When did your interest in Veterinary Medicine begin?
I started working with large animal veterinarians while working as a County Agriculture Extension Agent in Vermont from 1980 - 1984, and that led to an interest in sheep and goat medicine. I was involved with early trials in trans-cervical artificial insemination of sheep in 1985 but lacked formal post-graduate training in veterinary medicine. My wife Katy and I were raising a farm flock of 380 sheep, pastured dairy heifers, kept a small flock of laying hens, a Border Collie dog, barn kitties and several pigs from 1987 to 1993. In the fall of 1992 I was asked to develop a sheep foot rot control program for wool growers in Uruguay. As soon as I completed the sheep project in Uruguay I was ready to apply to Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine and enrolled in the fall, 1993.
What led you to Holistic Medicine?
My father, Dr. Oscar Rogers Kruesi, M.D. practiced integrated medicine for 30 years of a nearly 45-year career in internal medicine. He was inspired by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, PhD who taught biochemistry to physicians and developed the scientific basis for “functional medicine”. My father was a role model for me: honest, a hard worker, progressive, polite, fully devoted to his patient’s care, and open minded. He collaborated with Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, PhD, M.D. and other innovators in the field of orthomolecular medicine, i.e. the use of nutrients in the prevention and treatment of disease or what we know as nutritional medicine. Other members of my family have been involved in natural medicine as well. My sister Kate Kruesi Lincoln is a homeopath, brother Hugo has a Master’s degree in Integrative Medicine, brother Markus Kruesi, M.D. is head of child psychiatry at the University of South Carolina and worked with Dr. Pfeiffer at the Brain Bio Center in Princeton, New Jersey. My sisters-in-law Mary Alice Cryns Kruesi and Debby Cooper Kruesi helped write and edit Dr. Pfeiffer’s books.
Did you have any mentors as you became involved in Holistic Medicine?
My first position as an associate veterinarian was at one of the largest, if not the largest, and oldest holistic small animal veterinary practices in the country, Smith Ridge Veterinary Center in South Salem, New York. My mentor was the practice owner and founder Dr. Martin Goldstein, D.V.M. Marty is a very intelligent, caring, funny, creative veterinarian that opened my eyes to treatment of chronic disease with natural medicine and good nutrition. His associate at that time, Dr. Tina Aiken spent hours teaching me Goldstein’s system of nutritional analysis.
What modalities do you practice, and where did you get your training?
Nutritional medicine and chiropractic care comprise the majority of service I provide at Cold River Veterinary Center. Fully two-thirds of my clients are long-distance so our communications are by telephone, email, and written correspondence. I have a year of post-graduate education in animal nutrition from Cornell University (1985).
My post-graduate training in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS, certified 2002). I am a graduate of the Animal Chiropractic course from Parker College of Chiropractic and certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA, 2006).
What is the structure of your practice (eg. Solo, group, Integrative, solely Holistic)? How many support staff do you have?
Kate Kruesi and I founded Cold River Veterinary Center, a one-doctor holistic small animal practice in North Clarendon, VT in May 1999.
We have 3 full-time staff, including Kate.
What is your physical practice environment?
CRVC operates a private clinic in a rural location.
What is a normal workday like for you?
As a holistic veterinarian with 15 years of experience my case load is largely drawn from dogs and cats with complex disease syndromes or chronic disease that has been refractory to improvement with conventional treatments. Given the severity and depth of the medical problems presented to CRVC our schedule has time slots of 1 – 2 hours for a new patient consultation, and 1 hour for follow-up appointments. It is common for new and existing clients to travel 1½ to 5 hours to our clinic for annual or semi-annual appointments. This allows our staff to work in a low-stress office environment at a sustainable pace and provides patients with a comfortable, supportive experience.
What are your favorite tools (eg. Supplies, products, computers, etc)?
Non-invasive diagnostic tests have been an essential part of the accuracy and success of my treatment plans. I was the first veterinarian to employ comprehensive stool analysis from a human diagnostic laboratory for small animals. Ten years later the use of these tests has still enabled me to rehabilitate dogs and cats with a wide variety of diseases. Practically all of my patients have routine blood, urine, and fecal testing, many have steroid and thyroid hormone profiles to better understand the underlying problems. Many of my patients undergo IgE antibody allergy testing, and hair elements analysis. Our records of hair test results from more than 800 patients are probably the largest set of data of its kind.
While these diagnostic tests have provided objective measures of a patient’s condition, the interpretation of those tests remains the difference between making good observations and having excellent outcomes. My favorite tool is a BioMedical Profile (BMP), the system of nutritional analysis I developed as a consistent way to prepare a nutritional treatment plan for individual patients.
What provides you with inspiration in your practice life?
CRVC is a very results-oriented practice. We document our cases thoroughly by preparing flow charts for all laboratory test results over the course of treatment, capturing motion or gait changes with video files, taking photographs of patients before and after treatment, and maintaining lengthy written records from the patient intakes, physical exam findings, and client communications. The inspiration for self-improvement is from the remarkable recoveries we see in animals with truly difficult health problems.
What are your favorite conferences?
The annual conference sponsored by AVCA is always motivating but I have enjoyed the Parker College seminars for chiropractors and nutritional medicine seminars taught by Dr. Jeffrey Bland.
Are there any other things you do to be inspired professionally?
Living in rural Vermont means not having close access to a medical library. The Internet has many resources to inspire confidence, gain knowledge, or interact with colleagues.
Do you have any other professional activities?
I have been a member of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association for almost 20 years though have no free time to be active in that organization, but benefit from reading journals and periodicals.
How do you maintain balance between your professional activities and home life?
I am fortunate to have a 4-doctor regional hospital that provides emergency services for my local clients so that I do not have to respond to calls after our regular business hours.
What do you like to do away from the office?
I have several road bicycles and ride several thousand miles every year, commute 9 miles to work year-around, and participate in many cycling events for charity. The photograph shows me closing in on the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, the tallest peak in the East (copyright Leo Kenney Photography).
What is the future of holistic veterinary medicine?
Holistic medicine is largely based on natural processes that will not become outmoded. Holistic care is supportive rather than predominantly interventional. Most of the principles of disease prevention are timeless and will serve animals well in the future. The current model of waiting for disease to occur and then managing the patient is doctor-centered rather than patient-centered and will continue to have inherent conflicts.
Do you have any advice to those just starting out?
There are few opportunities for formal education in holistic medicine so for practical reasons the methods and concepts are passed on from one veterinarian to another, an inconsistent way to transfer knowledge or experience. One way to acquire professional education in natural or holistic medicine is to enroll in courses at a college of naturopathic medicine or medical school and relate that information to the practice of holistic veterinary medicine.
Are there any new developments in Medicine that excite you?
Professional organizations such as AVCA, IVAS, the American Association of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA), etc. have improved the scope and quality of post-graduate education. As these peer organizations grow there will be a move towards research that can validate what we see everyday in private practice. Many veterinarians past and present have volunteered their time and expertise to build the quality of holistic practice around the world.