But the blood tests were okay!

I wish I had a dollar for every time this was said about a sick pet. I know that I hear it regularly in my practice of holistic medicine from clients who have spent a small (and sometimes not so small) fortune with conventional veterinarians. Yet, the pet is still sick and no diagnosis has been made. Often just by listening to the symptoms, I know that the pet's liver is not functioning properly "But the blood tests were okay!" The area of diagnostic testing is one of the greatest successes and failures of conventional medicine. With blood and urine analyses, a large amount of new data is available to the medical practitioner as to what is happening within the body on a physical and chemical level.

However, it is important for doctors and clients to understand that normal tests can be present even during serious dysfunction. How can this occur? All of us were created with more than just the bare minimum to survive. As an example, we have approximately 3-4 times the amount of liver and kidney tissue required to live. If this was not the case, we would all be living on the brink and the slightest injury to a vital organ would kill us. This is a wonderful arrangement. However, it also makes blood tests a lot less accurate than we think. Why? Let's say a dog's liver is only functioning at 90% of normal. The body can draw on its reserves and make up the difference. As a result, the blood tests remain normal. This holds true until 60-70% of the liver is damaged. At that point, the remaining functioning tissue is unable to compensate and the blood tests elevate. Before this occurs, a conventional vet would say the liver tests are normal and a pet owner assumes that this means the liver is healthy. When, in actuality, 60% of the liver may be damaged. A holistic veterinarian would look at the PET. If the pet is showing signs of liver dysfunction e.g. vomiting bile, the vet would work to strengthen the liver function regardless of test results. This same scenario occurs very often with chronic kidney disturbances.

Don't get me wrong. Abnormal kidney and liver function tests do indicate problems. It is the normal tests that can be VERY misleading. Many pet owners accept the results of normal tests at face value. The pet continues to do poorly until the damage is severe enough to change the blood tests. Then, the vet can make a diagnosis. However, at that point, the damage is much worse and more likely to be irreversible. Diagnostic testing has its role in the medical world. However, conventional veterinarians must learn to look at the pet first and use tests to confirm their suspicions. Unfortunately, most doctors today rely on tests to tell them what is wrong and if the tests are normal, so is the patient. I have had more than one occasion when I discovered a large tumor in the abdomen of a patient. These pets had been seen (but apparently not examined very thoroughly) and had complete blood panels, x - rays, etc. yet the veterinarians didn't find the tumors. The example I have given represents only one of the many ways in which tests can be misleading. The same holds true for urinalysis, fecal analysis, x-rays, ultrasound, etc. They have all been given too much credit as per their ability to find the "disease". A true healer should be able to help most patients without any of these. I recently read a great quote in a homeopathy journal, "By the time the physician makes a diagnosis, the homeopath has cured the patient."

Russell Swift, DVM, HMC