Joyce welcomes Dr. Cynthia Maro
May 12, 2020 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Joyce welcomes Dr. Cynthia Maro, Cranberry Holistic Pet Care in Cranberry, PA to the show. The veterinary clinic provides an integrative approach to pet care, utilizing conventional surgery, dentistry and medical veterinary services, cutting edge diagnostics, like CT scans and complementary acupuncture, herbology, animal chiropractic, massage, craniosacral, STEM Cell/PRP, prolotherapy, water treadmill and rehabilitative care. Dr. Maro discusses the effect of COVID-19 on pets.

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MAY 12, 2020

1:00 P.M. CT




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     The views and ideas expressed on the following program are strictly those of the host or guests and do not necessarily reflect the views and ideas held by the VoiceAmerica talk radio network, its staff, and management. 

     >> Welcome to "Disability Matters," with your host, Joyce Bender.  All comments, views, and opinions expressed on the show are solely those of the host, guests, and callers.  Now the host of "Disability Matters," here's Joyce Bender. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Hey, welcome to the show, everyone.  I hope everyone is staying safe and listening to the scientists.  Hear what I said, listen to the scientists.  Scientists rule.  I want everyone to be safe.

     And I have to send a special greeting out to two of my friends, Geon Hyeong and Richard Roberts.  Geon Hyeong Cho.  Geon is in South Korea; Richard is in Okinawa.  They both work for the U.S. State Department, and when I spoke around the world several years ago now -- I still do, but I spoke there about the employment of people with disabilities and the value of people with disabilities.  These two are heroes of mine.  I mean, they work so hard to include people with disabilities in what they do.  So special shout out to both of you.  I know what's going on in your countries.  Please be safe.

     And to the other listeners around the world, I know we have listeners in 17 different countries, and I know in China, which is our second largest listening audience after the United States, what you've been going through, and just know to all of my brothers and sisters with disabilities, we are thinking about you, and thank you so much for listening to the show.

     Also, my good friend, Yoshiko Dart, right here in the United States, Yoshiko, special shout out to you.  In case you don't know, her late husband was Justin Dart, Jr., our great general that helped get the ADA signed, so shout outs to all of you.

     Highmark, Peoples Natural Gas, Wells Fargo, and My Employment Options, thank you for sponsoring this show.  You know, Highmark has sponsored this show now for four years.  What a great company, and David Holmberg, CEO, thank you for your support.

     Well, I am very excited about the show today because I have had so many people with disabilities that have service animals talking to me, asking me different questions, and, of course, people without disabilities that have pets asking me questions about COVID, and all of the shows, as you know, over the past several weeks have been on the impact of COVID for people with disabilities, whether they are deaf or have a mental health disabilities -- disability or have an intellectual disability.  I've been very, very, very focused on trying to help through this radio show.

     And now today, as I said, to answer a lot of those questions, we have -- if you were here in Pennsylvania, we have the best vet there is, and, by the way, my doctor, my veterinarian, who because she was able to help Jasmine and Buddy, she is a superstar to me.  She is awesome, and we were able to get her on this radio show, and this woman is so busy with her practice that that was hard to do, and Cynthia Maro, veterinarian from Cranberry Holistic Pet Care (Audio cutting out) Pennsylvania, welcome to the show, Dr. Maro.  It's truly a pleasure to have you as our guest, and, you know, all throughout the world, people have pets, so this will probably be my most listened-to show over the past 16 years, but it is truly a pleasure to have you with us today. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Well, thank you, and it's wonderful to be here because it's so nice to have the opportunity to educate people about more options for health and hope and happiness shared with your pets because, really, they're a Godsend, especially during this time where so many people are isolated with their pets at their home, and so this is just a pleasure for me as well. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, it's a pleasure to have you with us.

     So let's start with you telling our listeners why you decided to become a veterinarian.  Since we have listeners all around the world, I'm sure that's a question they would be interested in you answering. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Okay.  Well, I grew up on a farm, and I have six siblings.  We had all sorts of animals on the farm growing up in Ohio, and I had the -- I think it's, you know, one of the best mentors and veterinarians.  I grew up with him and his brother, who's ten years older than him, and he had an incredible number of animals, so I was exposed to early care, husbandry, as well as taking care of the animals while he was away in college and veterinary school from a very early age.  I was nine when I took over all of the husbandry practices on the farm and many times was the person giving injections and foaling horses and calves, and so I got early exposure, and I found it a greatly rewarding experience to be able to help those animals and ease suffering, help them in their care, especially when they were ill, so I knew I had a passion and a desire to help that way.

     When I was in college, I did explore the human medical field, and I truly felt that the best way to facilitate human health is by helping the animals that are so often the support for the humans in the household, and I have found, over the 33 years in practice, that my clients, the bond I have with the owners is often much greater than it would be if I was in a human medical practice, so I find it rewarding on both levels, helping the animal and, thereby, helping the owners, so that desire to help and heal has always been a part of my life. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Oh, I'm not surprised because you are such an awesome person, but, yeah, I'm sure it starts like that for -- it would have to start like that for many people to become veterinarians, this love of animals and growing up with animals, especially on a farm, and, you know, I grew up in a rural area, so I know what you're referring to, but I did not pursue that career because, like, I'm really not good at doing all the stuff you have to do when you're a vet, like beginning with even the injections, so, like, that's not me.  Lucky, we have people like you. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Yeah. 


     >> JOYCE BENDER: So Dr. Maro, you are in holistic medicine.  I have a little story I have to tell everyone, okay, and this is why I wanted her because she's a very good person and she's very truthful, and I had her on -- I had met her because Jasmine, my Yorkie, was having a very difficult -- suddenly difficult time walking, and I was petrified when this happened, and I will not name this, of course, but I went to this one practice where the vet looked at me and said, Well, I hope everything will work out; I mean, I'm not saying you have to consider euthanasia right now.  I said, What?  I started to cry hysterically.  The thought was overwhelming to me.

     So now I hear about this Dr. Maro.  I go to her and start crying when I meet her telling her about Jasmine, and she looked at me and said, Well, what makes you think we won't be able to help Jasmine?  And guess what, folks, she did.  Problem went away.  I mean, she still has issues, I'm sure, but you would never believe how this -- this was amazing how this happened, and that wasn't yesterday, by the way.  This was a while ago, and here Jasmine's still fine, but just that whole orientation that she had when I met her.  And, as I said, I know you're in holistic medicine.  What does that mean, and, also, could you just tell our listeners about your practice. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Yes, I will.  I actually am the senior staff clinician at three veterinary practices, which I own and operate.  One is in Ellwood City, Ellwood Animal Hospital.  That was my first clinic.  I opened there in 1987.  I have an office also in Chippewa Township in Pennsylvania and then Cranberry Holistic Pet Care.  Many people think that "holistic" means alternative medicine, and that's just a small part of it.  "Holistic care" means treating the patient and the underlying causes rather than suppressing symptoms with medications, and I find -- I started in emergency medicine.  I operated my clinic as a 24-hour emergency practice from 1987-1996, and then I started reducing hours for emergencies for patients only until midnight, and -- instead of being there around the clock, and in the early days, I was usually there around the clock.  I lived above my original clinic, and I think that afforded me a great opportunity to see both the beauty of western medicine and the limitations of western medicine.

     So when I am treating -- and most illness is chronic.  Many illnesses are related to nutrition.  And if we just treat with drug therapy, let's say we're treating allergies in dogs and cats or chronic ear infections, which can be a manifestation of allergies, we can use medications, like antibiotics, and we can even try diet change; however, if we don't treat the underlying allergic reaction -- and I'm not talking about -- I used to do intradermal testing for allergies, there's blood allergy testing, but most of the time western medicine says, well, just do avoidance of all allergens.  That alone does not make a healthier body.

     Using treatments and techniques which help alter the immune system and using things like immunotherapy and alternative treatment with the initials NAET I have found to be greatly rewarding because I not only can correct the allergic situation in the body, whether it's physical or emotional or a combination of both, but it helps with cellular processes to create a healthier immune system, and as a positive side effect in treating a lot of these patients with chronic allergies, I've seen things like tumors go away, autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus or pemphigus go away and we can remove medications from the patients and actually wean them off their medications, so it has usually satisfying results.  When clients want to get solutions, then we integrate other forms of medicine, so in our practices, we combine western medicine with many alternative modalities to try to achieve long-term healing.

     And in some cases, patients are able to come off medications, but in many other cases, if they've been on medications for a long time, sometimes we can't get them fully off medication, but we get them to a higher state of health and healthfulness. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Oh, that's a very good -- I don't think people understand what holistic medicine is, so, I mean, I don't -- they don't -- people don't realize that you do practice medicine, but there's this alternative, so --

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Yes. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: -- I'm glad that you explained that because I don't think -- a lot of people don't understand what that is -- I don't think a lot of people understand what that is. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Many health care professionals, including veterinarians do not understand, and I have a position open for an integrated practitioner in my veterinary office currently, and I just interviewed a veterinarian who was a traditional western vet and has an advanced degree in acupuncture, and she came into my practice and said, oh, I thought you only did holistic medicine, I didn't know you did other things, and we had to have a philosophical talk about what holistic or integrative medicine is, so there's even misconceptions within the health care world, and I think that leads to a lot of bad advice giving, whether it's on the human medicine side or the veterinary side, where people who don't have that additional training really don't have a good idea of the scope of this care. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, I'm glad you explained that, and trust me, if you go to one of those three practices -- I'm sorry if you don't live in Pennsylvania, but let me tell you, if you did, if you went to one of these three practices, it is packed.  I mean, it -- she's packed all the time, you know.  It is amazing how busy she is.

     I'll never forget this one gentleman -- and I wish I could describe his pet.  I won't be able to.  It was a larger dog, but he told me he had been coming for years to you for treatment of his animal, and, you know, it seems like you have a lot of people like that that follow you, but I want to get to the talk about the COVID-19.

     As I said, I have people with disabilities that have service animals, but then, of course, we have people without disabilities that have pets.  I always call pets kids with long hair because, let's face it, this is like your child when you have a pet that you love so much.  But people are worried right now.  Like, we had listeners call me because they're worried that, you know, they saw on TV, you know, whenever that tiger had COVID-19, and somewhere they talked about a -- I think a cat having this, so I've had people asking me, oh, you know, can you get infected from your animal because there are people -- like, you know, if they're blind, for example, can they get an infection from their dog or their other types of service animals, whatever it may be?

     But I wanted to ask you how worried should owners be about the coronavirus, and also -- and can that be passed on to the owner and/or can the owner pass that on to their pet? 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: So at this stage, we know that humans can pass COVID to some animals, or at least there have been a few cases, but I will preface this whole thing by saying for the last several months, two veterinary labs -- and they're the largest vet labs in the country -- have been doing surveillance testing, and surveillance testing means, unbeknownst to other veterinarians and myself -- during this early stage of COVID, the two labs, Idexx and Antech Laboratories were taking samples that were submitted for animals having respiratory diseases or gastrointestinal symptoms, and they were just adding in some COVID surveillance testing, and in thousands of samples, they did not come up with any positive cases, so this is not something that is rampant in the animal community, and there are some tests available, and they're for very select cases for veterinarians to use, but we have to carefully screen because we don't want to be using these tests kind of willy-nilly, and the first thing we would want to do -- if an animal presents with respiratory signs is to rule out about 30 other possibilities, both infectious and, like, allergic symptoms, as well as things like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, allergic bronchitis.  All these things can cause respiratory symptoms, so it is much more likely if a pet has respiratory signs, it has some other disease process, and if it has an infectious agent, it is still much more likely that it is one of the viruses or bacterial infections that are common to animals.

     The other cases that have been reported were, exclusive of one -- all the animals had been exposed to a known or suspected COVID-infected human, so it's more likely that a human who's infected with a pet up in the face, maybe sneezing and transmitting bodily fluids, would transmit the virus to a cat or a dog or it is possible to transmit to a ferret as well, but these have been very, very sporadic cases that have popped up. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: So it's very rare, it's infrequent --

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Yes. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: -- but just in case, if that would happen, what should someone look for? 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Well, the animals that we've known about have had respiratory signs, some sneezing, some coughing -- coughing seems like it was the most reported sign -- and the animals recovered uneventfully.  There was a dog -- I believe it was a dog that was 17 years old in one of the -- I believe it was the case in Hong Kong that was ill from other things, other degenerative diseases, that did pass, but it was felt that it was not related to COVID in the case report that I had read.  And I've been trying to keep up with all these case reports through our veterinary information and news system that we use as professionals, but I have not seen anything that was a primary case or a primary cause of death.

     So people should not be in a panic over their pets, but if they have symptoms of any respiratory disease -- we can all share bacteria and bacterial infections and -- from people to animals, so even if you don't have COVID, first, it's not a great idea to be kissing and having the pet in your face.  We want to use the same hygiene procedures that we're using for ourselves to prevent spread and transmission of disease all the time, but especially now with COVID, to be washing our hands frequently and not having pets up in our faces, and if you think you may be coming down or you've been exposed to somebody with COVID, really limit your interactions with the pet. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Okay.  Well, that's good advice.

     So I want you to hear the first part Dr. Maro said, don't panic. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Yes. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: You know, don't -- you're hearing from a scientist here now, not from me, don't panic.  And this is not frequent, so, you know, obviously, if any pet of yours would start having respiratory issues, I'm sure you would go to the vet, so that's what would happen anyway, but this is not frequent.  You heard it from the doctor, so I'm glad that you explained that.

     And, Dr. Maro, before we go on, I wanted to bring something up.  You mentioned -- you know, I'm on the National Board of the Bazelon Center on Mental Health Policy, and many people with depression or bipolar disorder or whatever, anxiety disorders, whatever it is, are really -- some of them are having a very difficult time while they are isolated.  You know, what is your view of a pet helping during that time? 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Oh, absolutely.  I mean, the more interaction we have with others, including animals, the healthier our mental health and emotional outlook are, and I see pets being very instrumental.  Way before COVID, I've often had instances where I've known an elderly client has as their only companion a pet, and I really always have great concerns when I know that pet is aging and I -- you know, I've seen in my own neighborhoods an elderly person out for their daily walk.  When that pet passes, if they don't have other emotional support in place, I usually see a rapid decline in not just physical health but also mental health, and we need that stimulation.  We're not intended to be isolated beings.  We need to receive and give love and affection, and I think that pets fulfill that on many, many levels. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: So that -- that's a good thing then. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Oh, absolutely. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: That's a good thing.  Yeah, that's a good thing. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: I have to say sometimes I see people doting, obsessing, and -- with their own emotional fear-based reactions to the world can negatively impact the animal, and so we all have to remember to have hope, do things logically, take care of our health, and I feel strongly that on the human side, many of the people where we're hearing a perfectly healthy person succumb to the virus -- and I'm not saying that hasn't happened, but what is perfect health?  And that's what, in integrative medicine, we're all looking at.  Is perfect health getting up and eating a sugar doughnut every morning for breakfast and putting four packets of sugar in our coffee?  Even though you may look healthy, what's happening on a cellular basis when the body doesn't have the nutrients and the tools to heal and have very excellent immune function, very balanced immune function, and you hear about this cytokine storm that causes demise and the need for supportive care for humans who have the virus, and we need to look at emotional health and well-being, mental health and well-being and how that helps generate into physical health and well-being, so anxiety can be very crippling, and we've known this for years, you know, things like ulcer conditions and chronic anxiety weaken immune function. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: You know what, I so agree with you.  Before the radio show, I was talking to a friend of mine from a foundation, and she's a tremendous person, and when we were talking, I told her the key I feel, obviously -- this is a terrible time, this is whoever -- no one envisioned this would happen.  I know that I look at it and I think, is this for real?  I mean, it's just unbelievable, what --

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Absolutely. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: -- what a disease can do. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Yes. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: I mean, it's unbelievable. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Well, if I might interject, it's unbelievable what a disease can do, but it's hugely unbelievable to me what the media and press can do with this information in either inciting panic and fear or comfort and hope, and I find that so much of the time -- and I'm not individually blaming anybody because, obviously, news agencies want to sell stories, and what's the quickest way to get a response?  Well, let's report on the negative, the fear-inducing kinds of aspects of a disease process.

     But one of the things that I commented on a few days ago to a colleague is, could you imagine what would have happened in the days of the plague if we had social media, where millions upon millions of people were being wiped out?  And, fortunately, we're not in that situation, but the panic would have been astronomical with the numbers of people passing at the time, and I am not saying it is not tragic when we lose someone, a loved one, friend, relative, or when somebody is infected and they have that very strong anxiety over how is this going to progress.  Those are serious things.  But we can do a lot to generate hope and health and helpfulness to those around us who are impacted, and I think we should focus more on that to reduce the level of anxiety all around us. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Well, I agree with you.  What I was telling my friend that I spoke to is, a key thing to me is that we communicate.  We have to communicate because if we are isolated, we get all these ideas you're talking about, but we need to communicate with one another because what you said before, people need each other and they need kindness and they need, you know, just to -- as you said, to give hope to someone because someone said to me the other day some day this will be in the history books, you know, like the Spanish flu, and I said, yes, it will, and did you hear what you said, some day it will be in the history books, meaning it will pass. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Yes, exactly. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: It can't be in the history books if it's still here, so it will pass.  And it's hard to envision that right now, and, again, I mean, it is terrible, horrible what happened to people in New York and in nursing homes, and just as you said, you know, I'm -- I'm -- that's just terrible.  I pray for families and people all the time, but the choice we have to make is it's one day at a time, and so for that one day, why not have hope, why not be kind, but it's so important to communicate with other people.  I agree with you 100%.

     And if you just joined us, we are talking to Dr. Cynthia Maro, and she is an awesome individual and veterinarian at Cranberry Holistic Pet Care, and Dr. Maro, what are the names of the other two practices you have? 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Ellwood Animal Hospital in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, and Chippewa Animal Hospital in Chippewa Township, but it is called Beaver Falls, PA. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: And I know where both of those things are because way back when I was -- way back in time, I was a substitute schoolteacher at Lincoln High School in Ellwood City, which was about 15 to 20 minutes from my father's garage that he owned and from my grandpa and grandmother's home.  Then I graduated from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, and, also that's the home of the Beaver -- New Brain Hot Dogs, that's it.  New Brain Hot Dogs.  I remember that.  I know where they are, but everyone, if you're listening and you want to go to one of those places and you forget where the practices are, you know how to get me at, and I'll get back to you.

     But right now we're going to break, then we'll be back with Dr. Maro.  This is Joyce Bender, America's voice, where disability matters at  Don't go away.  We'll be right back. 

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     >> You're listening to "Disability Matters."  If you have a question or comment, call in toll free at 1-866-472-5788.  That's 1-866-472-5788.  Now welcome back the host of "Disability Matters," Joyce Bender. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Welcome back to the show, everyone.  We are talking today to Dr. Cynthia Maro, Cranberry Holistic Pet Care Center with two practices in Ellwood -- three altogether, one additional in Ellwood City, one in Chippewa, plus the one in Cranberry, where, actually, I go.

     I wanted to ask you, Dr. Maro, many people, whether they go to the grocery store or whether they go to the pharmacy or anywhere, they are really, really worried about COVID, you know, getting the virus, very worried, sometimes to an extreme level, but I wanted to ask you, what practices do you have in place if someone would have an appointment and come to see you with their pet, do they just walk in?  I mean, what do you do? 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Well, right now we are doing curbside appointments, and curbside appointments mean that when you come to the vet clinic -- we're actually asking people to send in a history about what's been going on with the pet to minimize how much time my staff is spending at the vehicle.  If it were nice outside, each of my practices has an area set up outside that we could see the animal, you know, if we needed to, like carside, but it's so much easier if we can bring the animal in for its examination, so we're asking clients to send in that information, let us know what kind of vehicle they're driving, and we're doing the car hop thing where we go out to the vehicle, and one of my staff will take a history, bring the pet inside, and we're doing our exam, and I have run into a few client situations where people don't want to -- and they're calling it surrendering their pet.  They're certainly not surrendering their pet, we're just taking them on a short walk inside and taking a look at them.

     What I have found almost 100% of the time is animal anxiety is way down with the owner not in the building, and I was shocked by that initially, but we are able to treat some animals that are almost unhandleable when there is a situation or has been a situation historically with kind of the hover parent thing.  I have some owners of small dogs and cats who literally throw their bodies over the animals when I'm about to do the exam, cueing the animal with the information that this is going to be dangerous, so without that situation, the animals are relaxing quite a bit.

     Inside the building -- and we're wearing masks, and we use disinfectant foot baths when we're coming and going so we're not tracking any organisms.  It's a low chance of that, but we still don't want to be tracking in and out.

     My staff are changing into their scrubs when they arrive at work, we are wearing gloves, we use a disinfectant on our gloves because in the initial weeks, pretty much 100% of us had about two layers of skin left of all the layers that had started because we were washing so much, so we went to glove wearing and then disinfecting our gloves.

     And everything we touch, you know, we are disinfecting because we realize that even though it's not a high chance of this, objects and animals could possibly or potentially carry a virus if somebody was sneezing, coughing on their animal right before we pick them up, so we do screen our clients to find out if anybody in the home -- and we ask our clients to let us know if anybody's been COVID positive in the last few weeks because we don't want to have that potential fomite spread on the animals and then have us pick up the organism and bring it anywhere else.  There are huge amounts of glove wearing and hand washing.  We are going through a box of gloves in our practice because of changing of gloves frequently.  If you break a glove, you change that.

     So lots of disinfecting and a lot of screening of the client.  There have been rare instances where we have allowed a client to come in with maybe an extremely aggressive or anxious animal that may need some sedation for a procedure, and we've allowed very occasionally clients to come into the building, and in that case, they go through the foot bath, they go through the disinfecting their hands on the way in, and then we totally disinfect the exam room.  But currently we are not using our exam rooms, we're using our back treatment areas, the staging area, for all physical exams. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Oh, you know what, two things.  First, I never thought of that, but if someone did have the COVID-19 and they sneezed, you know, onto -- you know, with an animal there, with their pet there and then you came and got it, that would not be good now that I -- I never thought of that before, but for anyone --

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Right.  It's not a high risk, but -- I'll tell you, when I go -- I've limited where I go and how often I go anywhere else over work.  I try to limit how many trips I make to the grocery store through the week, and I go through an elaborate sort of disinfection process that's probably a little beyond what most people are doing, but I do understand that there is a potential for people to be touching items and then me to follow, so I take some disinfectant wipes, you know, and when I get home, I leave my shoes in the garage and -- when I come home from work, you know, I do a quick shower also and then go into the kitchen and prepare food, but, you know, I wipe things down when I bring them in from outside because I think it's just a good thing to do, it's a healthy practice, I mean for the time that we're in. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Right.  Well, that's what someone said to me the other day, that they hope that one of the results of this pandemic is that people realize how important it always was to wash your hands and, you know, be observant of hygienic issues, so that would be a good thing because I don't think people realized that it is -- there is a reason they have a sign up, wash your hands before you leave here, so maybe that will be something that will happen after this pandemic.

     But the other thing I want -- that I wondered about is I did wonder, gee, how would that pet be -- on this curbside service that you have, how would the pet be when you took them from the owner into the facility?  Would they be anxious, would they be hard to manage, and here you're telling me it's the opposite. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Yes, it is, for the most part.  And we do -- we have a lot of practices that we use -- you'll hear people talk about fear-free.  Before there was fear-free certification for veterinary professionals, our practices utilized many of the procedures involved with fear-free handling.  We used some calming essential oils, some acupressure techniques to help the animal stay more relaxed, and there's techniques we use in holding that actually reduce anxiety rather than escalate it.

     One of my frustrations frequently -- because I take a lot of veterinary students into my practice for training and for something called externships, and we do preceptorships and internships here, and one of the things I sometimes have to retrain is how we approach an animal when it's about to get an injection or be anesthetized for surgery, and the best way to do that is to not be in a stress event with your restraint technique because those are the animals that every time they see somebody in scrubs or a white coat, they freeze up, start feeling terrified.  I'm just petting them as I'm giving them these injections, and we use the smallest needle that is possible to be used for that size animal, and in -- sometimes I use, like, a topical anesthetic with an essential oil that acts as a topical anesthetic, and then they're not even feeling -- I have many clients who say, aren't you going to give them the shot when they're in the exam room with me, and I have to show them the empty sink so they believe I gave their animal a shot when they're talking to me.  I've had people say, you didn't even give him the injection, what are you doing, what's being done, and holding up that proof that, yes, indeed, I gave it.  When they don't know, the animal behaves better also. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Wow.  In other words, what this means, then -- you know, when you were talking about, as they have to, quote, unquote, surrender their pet, whatever that is, but when you went out -- when you go to get the animal, if the person is, the human, extremely anxious, hovering over, you're meaning that an animal can pick up this from the owner, the animal can pick up anxiety and nervousness from the owner? 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Yes, and so can children because they're looking at nonverbal cues, they're not listening to words, they're listening to how your voice sounds.  They're picking up on pheromones when they know we're fearful, and certainly they get all that anxiety, and dogs in particular look at the owners as a pack leader, and when the pack leader is in fight-or-flight mode, doggie will become very anxious because, obviously, it's the way the pack communicates, so they'll either want to run away or sometimes become combative if an owner is in that state where they're starting to say, well, what do you mean you're going to take my dog or nobody told me this was going to be happening.  Even though, by the way, we're sending out emails and we have something called a Pet Desk App, and we're telling everybody this is happening, it's amazing when people are in a high-stress situation with a sick pet that they don't notice these kinds of things, and I am wondering if some of these folks have been out of their house for the last two months, when they've arrived and said, What do you mean you're taking my pet, can't I go inside, and, you know, we have to have a discussion, but when a person goes into that mode when they want to become combative, the animal will often have a heightened state of awareness of events and be in fear mode. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Wow.  There you go, folks.  Don't do it.  You're passing that on.  You're passing it on.  And I want to say when you said about children, I heard Marlo Thomas speak, this was years ago, at Carlow University, which I was on the board at Carlow, and she was speaking, and she said, always remember there's a little girl watching, and I never forgot that.  Of course, it could be a little girl, a little boy, but Carlow's mainly a women's college that she was trying to connect, but that is so true, that children watch you --

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Yes. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: -- and they hear you and they model you. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Yes. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: You have to remember that.  For example, right now, if you are in panic about, oh, oh, my goodness, people are dying, I'm going to die, I'm going to get this, but if you're in that high panic state, your children will pick that up from you.  Don't you agree with that, Dr. Maro? 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Oh, absolutely.  I see it even in the office when kids are watching, they will often mirror their parents. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: So there you go.  Keep that in mind.  So, Dr. Maro, here's something I read about, I think it was from CDC that I read about this, the problem with seeing an increase in pets being taken to shelters because the owners were enduring such financial hardship that that's what they did.  Have you seen that happening? 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Well, I -- even though I do some work with three area county shelters, I have not been there in the recent weeks, so I do believe there are some people giving up their pets, but I think more frequently what's happening is in older pets and in farm animals, people are noticing, because they're home more, the animal's condition that perhaps they were not noting so carefully previously, and I have seen an increase in euthanasias of animals that have been sort of going along with a state of decline and with people with busy lifestyles and taking children to all of their events and their work and all the extracurricular activities.  Some of these animals, I think, were actually -- I don't want to say being neglected or ignored, but on some level the gravity of their health decline was not being noted, and I do think that's part of the increased busyness of the veterinary practices that are remaining open is that people are taking note of what's going on that's wrong, and we are seeing some people finally making that decision for euthanasia that previously may have been too immersed in other life events to really note what the quality of life of the pet was.

     I have heard reports, especially in large markets, of shelters being a little overwhelmed.  I'm hoping that's leveled off, you know, between stimulus checks and -- I see jobs available almost everywhere I'm going, and people are hiring, I know we are here, for every position we have available.  So I know that -- you know, that some of this is easing up the financial burden.  I'm not going to tell you all of it has, but some of it, it appears in our market to be easing up. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Oh, that's good.  That's good news.

     Well, you know how you -- we humans don't listen, we're supposed to go get a physical and, you know, three years pass and, uh-oh, wait, I was supposed to do that, I was supposed to get a physical.  What about with your pet?  What -- do you -- when you talk to owners, do you make recommendations to them about what they should be doing for their pet healthwise and coming to see a doctor such as yourself? 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Yes.  Actually, if I were just doing straight western conventional care, I feel very strongly that just like for human children, when a pet is in that under-one-year-of-age phase of life, they should be seen -- because they're going through rapid growth.  They should be having developmental exams regularly, and usually that's every three to four weeks for about the first four to five months.

     Now, I'm going to say -- I want to clarify this.  There are many veterinary practices that operate as vaccine and spay and neuter clinics.  What people are going in for is a vaccination.  I feel strongly that if your pet is bonded with you and you want to do true preventive and wellness care, vaccines are not the only part of that.  Good nutrition, good spinal alignment and neurology are very important.  So when we do developmental exams here in my offices, I recommend that we do some animal chiropractic or spinal manipulation appointments because that assures better hip and joint and spinal development when we're being attentive to that.

     And some of my new clients will say, well, he doesn't need an adjustment, he's not having any pain, he jumps off the couch.  Well, if we wait until an animal displays pain, usually there's been years of degenerative condition going on because animals are not laying around saying, oh, I'm in pain, I can't go anywhere.  Think about the people you know who have some severe health problems that never complain.  They go to work and they walk normally.  Animals seem to have, in general, a much better tolerance for minor pain, and if you think about it from an evolutionary standpoint, if you were holding back the pack by laying around and crying in pain, that meant the pack became a target or you became a target within the pack, so animals are much better about not displaying pain.

     So I recommend frequent visits during that first year of life to assure good development, and then on the back side, on the end stages of life, I'm seeing some patients maybe once a month for maintenance, animal chiropractic, and nondrug pain control, and some of that's muscular therapy, some of that is acupuncture, and that is not a hard-and-fast rule, but we want the animals to have as high a quality of life as possible.

     In general, for those adult years of life, when the animal is healthy and active, at least twice a year for an exam, for a wellness exam, and sometimes that does not include vaccinations because vaccines prevent infectious diseases, but they don't address musculoskeletal health, nutrition, and other developmental issues, and aging issues, so that's a synopsis on what I recommend.

     And I do recommend, and I will point this out, more than just a blood count and a blood profile and monitoring and being proactive about health, we do cancer risk assessment exams, with evaluative bloodwork, we also do nutritional assays and make recommendations for dietary changes.  I look at the tissue minerals and heavy metals that animals may be accumulating, which is a big deal in the Pittsburgh market, and -- you know, but it is all over.  Nutrition for all of us, humans and animals, has suffered for the way that we now produce our food substances.  So wellness care is much more involved in our veterinary clinics. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Yes.  Best vet, period, this woman is phenomenal. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Thank you. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: I mean, she is awesome.  So if you're listening to the show and you are in Western Pennsylvania, let's have your phone number here, Dr. Maro.  What's your phone number? And start with Wexford -- or --

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: Or Cranberry.  Yeah, Cranberry is --

     >> JOYCE BENDER:  I'm sorry, Cranberry.  Yes, go ahead.

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: 724-742-3200.  And then Ellwood City is 724-758-8882.  And Chippewa Township is 724-847-7988, but if anybody missed that, you can search the name of the clinics, and we have Facebook pages and we also have websites for each of those clinics that talk a little bit more about the services we provide. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: Okay.  That is excellent because I know a lot of people will be asking me, and I would -- you know, I don't endorse many, but I endorse her and I endorse this practice.  As a matter of fact, she will soon be seeing my neighbor, like, as soon as she's done with this show.  She'll be seeing my neighbor that I referred, so her little pet, Chloe, you'll be meeting Chloe in a very short time period, but I would recommend anyone to you.  I think you are just the best of the best, and that's why I wanted you on today, and, listen, you're listening and saying, oh, my goodness, I wish all these other people had heard this.  So you know what to do, go to Spotify or Apple and subscribe to my show, "Disability Matters" with Joyce Bender on, and you'll be able to get it, and then you can send that podcast to anyone you want or make them aware of it.

     So, Dr. Maro, in closing, I have to ask you, what do you consider your greatest accomplishment? 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: This is the hardest question for me to answer because I don't really feel like I'm special in any way, and I mean beyond what anybody else is.  We all have our gifts, we have our strengths, and we have our weaknesses, and goodness knows, I'm human, but as far as my greatest accomplishment, here's what I love about what I do, and it often happens when we're considering -- because I treat chronic cases -- life-and-death situations for animals.  When I can impact somebody's life and their outlook and perspective on life and death, I feel a great sense of fulfillment, and if I have time, I'd like to tell a quick example, a very short story that happened about three to four years ago.  Do I have a moment -- moment?  Do we have a little time? 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: You have two minutes. 

     >> DR. CYNTHIA MARO: I can do that.  The client I had known since 1988, and he was in his 80s, early 80s, but a very vibrant man, and his companion he took to work -- he was a trades person.  He took this dog to work every day.  He had cancer, and this gentleman said to me, If this dog dies, I don't think I want to go on.  Now, I also knew many of his family members and his wife, and we had a very long talk about love and the lessons that that animal was sharing with him, even as we spoke about his -- you know, his decline, the dog's decline because of the cancer.

     And he really shifted his perspective to one of hope, and he said, this dog is -- I said, This dog is teaching you everything about love and parting graciously and not holding onto a body that is failing, and -- but he's also taught you how to love unconditionally, and maybe it's time to transfer some of those feelings he's shared, take them in as your own and transfer those to those people who have disappointed and failed you in ways that you have not forgiven or let go of.  I find -- I mean, I don't have this relationship with every single client, but I find it beautiful when we have that very, very wonderful, open kind of conversation, and he made a big shift, and after his pet passed, he thanked me, and his wife later thanked me because it kind of opened up and renewed a more intimate relationship between the two of them, more emotionally intimate, and so often we could be using our relationships with our animals as a model for the relationships we have with humans in our lives, and I think if I can help somebody towards that perspective, that is a truly beautiful thing. 

     >> JOYCE BENDER: I will tell you what.  I can't think of a more beautiful ending to my radio show than that, and I will say this quote, “We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals,” said Immanuel Kant. 

     This is Joyce Bender, America's voice, where "Disability Matters" at  Don't forget Dr. Cynthia Maro.  Talk to you next week.      

     >> VoiceAmerica would like to thank you for tuning in.  Please join us next Tuesday at 11:00 Pacific Time and 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time for another installment of "Disability Matters" right here on


     Session concluded at 1:58 p.m. CT)


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