Meet Dr. Gary Richter, MS, DVM

    As 2016 comes to a close, we want to celebrate the veterinary team that has been with us every step of the way. In honor of his continued support and contributions, we sat down with Dr. Gary Richter to learn about a new trend in veterinary medicine.

    Alex K.: Dr. Richter is the owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Veterinary Care. He is also director of the Pet and Wildlife Fund and serves as the Californian Veterinary Medical Association’s Alameda County veterinary disaster response coordinator. When he isn’t caring for animals, Dr. Richter enjoys being outdoors, traveling, vegetarian cooking, and spending time with his wife, daughter, three dogs and a cat.

    Thank you for coming to chat with us again Dr. Richter. First things first, what would you say is your biggest driver for being a veterinarian?

    Dr. Richter: You know, I think that my goal as a doctor, overall, is a combination of looking for the best holistic and complimentary medicines for dogs and cats, and then combining those methods and modalities with traditional veterinary medicine. So whether that’s hyperbaric oxygen therapy, pulsed laser therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, or one of the many other modalities that we feature at Holistic Veterinary Care, I’m always thinking about ways that these modes of treatment can augment traditional western veterinary care.

    Alex K.: For those who might be skeptical of Holistic treatment for animals, what would you say is your reasoning for utilizing a mixture of complimentary and traditional medicines?

    Dr. Richter: I’m going to be the first one to tell you that traditional veterinary medicine can be extremely effective in treating a variety of diseases and conditions. However, it is also the case that Holistic methods can excel in certain areas where western medicine remains much less effective. And the opposite is true as well—holistic can’t always treat the same problems that traditional medicine does. I really think of it like building a house: you wouldn’t want to try building a house with only half of a tool box, and so the same goes for the medical care of our pets; there’s no reason to limit ourselves by just one school of medicine when both can be more efficacious when used together.

    Dr. Richter on Halloween with his puppies

    Alex K.: That makes sense to us! You’ve mentioned hyperbaric oxygen therapy and pulsed laser therapy, as well as acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Are there any other medicines or treatments that you are particularly excited about introducing to the larger veterinary community?

    Dr. Richter: I think one of the biggest developments in human medicine recently has been the continued understanding of the medicinal benefits of cannabis derived products. With marijuana being legalized in California during the last election, hemp and marijuana based medicines are going to become increasingly popular and well understood. As many pet owners begin to discover the benefits of medical cannabis for themselves, there is an ever growing interest in whether cannabis would have the same benefits for our pets. The answer is clearly yes. However, there is one important distinction that needs to be made between cannabis products for humans versus for animals.

    Two of the most therapeutic compounds in cannabis are THC and CBD. While both can be used to great effect in humans, animals cannot handle excessive amounts of THC. The good news, though, is that products with high CBD and low THC are perfectly safe for pets and can produce dramatic medical results. At Holistic Veterinary Care, we’ve started to prescribe hemp based CBD oil to our patients whom we think can benefit from it, and we’ve already seen great returns. I recently gave a talk to other pet owners and veterinarians at a conference in Santa Rosa, and there is clearly a growing sense of excitement around the medical benefits that CBD can have for our pets.

    Alex K.: CBD sounds like a really promising area of growth for veterinary medicine. We’ll  check in with you again to see how this is developing. Thank you so much for your time today!


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