Vet practices acupuncture on pets
Pets often have the same illnesses or pains people do. This inspired Dr. Wendy Robinson to use acupuncture, a technique traditionally thought of as a remedy for arthritis and other ailments in humans, for her animal patients.
Robinson, an associate at the Sierra Pet Clinic, uses the treatment to complement mainstream techniques. Often, anti-inflammatories have side effects, she said. With acupuncture, the dosage of medications can be reduced or eliminated. It gives pet owners other options for relieving their pet’s pain.
Acupuncture can be used to relieve pain in dogs, cats, horses and other animals with arthritis, kidney disease and skin or respiratory problems.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment used to release tension, using needles at a number of different trigger points in the body. There are 365 acupuncture points, some lining the muscles around the vertebrae from the top of the neck to the lower back, around the eyes and even on the toes.
According to Chinese tradition, the method is used to rebalance energy flow in the body that travels along 12 main pathways, or meridians. Western medicine adopted the technique after discovering it stimulates nerves, increases circulation and releases the body’s own pain reducers.
Robinson uses as little as eight needles, or as many as 25-30, depending on the illness of the animal. The procedure is painless, and while some animals, and pet owners, are nervous at first, they usually calm down after one treatment.
“I found that if I just go slow and take my time…for the most part, they’re quite accepting of it,” she said.
Robinson treats her own dog, Sonja for hip and elbow dysplasia and arthritis. It has worked well in her hip, but because elbows are typically more difficult to treat, it hasn’t had the result she hoped.
Sonja and other pets can get up easier and are not as stiff during a walk after the treatment.
“I find there’s an increase in energy. They’re just acting younger and spunkier,” Robinson said.
Repeated treatments tend to build on each other, producing more relief over time, she said. Appointments range from a half-hour to an hour, and the length of the treatment depends on the seriousness of the condition. She also uses herbs, vitamin B or electricity during some treatments.
Robinson began using acupuncture to treat pets when she had results using the method herself, and was looking also for a pain release for animals. She took classes to become certified and started practicing the method in December.
At the Pet Expo, an event sponsored by the Humane Society at Truckee Regional Park, Robinson will answer questions and talk with pet owners about whether acupuncture is right for their pets.
For more information, call the Sierra Pet Clinic at 587-7200.