By Beth Hampton Jones
When a pet owner hears that her beloved pet is sick or hurting, she begins searching for medicines, treatments and options to alleviate the problem. Here in the Asheville area, we are very fortunate to have many wonderful full service veterinary hospitals, plus several practitioners who provide alternative treatments for our pets. Combining traditional and alternative medical options provides the best possible care.
Locally, we have practitioners who provide physical rehabilitation, chiropractic services, massage, acupuncture and other alternative treatments. My special interest is acupuncture, which involves placing needles in specific points along channels on the body to promote a healing response. The ancient Chinese art of acupuncture has become very common for people and animals in America, and many times is less expensive than traditional Western veterinary care. The treatment may involve needles only, moxibustion (heated herbs over needles), electro-acupuncture, or aquapuncture (injecting medicine directly into an acupuncture point).
Many of my patients come for pain relief. Acupuncture is an excellent treatment for hip dysplasia, intervertebral disk pain (“slipped disk”), and back arthritis and knee injuries. It is also helpful with pain after surgery, allergic skin conditions and some behavioral issues. In cats, acupuncture can be effective for spraying and bowel motility problems. Acupuncture can add relief to patients already on other medications, and often extends the pet’s quality of life. It can also be combined with chiropractic treatment and physical rehabilitation. Pets tolerate acupuncture well, and rarely need sedation. Some actually fall asleep during the session!
After an acupuncture treatment, pets are usually sleepy and happy, often resting for the remainder of the day. Acupuncture is cumulative. During initial, consecutive treatments, patients will improve more and feel better for longer periods after each session. After the first set of treatments, the patient can establish a regular schedule if the condition warrants repeated treatment.
Recently I have added the use of essential oils to my practice, While the patient is receiving his acupuncture treatment, I use oils for massaging and calming. The essential oils improve the experience for the pet owner and the patient, and increase the effectiveness of the treatment. Massaging also creates a bond with the doctor. Providing a pleasant treatment environment helps the patient to look forward to the next visit.
Sometimes a pet owner has tried all of the treatments that Western medicine offers, and believes he or she has no option except for euthanasia. Alternative treatments such as acupuncture can effectively improve the quality of life and extend life for many patients.
Beth Hampton Jones, DVM, has been a licensed veterinarian since 1993 and a veterinary acupuncturist since 2003. She practices at the Animal Acupuncture and Pain Relief Clinic, 828-450-0851.