News Item | PAWS Chicago

The Royal Treatment

by Karen O’Shaughnessy | May 01, 2012

A book review

Dr. Barbara Royal, DVM is widely recognized for her groundbreaking work with camels, elephants and zebras as well as domestic dogs and cats. She has attracted the attention of Oprah Winfrey, who relies upon her for veterinary services. Dr. Royal’s practice on Chicago’s North Side is aptly named Royal Treatment Veterinary Services. Up next for this busy practitioner? Book publishing. 

Her debut title, The Royal Treatment: How to Keep Your Pets as Wildly Healthy as Nature Intended will be published this summer (2012) by Simon & Schuster. In the expanding market of holistic pet care, Dr. Royal’s part-guide, part-memoir, part-advice book is conveyed in reader-friendly style. It presents her innovative concept of “wild health,” which she says helps restore the innate health of animals in zoos, in the wild and in domestic environments.

The volume includes many practical nuggets, such as recommendations of simple practices that may save pet owners money on unnecessary medical bills while simultaneously improving their pets’ well-being. For example, although many vets recommend annual vaccinations for conditions like parvo and distemper, Dr. Royal believes yearly shots often are unwarranted. “Many of these vaccinations last a lifetime.” Instead, she administers periodic blood tests to determine whether they are still potent.

While raw food isn’t appropriate for every pet, Dr. Royal and others assert that many dogs and cats show a decrease in a wide range of medical conditions when following the regimen. Although raw food is more expensive than many other alternatives, she recommends pet owners consider the strong possibility of lower vet bills down the road. (If necessary, be thrifty by alternating commercial and raw food.) 

Dr. Royal’s method of care bridges Western and Eastern treatment; she eschews an “either or” approach. Instead, depending on a pet’s particular condition or disease, she may combine a short course of medication with a complementary practice such as massage or acupuncture. 

“I love school and learning about new treatments,” says Dr. Royal, who has traveled widely to complete special training in acupuncture, herbal medicine and rehabilitation for the pet set.

An international lecturer, Dr. Royal’s use of acupuncture on zoo animals has been covered by the national media. Her practice has been highlighted in the New York Times and Newsweek, among other media outlets, and she has appeared on “The Oprah Show.” She is vice president of The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, whose presidency she will assume in 2013. Dr. Royal is on the Board of Directors and is a consultant for PAWS Chicago.

Top 5 Tips you will find in The Royal Treatment to cut down on vet bills and improve your pet’s overall health:


  1. Feed your dog or cat a species-appropriate food. Just as hummingbirds need hummingbird food; dogs and cats require carnivore food – which means no corn, no wheat and no high amounts of hidden carbs or fillers.
  2. Don’t feed carcinogens, toxins or unwanted medications. This may seem obvious, but Dr. Royal will show you how to look at your label to see what is really in the pet food. You may be shocked to know these items are more common than you think.
  3. Keep pets lean. Friends don’t let furry friends get fat. Plus, the crucial difference between how a dog, versus, a cat should lose weight. 
  4. Don’t over-vaccinate. Which vaccines are required by law? Which ones are most needed and when? Which vaccines may be not needed, and what adverse reactions can they cause? Judicious use of vaccinations is essential for long-term health. With a careful approach to vaccination, you can not only save money, but also improve the long-term health of your pet.
  5. Replace all plastic bowls with metal or glass. Plastic causes allergic reactions in many pets; replacing plastic bowls with metal or glass can help resolve allergies and skin problems, particularly around the mouth.

Start these easy changes today to keep your pet wildly healthy.