Healthy Beginnings

Ask the Expert with Dr. Sardines: What’s in Your Pet’s Bowl?

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Who/what is Dr. Sardines?

My name is Dr. Elisa Bandelin (aka Dr. Sardines) and I am licensed in veterinary acupuncture, orthopedic manipulation and food therapy. I have more than 15 years of veterinary practice experience, which includes medicine, surgery, dentistry, acupuncture, herbal therapy, orthopedic manipulation, laser therapy and more. Throughout my years of practice, I have found that nutrition is a crucial component to optimizing health: whether the pet is young or senior, healthy or terminally ill.

What’s the story behind the name?

A client jokingly called me Dr. Sardines, as I tell people starting out that you don’t have to be a chef to throw some foods in a crockpot, and sometimes we’ll start with one diet alteration — it’s sometimes sardines. Just by adding 1/2 a sardine (medium sized dog) to your pet’s food everyday, your pet will love the change! Clients are often surprised at the positive changes they see in their pets even with small changes to the diet.

When did you notice that balanced nutrition is one of the key factors in pet health?

There are so many talented veterinarians in our area practicing conventional medicine very well. We are fortunate to have a wonderful veterinary community. But, there aren’t that many people who can incorporate herbs into a pet’s treatment, and who can talk about foods. I veered more and more toward nutrition because I noticed that people who are more willing to change their pet’s diet have the healthiest pets. Hands down. In 2014, I decided to get licensed in holistic veterinary food therapy, which is a holistic training that helps vets use food as medicine and focus on how to recognize the pattern imbalances in a patient and apply specific foods as medicine – everything from spices to herbs, to vegetables to meats.

How can you help enhance my pet’s health and wellness?

First I evaluate everything there is to know about your pet — health history, lifestyle, likes and dislikes, diet, medications, vaccine history, fears, climate preference, even the side of the bed he sleeps on! Holistic medicine focuses on the whole being, not just the body part(s) that may be sick. When you look at the whole picture of a pet’s health, you can truly find the cause of an ailment. It all ties in – you have to treat the root of the problem, and the branches start to resolve as you chip away at that root. I take a holistic approach to your pet’s health, and work with their vet to ensure that all wellness needs are assessed and met. Pets are part of the family now, and they are our best friends. How can we enhance our relationship with them while maximizing their health? By adding a holistic approach to their care. For some dogs that just means some subtle diet changes. To others that means weekly laser, acupuncture or other modalities we decide upon together at the time we meet. Every pet is different, so every pet is treated like an individual.

What types of ailments can you treat holistically?

Pain and inflammation, cancer, metabolic, kidney and liver diseases, arthritis and degenerative joint disease, and many other health complications can bene t from a whole foods diet. Even the most healthy pets can gain optimum wellness from a whole foods diet, too. I work with pets undergoing conventional treatments to ensure that the food and herbs are compatible with the pet’s medications, etc. Specifically, metabolic, kidney and liver disease are huge in cats and dogs. Kidney failure is extremely common in cats, and is on the rise in dogs.

Nutrition allows you to play an active role in treating these diseases. I’m not doing the cooking and feeding for you and your pet – I counsel you so that you can do it yourself. This helps you know that you’re doing everything you can to optimize your pet’s health – from laser therapy to acupuncture to cooking some cool foods. And, food therapy is individualized to each pet – sometimes a dog will go home with a recipe with 30 ingredients, sometimes it will be two ingredients.

If my pet’s nutritional needs are met with dry kibble, why should I consider a whole foods diet?

If your pet is eating processed food, their nutritional needs could very well be met. But, are you optimizing their health and performance? Processed foods on paper might be nutritionally complete, but how digestible are they? How much are they adding to your pet’s wellness, or are they just keeping your pet alive? We’re used to just being alive, we’re used to feeling low energy, we’re used to not thriving. Eating live foods that are bio digestible – meaning that the body can use the materials in that food very efficiently to convert food into energy – optimize wellness. My dogs are part of my family – we eat whole foods together.

What makes you unique when it comes to pet health in our community?

I’m unique in that I don’t want to be unique. I want to be obsolete. I want fresh foods to be in every pet’s bowl. I want every pet to have the opportunity for a holistic perspective on their care. My goal is to help people start gaining more confidence in listening to their pet, respecting their pet’s desires and working more harmoniously with their pet on nutrition. We are not contradicting modern medicine, we are just adding a different approach to nutrition to enhance perspective on wellness and on illness.

For more information, call Dr. Sardines at 775-720-4774 or visit Dr. Sardines is located at 213 Sage Street, Unit 5, in Carson City.