Published: 16th October 2020
How this vet in Mumbai is using flower therapy to help dogs look on the bright side of life
While he is out on the roads of Kalyan in Mumbai feeding stray dogs and doing his bit on the occasion, Akshay Shah introduces us to alternative therapies for our four-legged friends
The stray dogs in Kalyan, Mumbai are set to get all the attention as on World Food Day today, TEDxRambaug, in association with Dr Akshay Shah of AcuVet Veterinary Clinic fame, is on the streets feeding them. Not just this, a 'free for all' medical check-up and anti-rabies vaccination camp will follow. "We are targetting at least 200 dogs," says the 30-year-old who adds that local volunteers will be joining in as well. What a way to celebrate World Food Day, in the company of man's best friends!
As a vet, Dr Shah has been doing a lot for dogs, but what he specialises in is natural and holistic therapies like homeopathy, acupuncture and flower therapy, the last of which really caught our attention. "We all know allopathic medicines cause side-effects, but when it comes to pets, we are lax about this," he laments. Thus, he goes the alternative way about seven years back. His father used to perform acupuncture on humans, that's when the Mumbai-based doctor thought to himself, 'Why not for animals?'.
Hence, Dr Shah went on to supplement his Master's in Pathology from Bombay Veterinary College with a Veterinary Acupuncture course from CHI Institute Europe, Bach Flower Therapy from Bach Foundation (UK) and a degree in Veterinary Homeopathy. Now that's a power-packed academic profile. But professionally too, the young vet, who started AcuVet Veterinary Clinic in 2016, has gone on to treat pets of various celebrities like actor Sonali Bendre and Arjun Rampal.
Dr Shah | (Pic: TEDxRambaug)
So what is Bach Flower Therapy anyway? It works on the mind directly. There are over 38 flowers whose extracts are used to treat different behaviours. And every behaviour is classified into different types and sub-types in order to understand which extract needs to be administered. For example, during festivals like Ganesh Chaturti and Diwali, where the celebrations outside make pets inside, who are much more sensitive to sounds then we are, very anxious, Dr Shah has a simple solution. "I distribute free spray bottles with the extract which can be sprayed on dogs' faces, under their paws or directly inside their mouths," explains the youngster who is currently pursuing an online course on Massage Therapy for Pets. This works during the monsoons too when thunder and loud showers drive our pets under the beds. But all these therapies are customised as per the needs of dogs, no one-size-fits-all approach here.
Because of the ongoing pandemic, we have been spending so much time home and with our pets, but when offices open up properly, they will be ridden with anxiety again, cautions Dr Shah. "The extracts work best when administered one week or two to three days prior to such events where you will be going away for a vacation or a festival is around the corner," explains the vet who recently shifted his clinic from Wadala to Dadar. And out of the 200 odd pets he has treated with alternative therapies, about 80 per cent have shown improvement in their conditions, we are told. In fact, when his own dog had cancer, this therapy helped with the pain. There have been discussions and the scientific evidence is low, but his belief in his claims and his therapy is quite high.
So on this World Food Day, Dr Shah wants to leave us with the message that dogs are much more sensitive to everything than we are and they don't deserve the harsh antibiotics, steroids or even painkillers which surely work fast, but have a lasting-impact on their gut, kidneys and other parts of the body. And if you want to opt for what he is offering, he is just a call away no matter where in India, or aboard, you and your pet are based out of!