WING TIPS ..... Interview With a Holistic Vet


D r. David McCluggage of Boulder, Colorado, is a pioneer in the field of alternative treatment methods for parrots. Dr. McCluggage earned his DVM at Colorado State University. He is a past president of the Association of Avian Veterinarians and is currently the Managing Editor of the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and is a member of their Board of Directors. Dr. Dave is in demand as a teacher of other veterinarians who wish to learn alternative treatment modes for parrots and other animals. His advice can be found in "Ask Dr. Dave," a column in Natural Pet Magazine, which details holistic care for pets.

Dr. McCluggage's veterinary practice is a combination of allopathic and holistic treatment methods. He says that he has no problem with the use of antibiotics and uses them when needed, but he uses holistic treatments as an adjunct therapy, even in serious diseases in many cases. Through the use of holistic treatments, Dr. McCluggage has kept birds with Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease alive for much longer than they. normally would have lived. He uses herbs as anti-viral agents and to kill bacteria in some cases: If a bird is not seriously ill, he may treat it with herbs only.

He says that chronic diseases rarely are successfully cured using conventional allopathic methods. Alternative modalities, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and nutrition show promise for increasing the success rate in treating these chronic conditions. Doctor Dave says that it matter not whether medicine is old or


new as long as it brings about a cure.

Linda McCluggage assists the doctor in his practice and adds her own personal touch of warmth and care. She not only is knowledgeable about the many alternative treatment methods used at the clinic but is said to have a special "way with animals" that calms and reassures them in crisis situations.

In an excerpt from the AHVMA Conference Proceedings of 1995, Dr. McCluggage said, "Birds are very sensitive, emotional, and intelligent animals. Because of this, they are prone to stress and the detrimental effects of restraint, medications, and many of the more invasive diagnostic or therapeutic modalities employed in conventional practice. It is possible, literally, to stress the patient to death during restraint, physical examinations, and blood collection. The stress associated with any procedure must always be evaluated against the potential benefit to the patient. Birds must always be treated gently and with care during any procedure. Therapeutic decisions are developed after the veterinarian assesses the patient's mental and emotional condition, physical disorders, nutritional status, and environment."


According to Dr. McCluggage, birds have a high metabolic rate. Many birds have a heart rate of 200 plus, and a high body temperature that often is greater than 103°F. Birds are light and relative-


ly hollow (their air sac system). This makes them more yang in nature. From an evolutionary view, birds evolved from reptiles and are a younger class than the Class Mammalia. This means that they are "purer" animals than are mammals. This leads to the assumption that they would be more responsive or sensitive to acupuncture techniques. The balance between yin and yang is more readily manipulated with acupuncture, making needling techniques potentially stronger.

Recently, veterinary acupuncture has gained greater acceptance in the veterinary medical community throughout the world. Dr. McCluggage says, "Almost every bird that comes into my health center gets acupuncture treatment first. Most people think that acupuncture is useful only for arthritic problems or pain relief. What is not understood is that acupuncture can work for literally any disease that the body might have. It strengthens the body so that it can fight off the disease process. If a bird presents with a bacterial infection, acupuncture is part of the treatment. If a parrot gets egg bound, acupuncture is effective for that too." Dr. McCluggage does not use regular acupuncture needles. Instead, he gives Vitamin B-12 injections into the acupuncture points. This applies minor irritation and pressure to the


area where the acupuncture point is located. It applies the same kind of stimulus that a needle does. The bird is held in a towel and the points are located and injected. Dr. McCluggage uses needles but does not leave them in. For tonification and sedation techniques, he injects one point for five or ten seconds, pushing the needle in and out, and then he moves on the next point. He likes needles in all situations if at all possible but rarely leaves needles in for any length of time, except in baby birds.

He does not use electropuncture on birds and says that a bird's heart can be stopped with electropuncture. He explained that it is difficult to tell how much conductivity there is at an acupuncture point. There are variations in the fluid in the area at different times, so the amount of resistance to the electrical flow varies every day and varies with the placement of the acupuncture needle.