As a practicing veterinarian, I am personally and professionally devoted to promoting real, beneficial medical therapies for companion animals, and to discouraging those approaches that have not proven to be safe or effective, or that may even be harmful. I strive for true open-mindedness, but I believe all medical practices must be open to critique and must be validated by reliable science, not merely tradition, intuition, opinion, or anecdote. In this blog I will be addressing the broad range of philosophical, ethical, economic, legal, political, and most of all scientific issues raised by complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), particularly as it is applied to veterinary medicine.


79 Responses to About

  1. skeptvet says:

    I’m glad the blog is useful for you!

  2. Mike Lehrer says:

    I just acquired a 7 week old black lab from a breeder in Minnesota. He guaranteed
    his dogs for progressive retinal atrophy, hip and elbow dysplasia for 25 months.
    He also recommended using NuVet Plus tablets as a supplement, but not as a condition
    for his guarantee.
    After reading your article, I’m not sure if using NuVet would be wise. I would appreciate your guidance.
    Mike L.

  3. skeptvet says:

    Well, as I say in the article, there is virtually no information to support claims of safety or effectiveness, and I don’t generally recommend supplements that haven’t been scientifically tested in any real way. Whether they will cause any problems is just as unclear as whether they might have some benefits, but it is certainly not necessary to provide such supplements to have a healthy dog.

  4. Sue Jaske says:

    I have a Schnazer that is 10, she has CHF and a enlarged heart, would Protandim help her?

  5. skeptvet says:

    There is no research evidence at all to suggest Protandim would be helpful for your dog. If you have not already done so, I would suggest consulting a veterinary cardiologist.

  6. Sue Jaske says:

    My dog already takes up to 6 Lasix a day and a heart pill am and pm and she does this coughing sound like she is choking, Vet says it’s because of her CHF, what do you thing? Would the Protandim help her?

  7. skeptvet says:

    Sorry, but as I discuss in my article about Protandim there is no good reason to believe it is helpful for any condition in dogs.

  8. Matt says:

    I just watched Pet Fooled. It is very convincing. Here’s my problem: Becker basically starts the whole thing by saying no one really knows because there isn’t enough research.

    To me, that causes every single argument that follows – for or against whatever – to fall apart, instantly. How can you advise anyone anything if you don’t have research to back it?

    When I first arrived at this website I thought it was a classic debunking site, which are often just as convincing. Then I started reading the articles. I am not any closer to knowing what I should feed my dog, but this site looks like it has some useful information and some actual science.

    Thanks for this site.

  9. skeptvet says:

    While there are, of course, gaps in our knowledge about pet nutrition, and no on can determine the optimal diet for any individual pet, Dr. Becker is wildly wrong about almost everything else. We actually have decades of nutritional research that veterinary nutritionists use to formulate pet diets, and Dr. Becker ignores almost all of it. Instead, she substitutes her intuition and personal beliefs about what is “natural” and “toxic” and so on, beliefs based on evidence that is poor quality, misinterpreted, or non-existent. Pet Fooled represents a narrow, ideologically driven bit of propaganda that ignores almost all the extensive scientific information about nutrition in favor of conspiracy theories about the pet food industry and unreliable, anecdotal beliefs about nutrition.

    If you want reliable, science-based discussion of issues in pet nutrition, the book Dog Food Logic is a much better resource. Or you could find a veterinary nutritionist, a highly trained specialist in pet nutrition who knows a lot more than I or Dr. Becker do about the subject.

  10. Bobbie says:

    I have been reading about CBD (cannabidiol) as a possible treatment for seizures in dogs. There does not appear to be a whole lot of research/information as to how well it treats dogs with epileptic seizures. Can you provide any insight on this subject. There appears to be a number of sites sell dog biscuits lace with CBD.

  11. skeptvet says:

    Here is what I’ve written about marijuana and cannabis-based products for pets. There is essentially no clinical research in dogs, so every use of these products is a guess based on human research or anecdote. And, unfortunately, there is no regulation or quality control for cannabis products aimed at veterinary patients, so you really do roll the dice with each one. I hope the growing interest and decreasing stigma spur the research we need to find out what these compounds will ultimately be good for, but right now everybody seems to want to sell them, but we have little real evidence to go on.

  12. Kelsey says:

    I am so glad I found this site. Keep it up! Many more clients asking about ‘Veterinary naturopaths’ these days.

    – a concerned DVM student

  13. stephanie piazzese says:

    I have been giving my 12 yr old dog Nzymes for about two months. The reason i looked for alternative treatment for him is because his VET treated him for his chronic scratching and itching skin with Aquapel, which she raved about. Told me how she gives it to her own dog, it’s SO SAFE, it is so good. At $70 per refill, i thought she would allow him to continue. nothing else worked this well. He had relief for the first time his whole life. Then, suddenly, she will not refill for him. She says “well you know, he has that yeast problem….” yes, i know, and it is never over. so, now we are done with her, as she let me down so hard. The antibiotics treated the yeast..then, the itching returns. i am going to continue the Nzymes till i know for myself. I do not trust the Vets now.

  14. skeptvet says:

    It’s always unfortunate when a vet doesn’t communicate well or makes decisions or recommendations that don’t seem to make sense. That said, giving up on veterinary medicine and trusting a random company on the internet selling something with no real scientific evidence behind it isn’t a better choice. I would encourage you to look for another vet you feel you can work better with. Ideally, if your pet has skin problems, I would look for a veterinary dermatologist near you.

  15. Daisy Crowder says:

    Wonderful site! My dog has perianal fistula and I belong to a yahoo group. Yesterday someone was promoting the food tolerance test by Jean Dodd. Sounded totally bogus.
    Glad to see your paper confirms my impressions.
    PS. I went to UCSC to, BA, MA, PhD, all biology

  16. Mike Benton says:

    We recently relocated to a small town with only two vet offices nearby. We bailed from the first practice for several reasons, one being the repeated use of cold laser for everything from sore hips to post-op wound healing in our dogs. A neurologist friend suggested their use was totally bogus, and my own experience as a Ph.D. biologist in vert. A&P made me tend believe he was probably right. Have there been any science-based studies on the effects, if any, of cold laser treatment in veterinary settings? I didn’t see any posts on this subject in your blog history. Thanks.

  17. Elizabeth Hunter says:

    Dear Skepvet: five years into our cancer fight (my 13 y/o Shepherd elkhound has perianal adenocarcinoma the vet calls it), I have tried various alternative therapies, as well as mainstream surgical mass removals and chemo (chlorambucil and doxycycline). The tumours are now open outside the skin and ulcerated. We are now in palliative care mode. I frantically try to find yet another “cure”, and have read dozens of suggestions from well meaning folks on pet cancer internet boards/pages. The temptation is to chase another cure; spend more money and hope. I am actually grateful for your blog because it has given me the justification to just stop frantically chasing and cherish the time I have left with my boy. It was terrifying me to believe there was a cure out there I hadn’t found that could’ve saved my dog. But your intelligent, rational, logical, and well articulated blogs (especially on bloodroot – my search into info on that led me to your site) give me a much needed sense of peace. Our vet is a wonderful person: caring, professional, and ethical – she puts Indie’s well-being forefront. I trust her that she’s done all that can be done for our boy, in our region, with our financial resources, and most importantly that has been substantiated with scientific evidence. I just needed to hear it from a stranger, that these CAMs other people are insisting will cure my dog have not been proven scientifically. So thank you. I can now cease the chase and begin to accept that there is nothing else we can do except keep Indie comfortable and enjoy our time left with him. PS – I’m sorry you get hate mail. I admire your courage to stick to your passion and perspective despite the ugly things hurting and angry people say. Keep up the good work finding the evidence for those of us who don’t know how to and rely on objective quantifiable fact based evidence.

  18. skeptvet says:

    I am sorry you and your companion have had to go through this experience. As someone who has lost pets to cancer, I understand how difficult it is. And as a vet who treats cancer patients every day, I know how hard it is to when treatment is in the best interests of the patient and when it is time to accept our limitations and focus on comfort and a peaceful goodbye. I am glad you have a caring vet to work with and that you have found something here useful. Take care.

  19. Elizabeth hunter says:

    Thank you. Your reply has done more good than you may realize. ?? Compassion and science – a powerful medicine.

  20. Bob says:

    Skepvet – there’s no scientific evidence to prove God exists. But that doesn’t stop anyone from praying or believing or seeing the results. Your approach to healing seems quite narrow minded. It seems you are offended by homeopathy and natural medicine because it’s not proven. Who cares? Vaccines almost killed my dog. Those sillly homeopathic remedies stopped the reaction. How is that possible? Why would you ever be against something that could possibly save an animals life?

    Concerned Pet Parent

  21. skeptvet says:

    You have actually made a point that I myself have made many times: belief in alternative medicine is like religion in that it is based on faith, not evidence. Faith is fine for personal religious belief, but it has been a dramatic and consistent failure in identifying what works in medicine, and science has been far more successful. Faith-based medicine was the mainstay of healthcare for thousands of years, and in all that time half our children died before adulthood, most women died due to childbirth, and our lives were shorter and more miserable than we today can possibly imagine. Replacing personal faith with scientific evidence in medicine changed all that, and going backwards, as you seem to feel we should, will injure and kill many people and pets.

    If you have an open mind, here are some discussions of why personal belief is so unreliable a way to evaluate medical treatments:

    Why Anecdotes Can’t Be Trusted

  22. Bob says:

    What are the cancer rates today in dogs and what about auto immune? What were they 50 years ago? Dogs are dying. MRSA is on the rise. It’s not because those dogs ate too much turmeric. hell yes let’s go backwards. The only thing we’ve got to show for these deaths is more scientific based medicine, more drugs, more vaccines, more flea meds. Chemicals and toxins kill pets (and people) Not herbs and nature.

    How many salmonella infected homeopathy poisoned pets have you treated? Then tell me how many kidney failures, UTIs, iatrogenic cushings disease cases have you seen or has the the average vet treated?

    Animals are nature – to completely assume that they can’t exist and survive or heal without scientific evidence is insane. You realize this on some level, no?

    My dog eats grass when his stomach hurts. There’s no scientific evidence that it could possibly help him. My dog must be an idiot with zero instinct. He’ll probably die of the bacteria in the grass. But definitely not from Apoquel or his 8th distemper shot.

    I’m a business person. Not a vet. And as a business person and a pet parent, what you’re saying to me sounds like it’s about money and I want to know who’s paying you.

    Why do you want people to believe the only way to heal animals if they pay out of their a$$? What’s your incentive?

    Show me some evidence of all those animals that were brutally murdered with natural herbs? And then I’ll show you a dog who has 3 inches of calcium growing out of her skin thanks to scientifically proven prednisone. That was sciences proven cure for toe cysts. Epsom salt works too.

    You are projecting human beliefs on animals as if it’s for their benefit. It’s disturbing and I think this needs to be addressed. I’ll be back.

  23. L says:


    I so appreciate your blog and some of the informative comments.

    Had my 9 yr old small breed in for her annual, cholesterol a little low, unexplained weight loss, might be nothing, or could be something.
    All other labs WNL
    Will be feeding her a little extra and bringing her in for a weigh in (free) in a month.

    I guess there is a digestive disorder we may want to test for, if her weight continues to go down. Low cholesterol is one of the symptoms….

    Because of your blog I have been able to find a vet that I trust.

  24. Ceil Bourdess says:

    I just came across your blog as my husband asked me to look at an herbal product being marketed for Cushing’s. Our 14 year old mixed breed dog has this. She is on Vetoryl. I am a retired psychologist who knows the value of relying on good scientific research. I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate your good advice and will be following your blog. I may be asking for some of your advice in the future.

  25. Ryan D says:

    What brand of dog food do you recommend the most? I have a 1 yr old pit/boxer. I want her to get the right nutrients to be healthy. She’s very picky and hates pedigree. She also doesn’t like to eat dry food she only eats it if we’ve put water in it. If we put water in her food and leave it out will it go bad?

  26. skeptvet says:

    I don’t recommend any particular brand since there is no real research to suggest one is better than another for dogs generally. I would suggest the book Dog Food Logic to help you evaluate the dog food marketplace.

  27. John Long says:

    Bob, I agree with you. I have had more success with complimentary medicines, esp. where my pet is allergic and have had reactions to traditional, science based medicines. I have been giving my pets herbs, holistic remedies, and more unscientific cures for over 45 years. I have 45 years of proof from my success and that is good enough for me to know that it works. It is not cost effective for long term trials to be done on complimentary medicine, as there is no profit in this for the drug companies. Four years ago I treated a dog who had lymphoma, and was given 2-4 weeks to live. The dog is doing fine today, and that dogs owner has passed the “word” to other dogs owners about how her dog was saved with complimentary medicine. Last week I treated a cat that was 12 weeks old, weighed less than a pound, had severe dehydration due to severe diarrhea. Traditional meds failed this cat. I put this cat on a herbal mix, and the diarrhea stopped that night, and to date the cat gained 6 ounces in a week, and is healing and now playing like a kitten should. Pets do very well with “unproven” complimentary medicine.

  28. skeptvet says:

    Of course, I can point to plenty of examples and even scientific studies where people and dogs do better on science-based medicine than alternative medicine, but those anecdotes would not, I suspect, influence your beliefs since only anecdotes that support alternative medicine seem to count most of the time. That’s one of the many reasons anecdotal evidence just isn’t reliable:

    Why Anecdotes Can’t Be Trusted

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