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Vet Corner: The Benefits of Acupuncture for Pets

Jan 22, 2021

At Pet Releaf, we are always striving to share the benefits of holistic alternatives to pet parents! Our Chief Veterinary Office, Dr. Diana Drumm currently practices at her completely holistic clinic, The Animal Healing Center in San Diego, CA and has seen wonderful results of incorporating acupuncture in her practice. Acupuncture for pets focuses on correcting energy balances in the body by inserting fine needles into the dog’s body at specific points to help the body heal itself. Below, Dr. Drumm shares some of the amazing testimonials from patients that she has seen over the years that have benefited from acupuncture!

Written by: Diana Drumm, DVM, CVA, CVCP

I have been using acupuncture in my veterinary practice since 2005 and have found it’s benefits to be tremendous for my patients.

We all think of acupuncture as being used for pain management, but it can be utilized for so much more, alone or as part of my patients’ comprehensive health plans. Even though our animals can’t verbalize how they are feeling, pet parents are keenly aware that their fur baby is benefiting from acupuncture treatments. I hear all the time that a patient brought their owner a toy to play with, and that they hadn’t realized how long it had been since their pet asked to play.

I don’t want to bore everyone with the neurophysiology behind acupuncture actions, but more give some examples of how acupuncture has benefited my patients.

Acupuncture is remarkable in its ability to ease pain and increase mobility.

Acupuncture Testimonials

Djembe is an 11-year-old husky/Rottweiler mix whose problem list includes seizures, atypical Cushing’s disease, previous vestibular disorder, and an incompletely removed soft tissue sarcoma, but with all those issues his mom was concerned because he couldn’t get up and down very well. We agreed on weekly acupuncture, transitioning to a home prepared diet, and I taught his mom how to use a tuning fork on his back. At his 3rd session she reported that she actually saw Djembe wresting in the yard with her other dog, a long-ago activity.

I met another patient, Shadow, a now 17-year-old poodle in the summer of 2019 as he had started to have seizures. The ER veterinarian had urged his mom to put him to sleep after a particularly bad seizure that put him in the hospital for several days. We started a series of acupuncture, Pet Releaf CBD, transitioned to a ketogenic diet, and I taught his mom how to use honey during a seizure and stimulate a particular acupoint to resolve the seizures if she saw another one. His last seizure was in August of 2020. For his age, he is very mobile and completely lucid. I feel that his regular acupuncture is factor in this success.

Cats can also benefit from acupuncture and are typically very cooperative for treatment, especially after their first or second visit, they relax right away after the needles are placed.

Nacho is a 13-year-old black cat who suffers from feline asthma. He had been on an inhaler daily for the past year and his symptoms had become more frequent. His mom and I agreed on a series of weekly acupuncture and laser, plus a homeopathic drop. Over several months we were able to ween him completely off his inhaler, and he remains asymptomatic.

Another feline success story is Jake, a now 13-year-old domestic shorthair. I had treated another cat in his household for cancer for many years, so in 2016 when Jake was diagnosed with feline renal disease his parents asked if acupuncture could help. His conventional veterinarian told the family that cats do not recover from kidney disease, and the only way to manage him would be a renal diet. We agreed on a series of acupuncture, ozone, and nutritional supplements, but not the renal diet yet. At his next blood panel, 6 months into our program, his kidney values were completely normal and have remained so for these 4 years. Along the way, I have varied his acupuncture protocol to help with newly arising issues such as vomiting, hairballs, and decreased jumping ability.

I could go on and on, so lastly for today I want to share another health issue where acupuncture is invaluable, and that is cancer. Cancer patients make up about 50% of my daily caseload. This shocking statistic is a topic for another day, but whether those pets are being treated completely holistically or with a more integrative approach combining chemo and radiation with other modalities, acupuncture is always in the treatment plan.

I met Shadow, an 8-year-old black lab, and his mom last August. Shadow had intestinal lymphoma which was surgically resected. Unfortunately, they didn’t get all of it. He started chemotherapy right after surgery but had such severe GI side effects that his mom didn’t want to continue it, so she came to Animal Healing Center to see if we could help. I counseled her on other strategies we could employ to help fight his cancer, but that acupuncture is particularly well suited to manage the side effects of chemotherapy. We changed his diet, added some supplements to block tumor growth, and I recommended continued chemotherapy with acupuncture immediately following each treatment to relieve nausea, anorexia, and diarrhea; and also help support liver and kidney function as he had to metabolize all those chemicals.  Later as he developed anemia secondary to the chemo, we used new acupuncture points to help with that. Shadow’s chemotherapy is over now, and when I spoke to his mom right before New Year’s he felt so good he had gone walk about to the neighbors and took a swim in their pool.

This is one of the best parts of my job. Hearing from my patients’ pet parents how acupuncture has improved their pet’s quality of life beyond just treatment for the original health issue.

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