Acupuncture for Pets

Acupuncture/Acupressure for Dogs

The advances of modern medicine have improved the quality and lengthened the life spans of both “man and beast.” New medical advancements are extraordinary, yet many veterinarians are turning to a form of the ancient medicine to help their patients. Utilizing centuries-old techniques of acupuncture and acupressure may enhance traditional veterinary medicine and further benefit the canine community.

What is acupuncture?

Ancient Chinese medicine is based on the philosophy that illness is caused by an imbalance of vital energies in the body. Acupuncture is one aspect of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) that focuses on restoring the energy balance in the body and promoting healing. In other words, acupuncture is used to help the body heal itself by correcting energy imbalances in the body.

The technique requires the insertion of fine needles into the dog’s body at specified points, called acupuncture points, where nerves and blood vessels converge. These points are located in sites called meridians, which are energy channels that transmit energy throughout the dog’s body.

The inserted needles guide “chi” or vital energy along the meridians. Placed in these identified points, the needles enhance blood circulation which improves healing ability. Acupuncture also stimulates the nervous system and increases the release of anti-inflammatory and pain relieving substances to reduce a dog’s discomfort.

Similar to acupuncture, another technique called acupressure, which involves applying pressure to acupuncture points rather than inserting a needle, is another option. This less invasive technique is preferred for locations that are hard to reach with needles, or for dogs that may not tolerate the needles.

How do acupuncture and acupressure help?

Acupuncture improves blood flow which increases oxygenation of tissues. It also reduces the amount of waste products produced and increases the amount of metabolic waste the body can remove, so there is a systemic benefit.

Acupuncture relaxes muscles both where the needle is inserted, and muscles located elsewhere in the body, so it relieves pain both locally and generally. By stimulating the release of naturally occurring pain relieving and anti-inflammatory substances, acupuncture may decrease the amount of pain medications needed to treat these dogs.

Most pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs are quite safe but may affect organ function, so veterinarians closely monitor organ function through routine laboratory testing to minimize the risk. Acupuncture has no systemic side effects, so it is particularly helpful for dogs in poor health.

“Acupuncture has no systemic side effects, so it is particularly helpful for dogs in poor health.”

As with most medical protocols, a combination of treatments often provides the best results. Fortunately, acupuncture and medical therapy can be safely used together, which is beneficial when neither method can provide the desired response alone.

What conditions can acupuncture treat?

Acupuncture is often used to treat dogs with arthritis and joint inflammation. For example, dogs with hip dysplasia or degenerative joint disease are good candidates for acupuncture, which may alleviate pain and improve joint range of motion. Dogs with chronic back pain and even dogs with serious spinal cord conditions also benefit from acupuncture.

Less serious medical problems are also treated with acupuncture. Lick granulomas are lesions on the legs of dogs that continuously lick a spot causing an irritated sore and exposing superficial nerve endings. These lesions are often difficult to heal and acupuncture may be a good complement to antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.

“Acupuncture may be a good complement to antibiotics and anti-inflammatory
medications.”

It should be noted that although acupuncture can reduce pain and inflammation associated with many different medical conditions, traditional medicine is the first line of treatment for infection, cancer, and major organ disease. However, some issues associated with cancer, or the side effects of cancer treatment (chemotherapy and radiation) such as tissue inflammation, nausea, and decreased appetite, can be helped using acupuncture. Veterinary acupuncturists have treated patients with metabolic diseases associated with impaired organ function. Dogs with diabetes, kidney or liver failure, pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease have experienced a decrease in nausea and an increase in appetite after acupuncture sessions. So, even if acupuncture or acupressure cannot cure a condition, they may make it more tolerable.

What is a typical acupuncture session like?

The first appointment with a veterinary acupuncturist involves a general medical assessment. The primary care veterinarian will send medical records outlining a history of the dog’s condition to the acupuncturist. Lab tests, radiographs, and current medical therapy will be documented so the acupuncturist is fully informed. The veterinary acupuncturist will perform his own physical examination, discuss treatment options, and explain exactly what happens during an acupuncture session.

Even though the patient dog may be a little nervous in a new clinical setting, most become very relaxed after needle insertion. Depending on the conditions addressed, the actual session may last 20-30 minutes. The doctor outlines a treatment protocol that may involve one to three sessions per week for several weeks. Often, the number of sessions is tapered off as the dog improves, so visits are scheduled less frequently.

The effects of acupuncture treatment are cumulative so there is a benefit to repeated sessions, but the goal is to achieve the greatest degree of improvement and maintain that level with the fewest treatments necessary. There are few side effects with acupuncture, but some dogs may be sore or stiff following a treatment session, while other patients appear tired. These symptoms usually resolve within 24-48 hours.

How do you find a veterinary acupuncturist?

Your dog’s primary care veterinarian can help you determine if acupuncture is a good option and can also help you find a local veterinary acupuncturist. The two veterinarians will communicate so that each doctor stays updated on your dog’s condition. There are more than 150,000 certified veterinary acupuncturists in the US who have completed an extensive course of study, so locating one close by is usually not a problem.

The combination of old and new medicine is often one that produces good results for many dogs.

Here at Harmony Animal Hospital, we offer acupuncture through Dr. Clines.

Contributors: Lynn Buzhardt, DVM

© Copyright 2015 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

Don’t Let Rover Blow Over This Hurricane Season

While other residents are buying batteries and calculating escape routes, pet owners are most concerned with their precious pets. One of the most common concerns at this time of year is what will happen to our pets if a hurricane strikes.

If your home is in a vulnerable area, it may become necessary to leave during the threat of a major hurricane. In this situation, the welfare of a pet becomes a real problem. While it may be possible and ideal to take your pet with you to the safe home of a family member or friend, some residents may not have this option.

If it becomes necessary to evacuate your home you may need to spend some time in a Red Cross Shelter. Unfortunately, due to health reasons, Red Cross Shelters will not accept pets. Some people have chosen to stay in an unsafe home with their pets rather than go to shelters without them. If it’s not safe for you to stay in your home during an emergency, it’s not safe for them either!

Plan ahead.
It is always important to plan ahead and even make advance reservations if necessary. You may have to bring your pet into the Pet Hurricane Shelter eight or more hours in advance of the hurricane. The shelter personnel will secure all of their charges and then make their own plans to be sure their homes and families are safe. Most shelters will not be able to accommodate you or your pet at the last minute so make your plans early.

Keep medical records on hand
Be sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and have proof available. If you are a client of ours you can download our app where your pet’s info is available at all times. Go to our website, click on the Pet Records tab and Sign Up. Instructions will be sent to you from there and now you will have peace of mind that that is one less piece of paper you have to drag with you. Pet Hurricane Shelters will not accept unvaccinated animals. Dogs should be up-to-date on distemper, parvovirus and rabies vaccines. A bordetella vaccine (also called kennel cough) is necessary within the last 12 months. For cats, they should have had their yearly panleukopenia (also known as distemper) combo vaccine (with rhinotracheitis and calicivirus), as well as rabies. In addition, they should be up-to-date on the feline leukemia vaccine, or have had a recent negative test for this disease.

Stock plenty of your pet’s medications
Keep on hand those medications that your pet needs to take on a routine basis including heartworm pills. If you’re taking your pet to a shelter, it is also a good idea to bring your pet’s food and enough bottled water to last your pet for at least three days. If the power goes out water may not be available.

Have a roomy crate available
Since the Pet Hurricane Shelters will fill up their facility over their usual capacity in order to accommodate as many pets as possible, it is a good idea to have a roomy crate available so the shelter can house your pet. They may have more pets needing care than there are kennels or runs available. You may also want to use this crate at home, since frightened animals may exhibit behavior changes. Familiarize your pet with the crate until he or she feels comfortable and secure in it. Place identification on the crate as well as your pet (see below).

Call ahead
Not all Pet Hurricane Shelters are equipped or knowledgeable enough to handle your bird and exotic pets. Call ahead to find out which shelter would be most appropriate and what requirements you might have to meet. Have an appropriate cage or enclosure for your bird or exotic pet, as most shelters (including ours) cannot guarantee the availability of enough space to house these critters. Also have plenty of your pet’s normal diet on hand, as well as enough bottled water to last at least three days.

The choice of using a Pet Hurricane Shelter should always be the last choice. There are many more pets than there are spaces in shelters. Use one of the shelters if no other choice is available. If you are able to keep your pet in a safe home, it is often advisable to have pet tranquilizers available. Contact your veterinarian well in advance of the problem to discuss this possibility. Hurricanes are tremendously frightening to animals and they may be difficult to control and calm.

Horses and livestock
Large animals, of course, cannot be brought to Pet Hurricane Shelters. They should be boarded in barns that are strong enough to withstand the full storm surge. Sometimes it is better to leave them in a fenced pasture. Be sure your horses and other livestock are wearing identification so they can be reunited with you if they get loose and wander or become injured during the storm. Of course, secure all objects that may become deadly missiles during the storm. Horses should have a negative Coggins test, as well as their yearly vaccines (including Eastern and Western Encephalomyelitis, and tetanus). In addition, many horse veterinarians are recommending vaccinating your horse for rabies. This is a particularly good idea in the case of a hurricane when your horse may get loose and come in contact with many displaced domestic and wild animals.

Make sure pets wear identification
Identification is important whether you are boarding your pet or keeping your pet at home. When the storm is over be careful about letting your pets outside. There are many hazards to pets (and people) after a severe storm including broken glass, downed power lines, and dangerous debris. Your pet may become confused by the change to his normal environment and wander off and become lost. All pets should always wear identification in the form of a collar and tag, and a permanent identification microchip. We advise that you have your pets implanted with a microchip now, instead of waiting until a threat is imminent. Microchip implantation is a safe, and painless procedure that does not require anesthesia and only requires a few minutes. This tiny device is injected under the skin and becomes a permanent means of identifying your pet. Most animal rescue agencies can scan lost pets for microchips. If a hurricane strikes, the surroundings may appear unfamiliar to your pet and he or she may become disoriented or confused. Proper identification will increase the chances of a safe return home. Keep current photos of your pet as well. It is usually a huge undertaking after natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes to reunite lost pets with their owners. In all too many cases, that never occurs and some storm orphans may be lucky enough to find a new home.

In addition, after the storm, you will need to be sure that your pet does not consume any contaminated food or water since garbage pickup may be non-existent for a while.

The chance of an injury occurring is a possibility. It may not be easy to get to a veterinarian after the storm has passed due to roads being blocked and phone lines down.

Take a first aid class
One of our strongest recommendations is to be ready for this possibility. Sign up for the Red Cross Pet CPR/First Aid class that our doctors teach every few months. In that one-evening class, you will learn how to deal with many types of emergency injuries such as bleeding, broken bones, electrocution, and suffocation. You will also be taught CPR on a realistic dog CPR mannequin. Give us a call for the date of the next class.

Prepare a first aid kit
You can also be ready by having a first aid kit handy for your pet.

  • Pet first-aid kit and guide book (visit our store, here, at the hospital for supplies)
  • 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
  • Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
  • Litter or paper toweling
  • Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
  • Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
  • Pet feeding dishes
  • Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
  • Photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless.)
  • Bottled water, at least 7 days’ worth for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
  • A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet)
  • Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)
  • Especially for cats: Pillowcase or EvackSack, toys, scoopable litter
  • Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner.

You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family. Items to include: Batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, spray paint, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.

For any further information on how your four-legged loved ones can weather a hurricane please call your veterinarian, or the local (in Palm Beach County) Red Cross at (561) 833-7711.

Hurricane Season continues through the end of November
If you live in a flood zone plan now to have your pets housed safely if a hurricane strikes. Harmony Animal Hospital is one in a series of Pet Shelters. If you can’t take your pet with you to safety, (pets are not allowed in Red Cross shelters for people) bring him or her here if we are not going to be directly hit by a Category 4 or 5. If we are you will have to plan on bringing your pet with you o bring to a friend’s house.

 

Preparing Your Pet for a Hurricane

While other residents are buying batteries and calculating escape routes, pet owners are most concerned with their precious charges. One of the most common concerns at this time of year is what will happen to my pet if a hurricane strikes.
If your home is in a vulnerable area, it may become necessary to leave during the threat of a major hurricane.  In this situation, the welfare of a pet becomes a real problem.  While it may be possible and ideal to take your pet with you to the safe home of a family member or friend, some residents may not have this option.
If it becomes necessary to evacuate your home you may need to spend some time in a Red Cross Shelter.  Unfortunately, due to health reasons Red Cross Shelters will not accept pets.  Some people have chosen to stay in an unsafe home with their pets rather than go to shelters without them.
There is no need to risk your life to save your pet.  There is a network of specially designated Red Cross Pet Hurricane Shelters.
We were instrumental in working with the Red Cross even before Hurricane Andrew to set up this network of pet shelters.  Harmony Animal Hospital is designated as one of the safe havens, as are many other veterinary hospitals in Palm Beach County.  To receive a complete list either come in or call the Red Cross at 561-833-7711.
It is always important to plan ahead and even make advance reservations if necessary.  You may have to bring your pet into the Pet Hurricane Shelter eight or more hours in advance of the hurricane.  The shelter personnel will secure all of their charges and then make their own plans to be sure their homes and families are safe.  Most shelters will not be able to accommodate you or your pet at the last minute so make your plans early.
Be sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and have proof available. Pet Hurricane Shelters will not accept unvaccinated animals.  Be sure your pet is wearing a collar with identification.  Bring any medications that your pet needs to take on a routine basis. It is also a good idea to bring your pet’s food and enough bottled water to last your pet for at least three days.  If the power goes out water may not be available.
Since the Pet Hurricane Shelters will fill up their facility over their usual capacity in order to accommodate as many pets as possible, it is a good idea to have a roomy crate available so the shelter can house your pet.  They may have more pets needing care than there are kennels or runs available.
The choice of using a Pet Hurricane Shelter should always be the last choice.  There are many more pets than there are spaces in shelters.  Use one of the shelters if no other choice is available. If you are able to keep your pet in a safe home, it is often advisable to have pet tranquilizers available.  Contact your veterinarian well in advance of the problem to discuss this possibility.  Hurricanes are tremendously frightening to animals and they may be difficult to control and calm.

 

Horses and livestock, of course, cannot be brought to Pet Hurricane Shelters. They should be boarded in barns that are strong enough to withstand the full storm surge. Sometimes it is better to leave them in a fenced pasture.  Be sure your horses and other livestock are wearing identification so they can be reunited with you if they get loose and wander or become injured during the storm.  Of course, secure all objects that may become deadly missiles during the storm.
When the storm is over be careful about letting your pets outside. There are many hazards to pets (and people) after a severe storm including broken glass, downed power lines, and dangerous debris.  Your pet may become confused by the change to his normal environment and wander off and become lost. All pets should always wear identification in the form of a collar and tag, and a permanent identification microchip.  We advise that you have your pets implanted with a microchip now, instead of waiting until a threat is imminent. Microchip implantation is a safe, and painless procedure that does not require anesthesia and only requires a few minutes. This tiny device is injected under the skin and becomes a permanent means of identifying your pet.  After Hurricane Andrew a huge undertaking was reuniting lost pets with their owners.  In all too many cases, that never occurred and new homes had to be found for the storm orphans.
In addition, after the storm you will need to be sure that your pet does not consume any contaminated food or water since garbage pickup may be nonexistent for a while.
The chance of an injury occurring is a possibility, as we saw when we worked in the makeshift clinics treating often severely hurt pets in Dade County after Hurricane Andrew.  It may not be easy to get to a veterinarian after the storm has passed due to roads being blocked and phone lines down.
One of my strongest recommendations is to be ready for this possibility.  Sign up for our Pet CPR/First Aid class that we teach every three or four months.  In that one-evening class you will learn how to deal with many types of emergency injuries such as bleeding, broken bones, electrocution and suffocation.  You will also be taught CPR on a realistic dog CPR mannequin.  Give us a call for the date of the next class.
For further information on how you and your four-legged loved ones can weather a hurricane:

 

  1. Go to floridadisaster.org and create your own Family Disaster Plan. It will tell you how much food and water you and your family will need, what your evacuation route is in your area. It gives you a Pet Disaster Supply List. It gives you a First Aid Kit list etc.
  2. Go to petvets.com or www.humanesociety.org/prepare for more pet related info
  3. Please call your veterinarian
  4. Call the American Red Cross at 561-833-7711.
  5. Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control will accept pre-registered pets from people living in mandatory evacuation zones who are going to a Red Cross Shelter. Space is limited. Pet owners are responsible for crates, pet medications, food, toys, etc. Pet are to arrive no earlier than 24 hours prior to landfall, and owners are required to pick up their pet within 48 hours after landfall. AC & C accepts the following types of pets: dogs, cats, pet birds, and small pocket pets. All animals are required to have all current vaccinations, tags and bands. No aggressive animals accepted. For pre-registration call 561-233-1266
  6. If you lose you pet, start your search quickly. Call the animal control office in your municipality, Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control, your veterinarian and animal rescue leagues. Animal Shelters to look for you lost pet(s):
    • Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, 3200 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach, 561-656-3663
    • Tri-County Humane Society, 21287 Boca Rio Road, Boca Raton, 561-482-8110
    • Boynton Beach Animal Control, 415 NE 4th Street, Boynton Beach, 561-375-6210
    • You can also check The Palm Beach Post (561-820-4343) or the Sun Sentinel (561-736-9700) or other local papers in “Lost & Found” listings.
  7. Hotels: If you choose to go to a hotel/motel, call and make reservations. The following hotels/motels located west of I-95 accept pets:
  8. Fairfield Inn & Suites, Jupiter 561-748-5252
  9. La Quinta Inn in Jupiter 561-575-7201
  10. PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens 561-627-2000
  11. Double Tree Hotel in Palm Beach Gardens 561-622-2260
  12. Homewood Studio’s by Hilton in Palm Beach Gardens 561-622-7799
  13. Comfort Inn in West Palm Beach 561-689-6100
  14. Homestead Village Guest Studios in Boca Raton 561-994-2599
  15. Residence Inn by Marriott in Boca Raton 561-994-3222
  16. http://www.floridapets.net , tripswithpets.com , www.bringfido.com, www.dogfriendly.com, www.pet-friendly-hotels.net, www.petswelcome.com, & www.fidofriendly.com are great websites for owners when traveling.