Newly hired veterinarian Menolly Cote is adding a new approach to pet care at Freeport Veterinary Hospital.

Cote, whose husband Tyler is also a veterinarian, has expanded her skills to include traditional Chinese veterinary medicine. Born in Pennsylvania, Cote, 32, also has lived in New Jersey, Michigan, Oklahoma and Missouri. She graduated from the University of Missouri in Columbia with degrees in biology and veterinary medicine.

“After vet school, I did an internship at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, which is where I met my husband, Tyler,” Cote said. “He was finishing his senior year of vet school at the time. My husband is from Auburn, so we moved back to Maine in 2009 and have been here ever since. We live in Bowdoinham and have been here for about three years. My husband works at Androscoggin Animal Hospital in Topsham.”

The Cotes have one son, Tobin, who will be a year old at the end of May.

Cote answered questions regarding her practice for the Tri-Town Weekly.

Q: What prompted your move to the Freeport Veterinary Hospital?

A: I was drawn to Freeport Veterinary Hospital due to its reputation for high-quality medicine and a great staff. I believe the key to getting the best treatment for my patients is keeping up to date with the latest medical findings, but also having a warm, welcoming and capable staff to work with. I was really lucky to find that at Freeport Vet.

Q: What is different about Chinese veterinary medicine?

A: Traditional Chinese veterinary medicine strives to maintain balance within the body. There is a big focus on preventing problems before they occur by supporting the body as a whole. This is accomplished with good nutrition, proper exercise and maintenance therapies that work to keep energy flowing properly within the body. Traditional Chinese veterinary medicine includes acupuncture, herbal and food therapy and tui-na, a massage technique. These therapies can be used to help maintain a healthy pet or treat illnesses either in conjunction with traditional Western medicine or as a standalone.

Q: You practice an “integrative approach” to treating pets? How does that work?

A: Integrative medicine refers to a combined approach of using both Western and Chinese veterinary medicine techniques to ensure the best possible care for my patients. This can mean something different with each pet and client. For example, a common problem that we see in older pets is arthritis. Prior to learning traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, my treatment for this issue would be focused on treating the symptoms that occur and trying to prevent progression. This might entail pain medications, joint supplements and physical therapy. With the added knowledge of Chinese veterinary medicine, I can now look for imbalances in the body that may have increased the risk of developing arthritis and add therapies such as herbs or different foods that may help to reduce inflammation and prevent progression. Furthermore, we have the added bonus of being able to use acupuncture to further treat pain and potentially reduce the need for medications.

Q: Young people are much more careful about what they feed their pets than their parents and grandparents. Is this making a difference in the health of the pets?

A: I have noticed a greater scrutiny of what we are feeding ourselves, as well as our pets. I think this is wonderful. Increasing our awareness of what goes into our bodies and how that may affect our health, both in the short term, and years down the line is a powerful way to improve quality of life. Unfortunately, this increased interest in pet foods, along with the magic of Google, has led to a lot of misinformation regarding pet foods. It’s really important that pet parents consult their veterinarian if they have questions about their pet’s diets. We go to school for eight or more years to learn about pet’s health, nutrition and illness. We really are the best resource for making the right choices for regarding diet.

Q: How does herbal therapy work for a dog or cat?

A: In Chinese veterinary medicine, herbal therapy is likened to concentrated food therapy. The absolute best thing you can do for health is have a well balanced, high-quality diet. Sometimes that’s not possible, or things happen that are out of our control and illness occurs. Herbal therapy can be helpful in these circumstances to help correct imbalances and treat illness. Herbal therapy can be used to complement traditional Western medications or as the sole treatment in some cases.

Q: What’s the best thing to do for a dog that is alone all morning and half the afternoon? Is a daily walk the best medicine?

A: Daily interaction and enrichment is vitally important for our pets. Many of us have to work most of the day and are not able to take our pets with us. Taking the time each day to walk with your pet is a good practice to keep both you and your pet healthy and well-adjusted. Other great options for enrichment are playing games with your pet such as fetch, find the toy or chase. There are also a number of great puzzle toys available that can be filled with treats to give your pet something to focus on while you’re gone.

Menolly Cote of Bowdoinham is a new veterinarian at Freeport Veterinary Hospital.Courtesy photo

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