The Dog Doc

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Dog Doc Movie Poster Image
Touching docu about pioneering holistic vet has sad moments.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 102 minutes

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Positive Messages

Positive messages about believing that animals, like humans, can be treated holistically with a combination of traditional and alternative medicine options. Promotes integrative medicine, particularly integrative veterinary medicine, while also encouraging people to get the best care possible for their beloved pets. Themes include compassion, empathy, teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dr. Marty and other vets and techs clearly love their animal patients, want to help boost their immune systems and stop their pain and suffering. Entire office is full of animal lovers who treat their animals with care, compassion, respect. Most people featured are White, with notable exception of Dr. Marty's wife, who's Asian American, and their daughters.


No violence, but definitely sadness. Several dogs have serious/terminal illnesses; a few live longer but don't survive. One dog is so filled with cancer that there's not much the clinic can do; his family decides to focus on quality of life and then have him put to sleep. It can be difficult to see interviews with grieving human companions. One cryosurgery is pretty graphic, and a few times audiences see blood on the vets' gloves and tools.


A married couple hugs and holds hands.


One use of "s--t." Also insult language like "crazy," "quack," "snake-oil salesman," and "kook."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Jokes about Dr. Goldstein being a hippie and how one vet expected his office to be full of people "smoking dope and hugging."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Dog Doc is a documentary about pioneering veterinarian Dr. Martin Goldstein. Goldstein is one of the most well-known vets to practice holistic, integrative medicine (a combination of traditional and alternative medical practices) on his animal patients. The film follows Dr. Marty and his colleagues as they treat dogs and cats with various illnesses by using everything from acupuncture and nutritional supplements to state-of-the-art cryosurgery. While there's no violence, you can expect a few potentially sad/upsetting scenes of people crying about their sick (or terminal) dogs. A couple of the dogs do die despite treatment, one surgery is pretty graphic, and audiences see blood on the vets' gloves and tools. One vet tech says "s--t" once, but other than that, language consists of insults. Themes include compassion, empathy, and teamwork.

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What's the story?

THE DOG DOC follows pioneering holistic veterinarian Dr. Martin Goldstein, whose New York animal clinic, Smith Ridge, is known for treating animals -- particularly dogs and cats -- with a combination of traditional and alternative medical care. Director Cindy Meehl interviews Dr. Marty's staff, including fellow vets, various techs (including his wife), and the many dog lovers who bring their sick pets to Smith Ridge, often as a last resort. Although some people admit that previous vets were skeptical of Dr. Marty's methods, they all end up grateful for the customized integrative care their ailing dogs receive.

Is it any good?

This is a moving, thought-provoking documentary about how a holistic veterinarian and his staff have changed the way to treat pets that have serious illnesses. Like alternative medical providers who treat humans, Dr. Marty has been called a quack, a kook, and a snake-oil salesman for his unconventional approach to veterinary medicine, but he has the case studies and grateful patients to prove that his approach works. A graduate of Cornell University's revered College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Marty definitely gives off "old hippie" vibes, but his partners and the people who bring their pets to his clinic are a cross-section of mostly affluent Westchester County humans who usually come to Smith Ridge after other vets give them the proverbial "there's nothing more we can do" speech.

The Dog Doc focuses on positive feedback, but Meehl also interviews people who are skeptical of Goldstein's approach, including friends and colleagues who initially thought he was "crazy" until they saw his results for themselves. Even one of his Smith Ridge associates wasn't initially on board with alternative medicine, but she eventually grew to respect and admire Dr. Marty -- and leave another practice to join his. Of the various dogs featured, audiences will likely grow most attached to Waffles, an adorable puppy with various serious issues, and Mulligan, a big fluffy dog whose human has changed her own diet and exercise plan after being exposed to Dr. Marty's philosophies about health and wellness. There are some sad moments (one dog's cancer is so widespread he can't be helped much), but this is ultimately an optimistic exploration of how veterinary science has adapted to treat the whole animal.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Dog Doc promotes compassion, empathy, and teamwork. Why are these important character strengths?

  • In what ways do you consider Dr. Goldstein a role model? How is he perceived in the veterinary medicine community?

  • What do you think of Dr. Marty? Why is he such a compelling subject for a documentary?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

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