Acupuncture to Treat Dog Pain
By: Dr. Amanda Landis-Hanna
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Hello from Las Vegas! Today starts the Western Veterinary Conference, one of the largest continuing education events for veterinarians and veterinary staff. It is a great conference, and many of my colleagues on the west coast choose this conference yearly. I always enjoy catching up with many talented veterinarians from around the US!
One of the sessions I hope to attend is a review of acupuncture. Sophie (pictured abve) got her first acupuncture treatment this week. It was wonderful working with Dr. Erica Barron, a mobile veterinary holistic provider.
As you may remember, Sophie has severe osteoarthritis. We are currently treating her pain with multiple drugs, supplements, prescription diet, and exercise. She is mostly comfortable, but the last several weeks have been particularly hard on her. She is bright and happy, but has trouble moving. And as I always point out, pain is not helpful. It does not protect her, or keep her safe. Instead I am willing to try adding in additional therapies to see if we can get her more comfortable.
To start, I scheduled her appointment with Dr. Barron. Dr. Barron requested all of Sophie’s current and previous medical records, including her x-rays and labwork. After reviewing that information, Dr. Barron and I scheduled an initial consultation for Sophie.
Dr. Barron came to our (messy) house, and spent some time visiting with Sophie. She was able to evaluate Sophie’s energy level, her limping, and her pain. She also did a complete physical exam, including an Eastern medicine examination, to evaluate her energy flow. According to Eastern medicine all living beings have a life force or energy. Some call it chi, some call it soul, and some call it life force. But whatever you call it, you want it to flow, or move normally. If it doesn’t flow normally, it can become stagnant, which can result in secondary physical symptoms.
In Sophie’s case, it appeared that she had some stagnation. Dr. Barron pointed out her tongue color, which was more blue and less pink than either of us liked. We were both evaluating Sophie, but from very different perspectives! Dr. Barron was also concerned about Sophie’s pulses, and we both wanted to make sure she was as comfortable as possible. So we got her to lay down with a treat (always works!), and Dr. Barron got to work.
Sophie had numerous needles placed in various locations along her midline. Since it was her first treatment, we wanted to start slow and easy for her. She got lots of attention during her 30 minutes of needling. She always enjoys attention, but the needles did not appear to bother her at all. We noticed she was able to shift the needles after 20 minutes, due to improvements in her energy flow. During the treatment her tongue color turned a lovely pink, and her pulses grew much stronger and more symmetric.
Since her first treatment Sophie has been bright and happy. Dr. Barron and I will be watching Sophie’s Voyce Pro data over the next month to evaluate her treatment. We want to make sure Sophie is more active and limping less. I also want to see her resting heart rate and resting respiratory rate data shift slightly, and her quality of rest improves. These changes will be an indicator that we are on the right track and that we are seeing efficacy. We want to ensure Sophie is getting appropriate treatment, not too much or too little. And because she is getting acupuncture along with ‘normal’ Western drugs, I want to ensure she continues to do well over a prolonged period of time.
So stay tuned. I will update you on Sophie’s progress with acupuncture. Also, I am sure to have some fun photos posted on the Voyce Twitter and Facebook pages, of Sophie and the Western Veterinary Conference. There is always more to come! J