Vet takes holistic approach

Technician Pat Tramontana (second from l.) holds a cat named Spooky as Dr. John Lu (r.) performs an examination and owner Angel Wang (l.) looks on. Photo by Karen Frantz
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At a quiet, seemingly nondescript veterinary clinic in Fresh Meadows, the services offered at first glance may seem pretty standard: medicine, X-rays, surgery, dentistry, grooming.

But acupuncture?

“I believe in an integrative approach,” said Dr. John Lu, owner of Queens Animal Health and Emergency, at 183-04 Horace Harding Expwy., which cares for animals with an eye to the holistic. “One health, one medicine, because they are the same.”

The clinic offers a mix of Western- and Eastern-based veterinary care for dogs, cats and a few exotic and so-called pocket pets. The product, Lu said, of his years of training in Beijing, China, and at Perdue University, where he was exposed to both approaches to medicine.

“I take the best of both worlds,” he said, adding that Eastern and Western medicine are “not mutually exclusive. They can be used together just based on the situation.”

Lu opened the clinic about six months ago in a building that used to house a Korean natural foods market. It is his first clinic in the borough, but he also owns the decade-old Setauket Veterinary Hospital in Long Island, which also takes a holistic approach to animal care. Two other vets work at the Queens center in addition to a licensed technician and a kennel assistant.

Lu offers any of the services to be expected at a veterinary clinic, plus a few that would not. In addition to offering veterinary acupuncture, which he uses to treat a range of ailments including pain, tracheal collapse, the loss of rear leg function and others, he also mixes his own herbal remedies with ingredients bought from China that he tailors to the individual needs of each animal.

“For chronic diseases it works wonderful,” he said of the herbs.

But he added he remains flexible in his approach and will pursue many avenues if one particular method is not successful.

“I do whatever works,” he said. “If it doesn’t work, I abandon it right away.”

For example, some animals may respond well to acupuncture and the Chinese herbs, said Lu, who cited a case where he had cured a partially paralyzed dachshund with acupuncture at his Long Island clinic.

But he also pointed to one of the animals he recently treated at the Queens clinic, a rottweiler suffering from a tumor, and said it was clear the dog needed surgery.

“For these [cases], I’m not fooling around with herbs,” he said.

He said his clients, who he said tend to be highly educated, have embraced his approach to veterinary care and his Queens business has been growing in the few months it has been open.

In addition, Lu said he adapted to the demographically diverse community by hiring staff members who are able to communicate in various languages. So far, Chinese, Russian, Italian, Filipino and Polish are spoken fluently at the clinic.

He said being able to communicate with pet owners is important because it makes them feel comfortable and helps create a connection and better understanding.

But ultimately, he said, he is responding to his clients’ needs, which he said is his primary job.

“We’re a small business,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t have the big idea.”

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Posted 4:41 pm, December 27, 2012
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