A new documentary film called The Dog Doc (2019) recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. I had the chance to see the movie and, as a pet parent, it absolutely blew me away.
All dog parents MUST SEE this film! If you are an animal lover of any kind, I strongly recommend checking it out. This documentary might just change your life–and the lives of your furry loved ones–for the better.
Here’s what I thought of the film, along with our discussion about integrative veterinary medicine, working with animals, and how to be a better pet parent.
Who Is The Dog Doc?
The Dog Doc focuses on Dr. Marty Goldstein’s integrative veterinary medicine practices. He graduated from Cornell in 1973 and began working as a traditional vet.
Working long hours and surviving on junk food began to take a toll on his health. He was constantly getting sick and diagnosed with chronic bursitis and arthritis.
Not wanting to take antibiotics and steroids, he began searching for alternatives.
Through holistic supplements and a healthier lifestyle, Dr. Goldstein learned how to allow his body to heal itself in a more natural way. He had incredible results, and he wanted to educate pet parents and help animals in the same way that he did with himself.
I learned so much watching this film. There is so much information in this documentary that, if you’re a pet parent like I am, you’ll want to see it more than once.
What Makes Dr. Goldstein So Different?
I wanted to know why director Ciny Meehl chose to profile Dr. Goldstein for this documentary. What made him so special, and how did she come to know about him?
That story began 28 years ago.
Back then, Cindy’s dog was sick, and she wasn’t sure if her pup would survive another day. The antibiotics and steroid prescriptions didn’t seem to help. But after seeing Dr. Goldstein, her dog wound up living another six years.
Here’s what she had to say about the experience.
JULIA: How did you hear about Dr. Goldstein and his integrative medicine?
CINDY MEEHL: 28 years ago, I had a very sick dog who was six years old and dying. I was literally in a dog food store, and I was sobbing because I didn’t even know if she would be alive when I got home.
A woman said to me, “You should take this dog to see Dr. Marty Goldstein.”
Through my tears, I said I didn’t think she was going to make it that long. But I did get her there within a day or two.
He totally turned my life around, her life around, and it was very simple.
After seeing the very best vets in New York and Connecticut, he said what you are doing isn’t working. We are going to take this dog off these antibiotics and steroids that she has been on for years, and we’re gonna do something natural because the body’s trying to do something, and you keep suppressing it.
That simple statement really kinda changed my life because I thought, you know, he’s right. And I have been taking my animals to him ever since. This dog lived another six years. She rebounded in the most healthy way–it was a miracle.
Combining Eastern And Western Medicine
It’s so wild to think that, not very long ago, even glucosamine sulfate was considered an unacceptable form of treatment for arthritic dogs, so much so that Dr. Goldstein’s license was once threatened for prescribing it. Here’s what he had to say about the growing popularity of such treatments.
JULIA: In the film you talk about Integrated Medicine, combining the best of eastern and western treatments. Do you believe this concept is becoming more mainstream?
DR. GOLDSTEIN: Slowly but surely. I prove that through the timeline of when I first became aware of alternatives for my own health. I was certified in acupuncture.
My license was threatened in 1978 for treating arthritic dogs with glucosamine sulfate, and now hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars [of supplements are] sold every year.
We went all the way fast forward to a study that was published two months before I lectured at Cornell on the anti-pain and anti-inflammation effect of CBD oil, and the study was done at Cornell University. There was time to come full circle, and we need to start accepting all these natural, non-invasive therapies that are now being proven [effective] in Universities.
Are We Vaccinating Too Much?
Vaccines prevent a lot of terrible diseases, and when used correctly, they keep our dogs–and us–much safer. However, the current legal requirements for pet vaccines don’t take into account new data on when pets shouldn’t receive a vaccine, or when we’re over-vaccinating them.
Pet parents, make a note of this: If an animal has a compromised immune system, do not let them get vaccinated! Not all vets are aware of this. Make a mental note, put it in bold, and underline it twice. Dr. Goldstein recommends getting a medical exemption in those cases.
Here’s what Dr. Goldstein had to say about vaccines.
JULIA: You made it clear that you are not against vaccinations, but in traditional medicine, a dog must usually receive vaccinations on a routine schedule and standard dosing. Vets often give a Great Dane and a Chihuahua the same amount. In your opinion, how can pet parents avoid over-vaccinating?
DR. GOLDSTEIN: They have to become educated right now. It’s no longer my opinion that that’s true. I’ve quoted scientific data and the literature that has proven it; it’s just that so much of conventional medicine has not caught on to the current data in reference to vaccines.
The other point the documentary made is that, even though something like rabies [vaccine] is legally mandated, if the animal is sick, they should not receive any vaccination. They can get a medical exemption from that vaccine until they are well.
What’s Up With Inflammation?
As a pet parent, or as someone generally interested in good health, you’ve probably heard a lot about inflammation lately. Sometimes we have difficulty finding information that is both accurate and put in a way that pet parents can understand.
What Dr. Goldstein had to say about it was really insightful. Half the time I don’t even know what a doctor is talking about, but he does a really nice job explaining inflammation so that everyone can understand it. Here are his thoughts.
JULIA: The documentary mentions inflammation. What is inflammation, how does it adversely affect an animal’s health, and what is the best way for pet parents to reduce it?
DR. GOLDSTEIN: The suffix in latin for inflammation is called “itis,” and if you notice so many new diseases that we see in the field of medicine end with itis. Conjunctivitis, otitis, enteritis, colitis.
Inflammation is nature at its work. If you sprain your ankle, it gets swollen. If you get punched in the eye, it gets swollen. That’s the body bringing immunity to the area to heal it.
If you suppress inflammation, which we’ve done so well in the medical field, you will feel better quickly because the system gets suppressed, but so does the immune system. And to me, the proof in the pudding is that I’ve witnessed the incidents of cancer at least quadruple since I graduated Cornell in 1973.
Cancer is an immune suppressive disease–where something fowls up the immune system. It’s not a disease that attacks the body. So we have to take a better look at why nature creates symptoms and sometimes work along with those symptoms…
Like cindy says that I taught her with her dog, there is a reason your dog is running his high fever, not so much the suppressive drug. But you hit on one of my main points to teach the veterinary profession.
A Common Sense Approach
We treat our dogs as family members, so we want to stay updated on the latest health information for their benefit. However, there’s tons of research out there, and it’s hard to know what’s true. Dr. Golstein has some advice for that predicament, too.
He says that when you find with so much conflicting information, sit down and think about it for yourself, and don’t be afraid to use common sense. Here are his thoughts.
JULIA: In a world with so much conflicting information, are there any sources that you recommend for information on the internet?
DR. GOLDSTEIN: Not really. There are good books out there. One source that I always go back to is common sense. Don’t take everything that you read as true, and so much of what I’ve learned over my career, I didn’t learn from anyone or any book or any internet, it just made sense to me.
When I looked at why pet food was created or what a dog should eat, when I looked at the annual vaccinations, in those days, it just didn’t make sense to me. So don’t take everything to heart. You’ll get a gut feeling if something seems or feels real or correct to you, and cross compare them to other references, and choose what you feel to be true.
There is more than one way to make any patient better. There is not one magic bullet and, you know, the internet, as great as it is, it’s bringing mass confusion.
I have clients come to me with boxes full of 35 different supplements for their dog, and their dog died of cancer. “Well I tried this and I tried that…” So there is mass confusion with the internet, and we don’t really know which [source] is right, so don’t be afraid to use common sense.
Hope For A New Generation Of Vets
Times have changed a lot when it comes to veterinary medicine. It was really tough finding a holistic vet ten years ago. Now there are several in my immediate area.
Dr. Goldstein’s research used to be considered highly controversial. In some ways, it still is, but Dr. Goldestein is hopeful for new veterinarians who are starting to ask questions. Here are some of his thoughts about future vets.
JULIA: In the film, you talked about going to your Alma Mater, Cornell, 20 years ago to speak to your colleagues about this incredible breakthrough work you were pioneering, and they didn’t take you seriously. In your most recent return to Cornell, a generation of new students embraced your findings and seemed eager to learn more about integrative medicine. Does that give you hope for the future of veterinary medicine?
DR. GOLDSTEIN: It absolutely does and one of those students last week contacted my clinic, to see if she can come in over the summer and shadow me and my associate doctors.
So yes, and what was interesting is there was a filming set up for 15 minutes after my 35-minute presentation, and a whole bunch of other students stayed for another hour to ask more questions about what we’re trying to bring forth.
A Director Who Loves Animals
The Dog Doc is not Cindy Meehl’s directorial debut, nor is it her first film about animals. I wanted to ask her more about her history working on animal movies and what challenges she faces.
JULIA: You made your directorial debut with a film called Buck (2011), about the real life horse whisperer Buck Brannaman, which earned nominations for and won many awards. Have you found any challenges in working with animals in your films?
CINDY MEEHL: This is one of my favorite subjects. I really love working with animals–I would probably rather work with animals than people half the time. I love people, and I have a huge heart for animals.
The hardest thing for me was watching animals come in. They weren’t all sick sick, ya know, but when they did come in, and the owner was really stressed out and the animal was definitely not feeling his best… I have been there so many times in that same clinic and know what that felt like. So I found the whole ride very emotional for myself because I empathize so much with the client and the patient.
But I loved every minute of it.
[The Dog Doc] was the most amazing thing I’ve ever worked on because it was so personal to share what I had been living for the last 27 years.
What Can You Learn From The Dog Doc?
I learned so much watching this film, and I definitely walked away from it as a better pet parent. There’s so much valuable information that’s relevant to your pet’s health, as well as your own. I wanted to ask the director what she thought viewers like me should know after watching the documentary.
JULIA: What would you like people to take away from this film?
CINDY MEEHL: There is so much I would like people to take away from this film. I really just want people who love their dog to have more time with their dog, and have quality time with their dog.
We don’t want to be at the vet with our dog. We want to be at home playing in the yard with them, having them on the couch while were watching tv.
So to me–I’ve said this before–I really think people should realize from this film that their dog is an individual.
They know their dog. If they’ve been going to a vet and are continuing to treat the same problem a year later or even months later, that perhaps they need to think about doing something different. Maybe changing their vet, or changing food, or doing something different, because dogs’ general nature is healthy.
They shouldn’t be out there eating a bunch of junk food, like we do, ourselves. You can give people supplements all day long, but if they are eating crappy food, it’s not going to fix the problem. You kinda gotta start at the base line of what you’re putting into the tank and you gotta give them good food.
I hope people will think about what they are doing with their children, what they’re doing with their own health, how they are treating their dogs, and really sort of look at the whole lifestyle, the whole big picture. If things aren’t working, if they feel bad or their dog feels bad, then think about what you can change, and maybe just start with your vet, or maybe hopefully you can go in and listen to your vet in a different way or ask different questions, or say, “Let’s try this,” because I really think vets are desperate to find new ideas and things that will work.
They don’t want to see a sick pet, either. They want to help them, but a lot of them have not been taught alternatives that could be in their tool box, too. But it’s something you really do have to study and learn. It’s not like you’re gonna pick it up from the Google internet in five minutes–you do have to research it.
This stuff is all documented–even Vitamin C therapy is documented. There are studies on this, so when people try to say there are no studies–there really are.
The Dog Doc Shows The Future Of Veterinary Medicine
20 years ago, people were walking out of Dr. Goldstein’s lectures. Today, people refer to him as a pioneer and founding father of holistic veterinary medicine. We sure have come a long way in this area.
The biggest take away for me from this film is to try to have a more open mind when it comes to new ideas and concepts. Sometimes we grow so set in our ways and beliefs that it can hinder us.
One of the most controversial topics today is dog food. If you search the internet, you’ll find pages that support every side of every argument about the subject. However, I think Dr. Marty summed it up best when he said, “Don’t be afraid to use common sense.”
Please keep in mind that we all have to make choices for ourselves and our families, dogs included. It doesn’t usually help when we are critical of other people’s choices.
This film is a huge wealth of knowledge. In watching it, you will learn so much and possibly even want to make some changes that will benefit your dog–and even your entire family!
The film just premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, but be sure to keep on eye on The Dog Doc‘s homepage for updates on how you can see it for yourself.
To learn more about Dr. Marty Goldstein Check out some of his pages!
Thanks so much to Cindy Meehl and Dr. Marty Goldstein for their great insight and work on making this film, and for spreading this information to all pet parents to help our fur babies live longer, healthier lives.
Are you planning to see The Dog Doc? What do you think of Dr. Goldstein’s approach to veterinary medicine? Let us know in the comments below!