Alternative or complementary therapies can be very useful in the veterinary treatment of animals, either as stand- alone treatments or as part of an integrated approach with Western medicine. At our clinic, Dr Felicity (Flip) Harradine holds a Master’s degree in small animal medicine. She is a Member of the Australian College of Veterinary Surgeons and is a certified veterinary acupuncturist with over 23 years of experience.
She is a certified rehabilitation therapist having undergone two years of study with the Canine Rehabilitation Institute (USA).
Other modalities used include:
- Laser Therapy
- Chinese Herbal Medicine
- Food Therapy
- Bowen Therapy
- Positional Release Therapy
- Tui Na (a form of physical therapy)
- Flower Essences
Flip practises both Western and Chinese medicine and sees the benefits of integrating both modalities to achieve the best results possible for her patients.
- What is involved in an acupuncture treatment? Traditionally, very fine sterile needles are placed in specific areas along meridians (channels of energy) mapped out by the Chinese thousands of years ago. These acupuncture points differ from the surrounding tissue in that they have more nerve endings, more histamine receptors and have a different electrical charge from the surrounding tissue.
- Is it painful? Yes, as the needle is inserted there is often a very transient pain or discomfort. This usually passes once the needle is in place, and is actually desirable as it heralds the arrival of “de chi”, or energy to the area. We usually feed treats to the animals as the needles are inserted to distract them if that is necessary, because we like our patients to enjoy their treatments!
- How long do the needles have to be in for? If needles are used, they should stay in place for 15-20 minutes. However, sometimes, aqua puncture is used, where a substance is injected into the acupuncture sites. When this is done, the needles do not have to stay in, and the substance injected stays in the tissue for some time, stimulating the acupuncture points.
- (Electroacupuncture) Sometimes an electrical circuit is attached to the needles to give a stronger stimulus. This can be very effective in cases of paralysis or severe back pain. Laser can be used to stimulate the points in the animal will not tolerate needles
- A laser can also be used instead of the needles if the animal will not tolerate needles.
- How does it work? Stimulation of the points results in large numbers of chemicals being released into the body. These include endorphins for pain relief which are more potent than morphine, neurohormones and tiny peptides which can affect gut motility and secretions and can stimulate the immune system to increase red and white blood cells, among other functions.
- What can acupuncture and Chinese herbs be used for? In our practice, acupuncture is most often used for lameness and back pain. It is very beneficial for any musculoskeletal disorders. Acupuncture for pets and physical therapy can greatly improve rehabilitation from any injury. Acupuncture is one of the only currently available techniques (along with stem cell therapy) which actually stimulates the axons (cells in the spinal cord) to heal and multiply, and can be very helpful for conditions such as intervertebral disc disease and pain from spondylosis and sacroiliac sprains. Other conditions which respond to acupuncture and herbs include neurological conditions such as epilepsy, tetanus, nerve paralysis and “dry eyes” (where insufficient tears are produced).
- Diarrhoea, vomiting and irritable bowel syndrome can respond very well to acupuncture and herbs.
- Respiratory diseases and conditions also can benefit dramatically from acupuncture and herbal therapy.
- Urinary tract issues and diseases may be significantly improved also.
- Dermatology, or skin complaints, including allergies may respond well.
- Immune mediated problems and cancer may also benefit from these modalities, either as part of an holistic approach, or to help reduce side effects to chemotherapy.
- How long does a traditional Chinese medicine treatment take? The initial consultation may take 45-60 minutes, depending on the problem. Tongue and pulse information as well as a detailed holistic history are required and a treatment plan is formulated specifically for the individual.