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Intergrated Health Care for Pets

The technological advances in veterinary medicine have brought continuous new drugs, diagnostic, and surgical procedures that have resulted in a significant increase in the average lifespan of our pets. Despite this fact, after 10 years of being a small animal veterinary, I was frustrated with its limitations. Seeing the same animal over and over for the same problem and either prescribing the same medication or running hundreds of dollars in diagnostic tests to not get a solution weren’t the answer. To resolve this dilemma, I turned to the ancient art of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

TCM has been practiced in humans for over 5,000 years and for 3,000 years in animals. It includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, and food therapy. The goal of treatment is to restore balance and remove energy blocks. This aids in pain relief and the regulation of gastrointestinal motility and has anti-inflammatory effects and promotes immune-regulation and microcirculation. These strengthen the body and help it heal. 

The needles used in acupuncture are very small and most animals become very relaxed during the treatment. Unfortunately not all animals will tolerate acupuncture needles. In these animals, a Chinese herbal formulation can be used in lieu of acupuncture to give similar physiological effects. Chinese herbal medications can be used in combination with many western treatments or as an alternative to drugs with undesired side effects. Many foods have similar yet less intense medicinal actions as herbs. By adding or eliminating certain foods from your pet’s diet, long term health benefits can be achieved.

There are many conditions that respond well to TCM. It is beneficial in chronic illness, especially when the pet is not responding satisfactory to conventional western therapies. It has also proven effective for urinary incontinence, arthritis, disc disease, seizures, IBD (irritable bowel disease), cardiac disease, skin problems, renal failure, liver disease, chronic cough, to name a few. Animal chiropractic alone or in conjunction with acupuncture can be very effective for animals with pain or mobility problems. Home treatment can be particularly good for those animals with mobility issues and the familiar environment can be more relaxing.

To close, in the most general terms, many western methods work quickly and predictably; however, they often do not address the underlying problem. TCM and chiropractic are medical modalities that can be used as the sole method of treatment; however I choose to integrate them with western veterinary medicine and other natural remedies. As we all know, every animal is unique and requires an individual assessment to determine the best combination of therapies.

Written by Dr. Melloney Erwin - Indian River Mobile Veterinary Services

Clifford #1600 (pictured here) came into foster with Golden Rescue in late June of 2011. He was surrendered to a shelter and the staff was told he had been wandering the area for two to three months. When he arrived at the foster’s home, he could barely walk, his hind end was atrophied, and when he did walk, he paced…unable to stand long enough to even finish eating his meals. Xrays were done at his first vet visit which revealed spondylosis and concerns for his quality of life were discussed. Clifford started seeing Dr. Melloney Erwin in July 2011 for chiropractic treatments and acupuncture and Chinese herbs were also added to his daily regime. A difference could be seen almost immediately and soon Clifford was able to not only stand long enough to finish his meals but he was also enjoying several daily walks around the neighbourhood. He was even able to make it up a few stairs at a time on his own. The day Clifford tried to do the seniors version of a puppy spurt in the backyard brought tears of joy to his family’s eyes! Dr. Erwin saw Clifford for monthly treatments and she was able to give Clifford his mobility back so that he could enjoy life as a dog!  Cherie