MOST animals tolerate acupuncture needles, especially after a few visits filled with treats, rub-downs and the relaxing after-effects. Acupuncture is used for treating pain, neurologic disease, motility issues in the gastrointestinal tract, allergies and anxiety. Needles are left in anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on what we are trying to accomplish. It doesn’t work for all disease and it doesn’t work for every animal. Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to this therapy, some are not. We routinely see some dogs fall asleep with the needles in, and others who stand by the door waiting to leave for the entire treatment. Cats are a bit more….er…..challenging, but we accept that challenge because we love cats and most hold still once you’ve started scratching their chins. The environment of the office is quiet and relaxing with carpets and cat trees and pheromone diffusers….really all of the things that cats have come to expect in life!
This practice essentially re-establishes mobility to the spine and legs, which in turn, leads to a variety of happy results.
To provide you an example of the application of chiropractic, let’s say your dog has some mild arthritis in her right knee. Because of this, s/he is bearing slightly more weight on the left hind leg. Gradually, the spine “adapts” to this asymmetric gait: supporting muscles on one side of the spine contract more than those on the other side, causing some of the joints in the spine to have reduced mobility. The body is meant to be used relatively symmetrically. By adjusting the spine, we bring back motion to these joints and symmetry to the body. If you don’t help the underlying cause (in this case, the knee) however, you’ll be back where you started soon. That is where other modalities (acupuncture, massage, laser, TENS, pharmaceuticals, supplements, physical therapy) can help.
Strengthening and stretching assures optimal movement. Movement is where it’s at, folks! Short of food, water, love and sunlight, there is nothing more important. The problems we most often use this therapy for are:
- after orthopedic surgery
- after injury
- performance issues (for example, agility dogs)
- neurological problems such as intervertebral disc disease and degenerative myelopathy
- weakness associated with age
Brand new to the practice is an Oasis underwater treadmill. We are so excited to be able to get animals moving better with this. Essentially the treadmill is used for the problems listed under physical rehabilitation. It provides buoyancy, making it easier for animals to remain upright and move their limbs through a normal range of motion. The water is warm, helping to soothe aches and pains. We offer packages for the treadmill, making it more affordable. In addition to providing support after injury or surgery, the underwater treadmill, when used appropriately, can actually be used to condition athletic dogs during the “off-season.”
Low-Level Laser Therapy/
This modality is getting more attention on the human side of medicine, but it’s been used in veterinary medicine for a while. It uses light to heal, regenerate, and protect tissue that has been injured or is degenerating. In veterinary medicine it is used primarily for wound healing, painful gum disease, and orthopedic disease. It is common for dogs to come in for a weekly laser treatment. Most laser treatments take only a few minutes.
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) for pain relief, NMES (Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation) for muscle atrophy, PEMF (Pulse Electromagnetic Field) mat and K-taping are used.
This is helpful for conditioning after surgery, injury, or even for athletes during the winter months when outdoor activities are limited. It is also used in neurologic cases to help animals “re-learn” walking patterns.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese Herbal Formulas that were designed thousands of years ago are still in existence because they are effective. Unlike modern pharmaceuticals, these herbal formulas are not distilled down to active ingredients, therefor they work more gradually and are much less likely to cause side effects. Contamination and adulteration of Chinese herbs are an unfortunate occurrence. Our clinic uses products from companies who use independent laboratories to verify that the contents of every product are not contaminated by toxins and that they contain the ingredients that they are supposed to. Every bottle has a lot number that can be traced back to a Certificate of Analysis. See an example here: https://www.kanherb.com/prac_ca_view_sample.asp. Herbs are used for the treatment of seizures, anxiety, kidney and liver disease, cancer, skin disease and digestive problems.
Our recommendations for diets are highly individual and depend upon the animal and their unique patterns and tendencies, and the owner’s financial constraints and willingness to feed a less conventional diet. Often, we will make suggestions for fresh foods to be fed in place of some of the regular diet. Certain foods are recommended based on goals-whether it might be to “cool” an inflamed patient, or to enhance blood supply to the brain in elderly patients. Just as we are finding in human medicine, variety is an important piece of excellent nutrition.
We offer advice on effective supplements that have been researched for both their quality and efficacy. There are many, many supplements out on the market these days, and we are asked often to comment on one or more supplements that a pet owner has found on the internet. Because there are so many products, and because supplements are not regulated by the FDA, we feel comfortable only recommending the ones we have experience with. Examples of supplements include glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, ASU, UC-II- all used for arthritis. Milk thistle is recommended for liver disease. L-theanine and colostrum are used for anxiety, and probiotics and mushroom supplements are recommended for just about any disease process.