Holistic veterinarian practice opens in Carson City | NevadaAppeal.com

Holistic veterinarian practice opens in Carson City

"Pal", a 10-year-old bearded collie receives acupuncture treatment at Whole Dog Haven on Tuesday.
Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal | Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal

Pal is here for his aching back.

“He has a lot of energy and enthusiasm for life,” explains Carol Colavecchio, Pal’s owner, a retired registered nurse who lives in Minden. “He charged into the pen and the sheep freaked out and started jumping over him and hurt his back.”

Pal, also known as Champion Aellen the Playmaker, is an almost 11 year-old, award-winning sheepherding bearded collie, who’s visiting Whole Dog Haven, Carson City’s new holistic veterinarian practice.

Dr. Elisa Bandelin opened Whole Haven Dog three weeks ago and has already seen more than five dozen dogs all in need of something more than conventional vet medicine.

Pal, for example, is there for orthopedic manipulation, laser therapy and herbal remedy, three of Bandelin’s routinely prescribed treatments. Another is acupuncture.

“Holistic is a big umbrella term,” said Bandelin. “To me, it means looking at the whole animal and treating the patient instead of the disease.”

That means usually a two-hour initial visit at which Bandelin assesses a dog’s condition and needs as well diet and lifestyle.

If conventional medicine is the right thing, Bandelin, who has been a practicing vet for 14 years, refers them elsewhere.

“I once had a lady come with a dog with a huge tumor and I told her to put that under the scalpel first, then I’d help treat him,” said Bandelin. But there are other conditions for which traditional medicine doesn’t have good remedies, said Bandelin.

That includes arthritis, cancer and kidney disease.

“Usually the dog I see is a dog in trouble who doesn’t have a lot of hope,” said Bandelin. “The younger dogs I see usually are the next generation of those pets whose owners want to start taking care of them earlier.”

Among those healthy dogs, Bandelin sees a lot of agility-trained dogs and dogs with active owners who want to optimize their pets’ health and fitness.

For all dogs, treatment can involve a change in diet, either a move to healthier, hydrated packaged food available at Whole Haven or home-cooked meals.

Bandelin remembers a Jack Russell terrier who couldn’t stop panting even after his owners had spent thousands of dollars on unsuccessful treatments. The husband was ready to put the pup down.

Bandelin suggested reducing his lamb-based diet and throwing in cool foods such as cucumbers.

It worked.

“That was a life-saving cucumber,” she said.

Bandelin’s 2,200 square-foot office on Clearview Drive includes a spa-like waiting room and three large consultation rooms, including a euthanasia room, all furnished more like a mediation retreat than a vet’s exam room.

Bandelin received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 2002 and worked in conventional medicine, including a two-year residency in ophthalmology in Reno.

“I went back to general practice because I wanted to look at the whole animal and not just a body part,” she said. “Then I got interested in holistic medicine, especially for pain, arthritis, cancers. I got tired of telling people there was nothing else we could do.”

Bandelin started practicing acupuncture and orthopedic manipulation, which is like chiropractics, in 2008 and bought the Lakeside Animal Hospital in Reno.

The practice grew to four vets and 20 employees and in 2015 Bandelin sold it to VCA, a company with 680 small vet offices nationwide.

“Once I was free from ownership, it just started evolving and I realized I wanted an environment that was just holistic,” she said.

Bandelin, and her vet tech and laser operator Jana Dozet, are in the office at least four days a week. For an appointment, call 461-3694.

Whole Dog Haven, located at 151 Clearview Drive, is hosting an open house May 4 starting at 4:30 p.m. Beer, wine and food will be served, but leave your pets at home.