly dead of septic peritonitis. Two surgeries and 2 weeks in the hospital and he went hoe well (almost a miracle), but he also had a US$14,000 bill.

    On the other hand, a healthy animal may be seen annually for an exam and consltation about health maintenance, which costs all of $65. However, most CAM practitioners sell their therapies as necessary for ongoing health, so if your animal is not sick you will spend a lot more having regular treatments/”adjustments” and so on to supposedly keep them healthy than you will spend on scientific preventative care, which is mostly just advice about proper diet, exercise, weight management, and vaccinations.

    Alison is, sadly, correct in that many CAM clients seem to feel they are getting more for their money with alternative treatment. What they are getting is the psychological and emotional support of practitioners who spend a lot of time with them, talk a lot about vague but positive things like “wellness,” and give them the impression that nothing is ever unavoidable or happens by chance but that they can control their pet’s wellbeing by doing everything “right” (i.e. as the practitioner tells them). They are paying for therapies that either don’t do anything or that might or might not do anything (depending on the approach used), so in reality they are getting fairy tales for their money, but fairy tales are often more comforting than facts, especially when the facts are unpleasant.

    Oh, and Rita–I won’t ask what “evidence” you have for the relative sex appeal of science-based and alternative veterinarians! I’m willing to do a lot for the cause of evidence-based medicine, but I don’t see myself getting naked with a chicken any time soon! 😉

  13. Alison says:

    And not just fairy tales: many CAM practitioners (not just the pet psychics) deliberately use cold-reading techniques to make the owners think that they have remarkable powers of insight and understanding.

    Another sad consequence of all this is that it makes science-based vets, who really do care deeply and passionately about their patients but who stick to the biological facts, seem cold and distant by comparison.

    It’s all to do with marketing as you say: nobody’s horse actually *needs* these CAM treatments, so the practitioners have to persuade people that they *want* them. Real vets don’t have to go to such lengths to sell themselves.

    Oh – and people who really do have sex appeal don’t need to take their clothes off to prove it.

  14. Rita says:

    Well, as for evidence, I can only say: produce it and we’ll judge 😉 😉 😉

  15. so why are holistic vets more expensive than traditional vets? >>>

    because people will pay more for what they want than they will for what they need
    art malernee dvm

  16. Margo says:

    Please look at the calendar and the information that it presents. Many of the facts about physical exams are very standard for all veterinary exams. Discussing reasons for good dental care is so important as it is a reflection of the bodies health as well. Being a good practitioner that looks at all options and keeps open to all possibilities is what a doctor should be doing. If those possibilities are outside the typical veterinary school training and they will help your patient become more healthy one should try them.
    The photographs that were taken of both male and female veterinarians were very discreet, artistic, beautiful and with humor. To have someone take time from their busy lives and read and smile and perhaps learn something that may help them care for their pet or perhaps themselves great… We have sold over 1500 and funds will go to veterinary student scholarship to assist in CE. It will also fund the filming educational documentaries with medical references in many areas of veterinary care.
    So if you would like actually see it and decide that the calendar has or does not have value you can order one at http://www.drshowmore.org

  17. Sally says:

    Holistic vets are ‘more expensive’ than conventional vet because they do not make the huge mark up on vaccines and medications (one conventional pill of thyroid meds is $1-2, but costs the vet no more than $.02, if that). There is alot of scientific evidence to support alternative medicine, (and it has been around hundreds of years before conventional was invented, and yes it was invented). The only reason there are not double blind studies, is because the pharmaceutical companies wont fund them like they do chemical medicines. Because if they did, they would lose a huge amount of money.

    On the matter of the calendars, I think it is a wonderful idea. I have seen too many vet’s who think they are so much better than us ‘regular’ people just because they have a degree. They have their noses stuck up in the air, and won’t bother even explaining the side effects of these medications and vaccines (and yes, there are side effects). It is great to see vets who are regular people, like me. They seem to be having so much fun too. Not being a stick in the mud. (I couldn’t even get my vet to smile.)

    You seem to be on a witch hunt here. How much time have you actually spent observing at an alternative practice before you made this decision that all vets who don’t seem to be under the mind control of the pharmaceutical companies, are bad? (Did you know that the only nutrition that vets are taught in school, is which bag of science diet to feed? Not the importance of actual nutrition.) What is your close and personal experience in alternative medicine that is basing this, what seems to be unjustified, non-supported, biased and snap judgement? Hmm?

    Integrative vets have gone through the same schools as conventional vets, they just have gone above and beyond that schooling, to study for many more years to learn the ‘Alternative’ modalities. Conventional medicine is not all bad. It is just over-used and mis-used sometimes. Just like with humans, the center of our health is nutrition. If I eat McDonalds and prepackaged foods all the time, I would be as unhealthy as animals are there days. (Bagged food was not introduced until the war, because they needed a cheap food for their animals to eat. Before that, they ate what ever the families were eating.) With nearly half of all dogs passing from cancer, the cancer rate in cats nearly doubling since the distemper vaccine was made a yearly thing, I think we need to look beyond the blinders that were placed on our faces. We don’t have to be one extreme or the other. We need to all come together for the health of our animals, and our own health.

    This type of aggression, stress and hate is extremely unhealthy for us. High blood pressure and heart attacks to name a few.

  18. skeptvet says:

    This Comment is far too full of falsehoods, cliches, and misconceptions for me to have the time to refute each one in detail. Fortunately, most of them have already been addressed in this blog. The nonsense about conventional btw being tools of the pharmaceutical and pet food industries and the mistaken notion that one canno see the flaws in a medical approach without having personally practiced it oneself have both had several posts devoted to them. As for hate, I suggest you read my posts, which are about how to figure out what is best for our patients and avoid what doesn’t help them, and then you read the angry personal insults often written in response. I’m afraid I’m not the one with the anger problem.

  19. skeptvet says:

    There may very well be sound advice in the calendar, I can’t view it without contributing money to the cause for which it was created. That I am not willing to do because the sample available on the web site of the kind of “documentary”‘and education the calendar is intended to promote, which I have watched in detail and in it’s entirety, is a depressing collection of falsehoods and lies about conventional medicine married to piles of silly and untrue theories and fairy tales about illness and health. As I have stated, I have no objection to the idea of such a calendar as a fundraising or promotional device, but the ideas this one is promoting are mostly fundamentally bad ideas, even if there is some reasonable advice mixed in. Again, I encourage everyone interested to watch the video. Most of the tired alternative medicine cliches collected in it have already been the subject of posts here, and will undoubtedly be again.

  20. Sally says:

    Seeing as you completely skirted around my question, I will ask you again. Because I am interested and want to know where you are coming from…. How much personal experience do you actually have in the alternative field to back up your findings here? I am one of those people who will not pass judgement until I actually experience something for myself. I will not say that I am completely against something until I do the research, in person, and find without a doubt that I do not agree with it. Not just by reading something, but by experiencing it first hand. My cat was given a death sentence by my conventional vet. He was in severe kidney failure and I was told that if I did not put him down right away, that he would be dead within a month. That was not a good enough answer for me. I switched to a holistic vet, and it has been 3 years, and all his values have returned back to normal.

    I also have a question about something that has been kind of bothering me. Who are you really? You hide behind this website, but apparently won’t tell us who you actually are. Are you afraid to put your name behind something you obviously feel so strong about? I have looked all over your website and cannot find anything about where you practice, or any insite about who you really are. Are you a man? Are you a woman? How long have you been practicing? What kind of facilites have you practiced in? Have you worked in emergency clinics? Do you own your own small practice? Do you work on large or small animals? Have you actually seen the scientific research on ‘alternative’ medicine? Have you tried it out on your patients to see if they actually work? Have you observed at a pratice that treats with these modalities to see for yourself that they don’t work? You claim to have an open mind. Have you opened your mind to the possibility that these treatments might actually work? Maybe if you spent sometime in an alternative practice, you might see things a little differently.

  21. Margo says:

    If you look at the newest version of the Dr.DoMore preview documentary located on the mashvet.com site we have several very conventional but open minded veterinarians speaking out. Perhaps you should watch that one and while you are there please listen to the Song ” I will care for you” written by one of my clients Joy Gora and then the time you spend watching will have even more meaning.
    In response to the cost of my appointments. More than 70 percent of the dispensed materials that the pet caretaker is purchasing are nutritional supplements that hopefully will correct the animals medical issues for weeks and months and therefore they will not need any additional medication. Food and nutrition has a cost and depending on the size and needs of that individual animal costs will vary.
    I know you will enjoy the calendar and if you really are so against veterinary student scholarship I can have you donate your check to any humane organization.. We do a lot of work for Save-a -dog and you could write a check to them and that would be fine too. We just did an urethrostomy on a completely blocked male schnauzer Monty for them and could use some help raising some funds to help with the surgery costs.

  22. I think it’s noble to raise money for good causes, but might there be a cost to the credibility of holistic veterinary medicine for going in this direction?

    I haven’t yet witnessed a positive reaction in response to the calendar.

    I sense instead a sort of vicarious embarrassment.

    Were other options considered?

  23. skeptvet says:

    You do a really remarkable job of completely missing the point.

    1) it makes no difference whether I have personally tried the methods I write about because personal experience is not a reliable guide to whether something is true or works or not. I have certainly tried some therapies that the evidence has since shown not to be useful (such as glucosAmine for arthritis). But the final verdict about them should nit be whether or not they seem to work but whether they can be reliably shown to work by objective methods. Humility is acknowledging that our personal impressions are fallible and untrustworthy and that scientific study is more reliable. It is misguided and arrogant to think, as so many alternative practitioners do, that your personal experience and judgement is so acute that it should be trusted and followed regardless of what the objective evidence says. Such an attitude is why science has improved medicine and the length and quality of our lives more in two hundred years than thousands of years of traditional folk medicine ever did.

    2) It doesn’t matter who I am. My ideas and arguments should be judged on their own strengths and weaknesses, not on the basis of whatever prejudices you may have about me as a person. Am I more likely to be right if I am a woman or a man? Does my analysis of the scientific research suddenly become more or less accurate if you suddenly discover where I went to school, where I practice, or what color I am? These are irrelevant facts that people use to distract from the points I make rather than deal with them directly.

    3) An open mind means not deciding if something is true or false until one fairly evaluates the evidence for or against it. You seem to think that because I evaluate this evidence fairly and then ultimately decide something you believe in isn’t true that I must not have an open mind. But I bet if someone looked at the same idea and immediately decided to believe it without asking for proof you would congratulate them on their open mindedness. Why is it so many proponents of alternative medicine think open-mindedness means agreeing with them and that disagreeing with them is a sign of ignorance or closed mindedness? Is it so uncomfortable that you might be wrong that the very notion you are is automatic evidence of closed mindedness?

    It takes all of 5 seconds to find out all you want to know about me on the Internet, but I cannot imagine that I could have any cm inaction of demographic characteristics that would make you at all open minded to my arguments. Edzard Ernst spent decades as a practicing homeopath and was a professor of complementary and alternative medicine at a major university. And yet when je realized he had been wrong about the value of most alternative therapies and began to argue that they should be held to the same standards of evidence as scientific medical practices, did people of your point of view say, “wow, this guy really knows what he’s talking about, maybe I need to question my beliefs a little more?” No chance. He has been almost universally pilloried and personally attacked as viciously as Simon Singh, Stephen Barrett, or any other person in medicine with the temerity to question the sacred cows of CAM. Based on your comments so far, I have no reason to think I would receive any better treatment regardless of my sex, age, skin color, education, area of practice, or any similarly irrelevant personal facts.

    Sent from my iPhone

  24. Sally says:

    I think you are the one missing the point here.
    If you have had extensive experience in an alternative field, and I don’t mean trying one glucosamine product on one patient for a short period of time (I’m sure the first time a vaccine or drug was used, it didn’t work 100%), but months, if not years in an alternative field, and you still found that it did not work…. I would commend you for having an open mind and actually trying it. But you seem to be putting down every modality without experiencing it for yourself. Have you tried every modality to validate everything you write about? You can’t write about acupuncture and say it doesn’t work, if you have not followed a case from begining to end, with an experienced vet doing it… and found that it did not work. I should actually say several cases, because not all medications work on all patients everytime, as I have stated. I say experienced vet because I would not want some joe shmo from off the street with no degree treating my animal conventionally. Just as I would not want a conventional vet to treat my animal alternatively with no knowledge, training or experience. Yes our lives have been elongated by conventional medicine, thats why there is soooooo much cancer and other serious diseases out there. (Note the sarcasm) That’s why when someone is diagnosed with cancer, and they are put on chemo, they are told to change their diet, because certain foods can alleviate symptoms, and other foods can make the cancer become more aggressive. Is marijuanna concidered ‘folk’ medicine? Because you can get a prescription for it when you have cancer, because it can settle your stomach due to the side effects of chemo.

    Your sex, race or religion does not make your point any more or less. However, if your name is now or ever was associated with a pharmacuedical company or commercial dog food company, it would make a huge difference. Then your blog would seem to have been based on an ulterior motive, from a biased stand point. One of your followers seems to think that all alternative practioners are buddists or some other non-mainstream religion. What does that have to do with how someone practices? There are plenty of conventional vets who follow non-mainstream religions. And there are plenty of alternative practitioners that are catholic or jewish or some other ‘mainstream’ religion. That statement was completely out of line, seeing how all religion, mainstream or not, is based on faith, not science. And your blog states that you base everything on science alone. Can I safely assume that you sent her a personal email regarding this, since you feel so strongly about the possibility of me judging you on your sex or the color of your skin, and that it goes completely against your science based blog?

    You are right. Having an open mind does not mean you have to agree with everything someone tells you, alternative or conventional. It does however mean judging something for yourself, experiencing something for yourself, and then after fairly making assesments on both ends to determine what is more or less effective. But again, you said you have no experience in the alternative field, which does mean you cannot fairly make any assesment towards alternative medicine. I have no problem being wrong about something, as long as you can show me the evidence, not just on paper, but in clinical evidence as well. (If you do acupuncture on a dog that is having great difficulty walking, and then is jumping around after the treatment, I am going to believe that the treatment was a success.) Because there are many drugs and vaccines that were deamed unsafe after clinical evaluations were made (ie, severe or minor reactions after being released to the public. ie….cocane) Most people drink orange juice when they are getting or have a cold. Which means they are taking vitamin C to alleviate their symptoms. Or they eat grandma’s homemade chicken soup to get the vitamins and nutrients to strengthen their immune system. Would you advise someone not to do this because there is no technical data saying that it works, or that it could be concidered ‘folk’ medicine? If I eat McDonalds everyday, does that mean I am just as healthy as someone who follows a fresh food diet with fruits and veggies?

    I think your problem is not that there is no evidence saying that alternative medicine works, but the fact that you have your fingers in your ears like a little kid saying lalala I can’t hear you. When you live your life with blinders on, you miss out on alot.

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