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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Always Helpful Veterinary Services

Dr. Judith M. Shoemaker giving a Yorkie a pedicure.

Education for Both Ends of the Leash  

by Sheila Julson

Dr. Judith M. Shoemaker, veterinarian and founder of Always Helpful Veterinary Services, in Nottingham, became intrigued by integrative veterinary medicine modalities when her horse was profoundly helped by a chiropractic adjustment. Impressed, Shoemaker trained in animal chiropractic through the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association with Dr. Sharon Willoughby, who pioneered veterinary chiropractic during the 1980s. Today, chiropractic is one of several integrative techniques Shoemaker offers at Always Helpful Veterinary Services for equine and companion animals.

Shoemaker is a founding member of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) and taught chiropractic courses from 1987 to 2000. She’s lectured throughout the country and internationally on myriad integrative topics including chiropractic, acupuncture and postural rehabilitation. She’s a member of the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA) and the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS).

Always Helpful’s integrative services emphasize help for “both ends of the leash,” and focus on individualized care for each animal. “It’s terrifically important to realize that every animal is an individual,” Shoemaker explains. “Integrative medicine involves getting as much information from clients as possible about seemingly unrelated things—the animal’s likes and dislikes, its family life, where it came from and how it reacted to life occurrences. Those are all important factors in diagnosing and treating animals.”

Shoemaker’s physical medicine work is Postural Rehabilitation. “Postures associated with emotional issues or injuries can create problems mechanically and with physiology; we can change these,” she says. “It’s crucial to the animal’s well-being and balance.” She looks at whether the animal bears weight appropriately, how it uses itself and how it stands. She corrects factors such as toenail length, which can dramatically affect stance, posture and emotions. They use sophisticated “fear-free” nail trimming techniques.

Shoemaker and her staff counsel clients on proper feeding. They emphasize natural meat and vegetable diets with little or no fillers such as legumes, which, in excess, lack proper amino acids or can block their absorption. “A properly balanced, real food, unprocessed raw diet is really a great way to improve our animals’ health,” she advises. “Dogs are omnivores. We’re not against food additives, but we choose very carefully to find things that are well-balanced and provide essential nutrients.”

Always Helpful Veterinary Services promotes the use of titering, or blood testing, to determine if animals need vaccination, rather than automatically boosting. Shoemaker affirms they are not anti-vaccine, and it does take a certain amount of vaccination to protect animals from preventable diseases such as parvo and distemper, but routine titer testing thereafter can determine if an animal has established immunity. “We’re very diligent about making sure animals are protected. We test them to prove whether we need to vaccinate,” she says. “Excessive vaccinations can have deleterious effects on the immune system and cause allergies, skin problems, and chronic inflammatory disease. We want to vaccinate appropriately, but not over-vaccinate.”

Other integrative modalities Shoemaker offers include Qest 4 testing: a functional medicine DNA test to help determine specific supplemental needs. Homeopathy services consist of preparing individualized remedies to restore balance. The clinic also uses ozone therapy for infectious disease, allergies, ear and skin problems, bone infections, and to help with post-surgical healing. Ozone is also used as an adjunct to cancer therapy.

Shoemaker has researched many cancer treatments for animals and says she is one of the few veterinarians in the country to offer SanaWave electromagnetic/hyperthermic technology. She says it’s particularly helpful in treating animals that don’t tolerate chemotherapy well. It also helps reduce the metastasis of cancers and treats those that can’t be removed through surgery or radiation.

BEMER technology is a German device that helps improve delivery of oxygen to the body’s tissues and removal of toxins. Shoemaker notes that all animals enjoy BEMER therapy sessions to help enhance microcirculation and ease discomfort. In addition, Shoemaker uses Chinese herbs and treatments like nanoparticulate iron, given intravenously, to treat cancerous tumors.

“We need to educate people about alternatives and their integration with conventional medicine and how to help keep their animals well,” Shoemaker concludes.

Always Helpful Veterinary Services is located at 305 Nottingham Rd., Nottingham. For more information, call 717-529-0526 or visit