In late January of 2007, my Pembroke Welsh Corgi bitch, Truffles, injured her neck by some unknown method, and as a result could not bear weight on her left front leg. Truffles was prescribed six weeks of crate rest, prednisone, and pain killers, but the treatment that most facilitated her recovery was the acupuncture and Chinese herbs prescribed by her holistic vet, Dr. Tracy Lord. Truffles continues to this day to see Dr. Lord for acupuncture, chiropractic and other holistic treatments. Truffles recovered fully and returned to tracking in the late spring of 2007.
On Sunday, August 2, 2009, at the Tracking Club of Maine’s Variable Surface Tracking Test, held at Colby College in Waterville, ME, Truffles, now age 10, passed on Track 3 under judges Ed Presnall and Mary Thompson, to earn her VST title and with it the title of Champion Tracker (CT). To earn this title a dog must obtain all three AKC tracking titles–Tracking Dog (TD), Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) and Variable Surface Tracking (VST). The CT title says to the world that she has demonstrated proficiency in following human scent in open fields, over obstacles and at age, and in urban conditions including through parking lots, sidewalks and around buildings. Truffles’ track was 657 yards long, 3 hours 10 minutes old, and it took her 31 minutes to complete.
Truffles is now CT Heronsway Harbor Sweets, CDX, VST, AX, AXJ, VCX. She will be seeing Dr. Lord on Wednesday, as usual.
Michele Gillette, Hanover, VA
One of the most frequent questions that I get asked as owners are passing the time waiting for their dog or cat’s acupuncture needles to be taken out ( this is a time period of anywhere between 10-20 minutes on average) goes something like this… So, what is the most interesting animal that you have ever done acupuncture on? It was never a question I particularly enjoyed as I never felt that I had a great answer. Most of my practice is dogs and cats with the occasional rabbit or pocket pet thrown in. Past this, I occasionally see injured wildlife- usually small mammals or birds. So, until recently, my best answer to this question was generally along the lines of squirrel, rabbit, guinea pig.
Over the last year, however, my attitude toward this question has changed. I can now claim to having treated two sea turtles.
About a year ago the dedicated folks at the Marine Stranding and Rescue Center in Virginia Beach, VA brought two sea turtles in to a clinic where I was working for evaluation and possible acupuncture treatments. Both turtles had problems with mobility. There was a small green sea turtle named Frosty who was about the size of a dinner plate and a large loggerhead sea turtle who weighed upwards of two hundred pounds. His name was Atlantis.
We decided to give it a try as other therapies were not improving the turtles’ conditions. Amazingly, we found references to a few acupuncture points in turtles, so myself and a second acupuncture trained veterinarian began with these. I coupled these treatments with chiropractic adjustments on their necks.
The initial treatments went well, but it was decided that the stress of the hour long trip would be too much on the turtles on a regular basis. Thus began my travels to Va Beach to the Stranding and Rescue center. This center is an arm of the Va aquarium which too is based in Va Beach. The Stranding and Rescue center is off site from the main aquarium to ensure that the rescued animals and their caretakers do not expose any of the aquarium stock to disease. It is an old warehouse filled with many massive tanks temporarily housing everything from turtles to seals. The goal for every animal who comes into the center is release back into the wild.
Frosty originally arrived at the Center with a scar over his shell, suggesting some type of trauma. His issues all involved severe weakness in his hind flippers, and it was thus presumed that he had sustained some sort of spinal injury secondary to trauma in the wild. Atlantis, on the other hand, was at the Center being treated for other issues when he suddenly developed a head tilt, inability to float flat in the water and loss of mobility in his front flippers. It was not clear whether these symptoms were the result of a brain lesion, infection or some other unknown pathology. When first brought in for acupuncture, both of the turtles had plateaued in their recoveries and the fear was that they would not be releasable.
Both of these species of sea turtle are listed as threatened in the endangered species act and the green sea turtle is also listed as endangered. Given this status, release was especially significant. I should note here that I am referring to both of these turtles as “he”, but we did not know their sexes. One female sea turtle has the potential to lay 100 plus eggs per nest and a loggerhead may lay four to seven nests in one laying season. These eggs are then left unprotected and the majority of the hatchlings will never make it through their first hours of life, but given the dwindling numbers of turtles in the seas, each one can make a difference.
Both turtles took well to their treatments and did not fight either their adjustments or their ever changing acupuncture point protocols. As time went on, I learned that the turtles’ shells are very sensitive and began acupuncturing them through their shells as well. Frosty, a firecracker of a turtle, responded first and showed a steady pattern of improvement in strength and mobility. Atlantis was more difficult to judge, he would seem better some days and worse others. I finally added some Chinese herbals into his protocol, and we began to see the improvements that we were looking for.
The happy ending to this story is that both turtles were released into the Chesapeake Bay in late June of 2008. Tracking devices were placed on them at the time so that the stranding and rescue center can keep track of their progress and potentially learn more about the habits of these elusive creatures in the seas. I am honored to have been able to be a part of their recovery.
This is Bus the French Bulldog. Bus had surgery yesterday and we’re just going to do some acupunture and chiropratic on him.
Bus having been lying on his back for surgery will benefit from chiropractic adjustments.
I’m going to start at the head and feel him chiropractically to make sure he’s doing okay.
An adjustment with these guys is not hard to do, and will correct the imbalance.
Chiropratic is a very low force adjustment. Most dogs and cats don’t mind at all. It’s very rare for pets to get upset. The dogs and cats who receive chiropractic adjustments dont need to held in place. Most dogs and cats even start to like it…once they learn what’s going on. Most pets actually get better and better as this go on.
Bus has never been treated before this is the first time I have performed chiropractic adjustments on him.
For thousands of years acupuncture has been used to re-balance the total energy system of animals’ bodies to facilitate health and healing. It effectively treats many varied conditions such as arthritis, disc disease, nerve pain, kidney failure, liver failure, cancer, and heart disease to name a few.
According to Eastern medicine, when an animal is healthy, there is a strong and even circulation of energy, life-force, or Chi which runs along well defined channels on the body surface and deeper within the body cavities. These channels are called meridians. These meridians are associated with internal organs, muscular and joint structures, and the nervous system. Acupuncture points lie within the meridians, and are areas from which the flow of Chi can be influenced. Thus influencing the associated organs, joints and the like.
For those who prefer to look at this from a more scientific point of view, we can shift and assess acupuncture from a western viewpoint. Specific acupuncture point stimulation has been shown to produce many measurable results within the body. These include increasing oxygenation and blood supply to areas treated; aiding in production of endogenous cortisone and other anti-inflammatory substances; releasing internally produced pain killers such as endorphins; and improving immunity by increasing white blood cell and antibody production.
What is holistic veterinary medicine?
Holistic medicine is a term that means different things to different people. I call myself a holistic practitioner and by that I mean to convey two different things. First is that I look at the whole of the animal and work to come to a treatment plan that will benefit my entire patient and not just address one presenting complaint. Secondly, I will use the whole of medicine to come up with the best treatment plan possible.
Many veterinarians use different terms to convey this same or a similar sentiment. Alternative veterinary medicine, complimentary veterinary medicine, integrative veterinary medicine are but some of the different terms you may come across. I could use any of them comfortably but I feel that holistic medicine best conveys my attitude toward medicine.
Many of my patients come to me from conventional practices and are already involved with a treatment plan. Arthritis cases are on non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, seizure cases on phenobarbital, neurologic and cancer cases have often been prescribed steroids. And I do not feel that these animals have necessarily been done a disservice or that the conventional medications are even a big problem. My ultimate goal in practice is to improve the quality of life of my patients, and if that means steroids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, seizure medication or the like- they should have them. Western medicine is not the enemy. It is, however, but one of the many branches of medicine, and in many cases, it does not have all of the answers.
I will not typically pull animals off of previously prescribed medications when they come to me. This is assuming that what is presently prescribed is actually improving the overall quality of the patients lives. In such cases, I will often begin by adding in supplements, herbals, spinal manipulation, acupuncture, and/or homotoxicology remedies; and addressing diet and lifestyle issues in an effort to further improvements or decrease the dependence on the conventional medications. It is only after we see gains, or I feel that an animal is stabilized with the complementary modalities that I will talk to clients and often their regular veterianarians about reassessing the need for conventional medications.
The modalities chosen to achieve this end can depend on the presenting condition of concern, the patients overall condition and energy, owners constraints, and animal temperament. Some animals have conditions that would likely benefit greatly from acupuncture or manipulation, but the animal is not one who will do well with repeated visits to the veterinary office. Others will not take supplements/medications from their owners at home which limits choices of treatments to compliment the in hands on therapies. All cases have their challenges, but ultimately I need to be able to look each animal in the eye and feel confident that what I am doing is a part of a treatment plan aimed at health.
We must always remember that it is the quality and not the quantity of life that makes it so precious.