WORDS Joshua Brosnahan PHOTO Todd Couper

Becky Hadfield, a registered animal naturopath and vet nurse, moved to Christchurch from the United Kingdom over 20 years ago, after meeting her Kiwi husband Adam.

Becky has always had a passion for animals, having grown up in rural England surrounded by sheep, horses, dogs, and cats. Together the pair have two teenage children, Katie and Will, plus a miniature schnauzer Stanley, and two Dorper sheep – the ‘pet lawnmowers’ Rosie and Posy.

In New Zealand, Becky retrained as a vet nurse at Ara Institute of Canterbury, and studied a four year Diploma in Natural Animal Health. This was after earning a degree in Agricultural Science from London University, and working as a pharmaceutical hospital representative. She felt it was time to follow her true passion of animal health. Becky is currently the only registered animal naturopath in the South Island. This lead her to establish ‘My Natural Animal Health Clinic’.

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Post-earthquakes, Becky had a large number of requests from owners with pets in need of support for their anxiety symptoms. According to Becky, this issue manifests itself in many ways from aggression to gut issues, to self-harm and skin disorders.

Six years later, thanks to word of mouth referrals between happy pet owners, the clinic client base now exceeds 500 pets from all over the country.

Becky says that pet owners are more proactive and knowledgeable nowadays regarding health for themselves and their families, and this has now expanded to include their ‘fur babies’ as well.

“With the Internet, there is a wealth of information on animal health available, however, some is opinion, not fact.

When natural medicine and veterinary medicines are used together, often there is a lower minimum dose of chemicals, and ultimately the side effects are reduced with long term drug use. Natural medicines can offer improvement and relief to a greater or lesser degree depending on the animals’ diagnosed health issue,” Becky says.

The modern day world is fast-paced, and pets love routine and company. When left alone for long periods of time, or when pets have no set exercise routine, then they can, unfortunately, develop psychological health issues, that will manifest as a physical issue in time if not addressed swiftly.

Some common symptoms caused by stress can be paw licking, ear infections, gut issues, scratchy itchy skin, red hot ‘pyoderma’ spots, or even depression. Herbal medicines can really help these cases, as the body knows how to use them.

Although the animal can’t communicate to Becky in words exactly what is wrong, the symptoms and behaviour changes noticed by the owner and displayed by the pet gives her a ‘mountain of information’ to work with.

One recent case that comes to mind for Becky was a young dog that had an injury operated on due to an impaled stick. The wound was reluctant to heal, even with the owner’s repeated trips to the vet for antibiotics. Five months after the injury, a new wound appeared next to the surgical site. After regular bathing and wound care using Medicated Honey, and a Chinese herbal formula with zinc supplements, the wound slowly began to shrink and heal.

“I love my work. It doesn’t feel like work, as it feeds my soul. Animals are so forgiving and give us as humans so much in return, for our care. I allow time to really listen and get to know my clients and their beautiful pets. Every animal is unique, and I value the opportunity to treat them as such.”