The Animal Doctor: Pursuing a Lifetime Passion
Jul 31, 2012 11:23AM
● By Beth Davis
Dr. Jodie Gruenstern
At just 5 years old, Dr. Jodie Gruenstern’s love for animals became one of the highest priorities in her life. While visiting her town’s local fair, she fell so in love with a pony that she sold her Barbies in order to have a pony of her own. When it turned out that her pony had an irreparable heart defect, Gruenstern decided that she would become an “animal doctor” so that she could save other animals.
Growing up, Gruenstern’s love of animals and desire to become a veterinarian never waned. Active in 4-H, she took on a veterinary science project. She also worked with the many animals on her parents’ hobby farms, an invaluable experience for which she is still “incredibly grateful.” In 1987, Gruenstern graduated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine charter class.
Today, Gruenstern (known as, “Dr. Jodie”) is the owner and full-time veterinarian at the Animal Doctor Holistic Veterinary Complex (HVC), in Muskego. She also pays homage to her 4-H roots by participating as a youth leader and the creator of the UW-Extension 4-H veterinary science project literature.
A lifetime of experiences with animals has helped Gruenstern understand pet care from the pet guardian’s point of view. She treats each pet patient with care, compassion and love and offers a holistic approach to animal wellness. “We believe the best health comes from the integration of Western medicine and Eastern health practices,” she notes.
It wasn’t always that way. When she first began, Gruenstern was a conventional veterinarian using standard veterinary practices. In fact, she was one of the top sellers of what is considered one of the leading specialty brands of dog and cat food, one promoted by most veterinarians. After she noticed that many pet patients did not do well on the prescription diet—including her daughter’s 14-year-old cat, which had developed uric crystals, bladder stones and kidney disease—Gruenstern learned about raw, natural diets. She tested the meat-based meal plan on her daughter’s feline.
“It took a month, and I learned firsthand how difficult it could be to transition an older, addicted cat to a new food,” she explains. “Eventually, we made the transition, and it worked wonders. Fluffy—yes, that’s his real name—lived to be 20 years old,” notes Gruenstern.
For the past 18 years, she has recommended raw meat and other natural diets, especially canned diets that have less processed grain, more moisture and more meat, without artificial preservatives. “Dogs and cats are carnivores and require species-appropriate meat protein, rather than plant protein,” she explains. “Even if you don’t want to do all raw, you can do a combination of some raw and kibble; just remember to read ingredient labels.” Gruenstern says that regardless of what an individual feeds the pet, it is important to change diets very gradually; she recommends using a probiotic to aid transition.
To help individuals better understand the concept of natural nutrition, she created a DVD, How to Integrate Green Medicine into Pet Healthcare, available at the Animal Doctor website. Gruenstern has also launched D-Lectables, the first in a line of unique and delicious natural food products for dogs and cats, manufactured under the Animal Doctor HVC label. Formulated by Gruenstern and tested on resident clinic and patient pets, D-Lectables offers tested assurance of safety and efficacy for many pet guardians. “We want to make it as easy as possible for pet owners to take a holistic and natural approach to pet care,” she explains. “Offering products and detailed information in the form of a DVD just makes sense.”
Because pets overall health is always her priority, Gruenstern offers a wide array of integrated Western and Eastern, natural, holistic services at Animal Doctor HVC, including comprehensive examinations and consultations, acupuncture, essential oils, grooming, surgery, titers (a blood test which measures the immune response to an antigen exposure), vaccinations and more. The complex even has a dispensary that stocks standard veterinary pharmaceuticals, as well as an extensive array of nutraceuticals and Western and Chinese herbals.
Gruenstern was certified in veterinary acupuncture at the Chi Institute in Florida, in 2008, under the instruction of the world-renown Dr. Huisheng Xie. She is also a certified food therapist and experienced in Western and Oriental herbology. “Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and has proven itself as an effective holistic modality,” notes Gruenstern. “We have seen some dramatic results.”
Herbs can sometimes replace or be just as effective as some prescription medications, according to Gruenstern. Essential oils can be ideal for calming and relaxing a pet during thunderstorms or fireworks. However, she says if used (or distilled) improperly, both can actually be dangerous.
After 25 years as a veterinarian, Gruenstern is just as passionate as that little girl that wanted to be an animal doctor. “I may be a little more nutty about animals than some, but that is what makes me so dedicated to the health of people’s pets,” she says. “I hope they find me to be compassionate, honest, insightful and inspiring.”
Animal Doctor Holistic Veterinary Complex is located at S73 W16790 Janesville Rd., in Muskego. For more information, call 414-422-1300 or visit AnimalDoctorMuskego.com.