2011-04-06 / Front Page

Pets get complementary treatment

By Gwen Sadler

Dr. Leslie Ann Jones with Woodlake Animal Hospital gives Godiva an acupuncture treatment. 
Lisa Billings/Chesterfield Observer Dr. Leslie Ann Jones with Woodlake Animal Hospital gives Godiva an acupuncture treatment. Lisa Billings/Chesterfield Observer When pets hurt, so do pet owners, and most of us will do whatever it takes to make our animal friends feel better. Massage, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and other complementary treatments are slowly becoming mainstream for humans, and now they’re being used in animals, too.

In her practice at Woodlake Animal Hospital, Dr. Leslie Ann Jones has added some traditionally Eastern treatments to those she learned at veterinary school.

“My strengths are in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine,” Jones said. “For the Chinese, acupuncture is their first line of defense.”

Animal acupuncturists must be certified to give treatments, and they must be veterinarians to be certified. Jones is certified to perform the procedure on dogs, cats, horses and small furry animals.

China figures prominently in Eastern treatments. Acupuncture began some 3,000 years ago in China when people discovered they could stick something akin to a dull stone into horses’ wounds to stop bleeding. The dull stone has morphed into a needle in current culture.

Dr. Leslie Ann Jones connects an acupuncture needle to an electro-acupuncture machine, which helps stimulate the points a bit more than using needles on their own. 
Lisa Billings/Chesterfield Observer Dr. Leslie Ann Jones connects an acupuncture needle to an electro-acupuncture machine, which helps stimulate the points a bit more than using needles on their own. Lisa Billings/Chesterfield Observer “Chi is energy moving through us,” Jones explained. “Acupuncture moves that [energy] along. The needles break up stagnation, or pain.”

Acupuncture is generally used for conditions that cause chronic pain, such as arthritis, but Jones finds that her patients’ humans often report their pets are “mellow” after the treatments.

“It [acupuncture] helps them walk better,” Jones said. “It can be used on anything that’s alive.”

And she said owners can tell whether it’s working or not. “With animals, there’s no placebo effect. They either feel better or they don’t.”

Its effectiveness, she added, amazes a lot of people. “When I first started using it, it even surprised me.”

Jones finds that using other treatment methods, such as chiropractic care or medicinal herbs, work effectively with acupuncture. While Jones is not a chiropractor, animal chiropractors, like those for humans, manipulate the spine into proper alignment to promote healing within the body. It is often used to restore mobility to joints affected by tissue injury.

Jones sometimes uses medicinal herb cocktails formulated for animals along with acupuncture because the combination can be an effective way to help pets with arthritis.

“They make each other work better,” she said.

Herbs can also be used for chronic gastrointestinal issues and incontinence. She stressed medicinal herbs aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and may not be safe for those uneducated in their use.

Other Eastern modalities don’t involve things you can see. Tracy Bittner, a licensed veterinary technician in Jones’ practice, has studied Reiki and Healing Touch for Animals ®.

Reiki was developed by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui in the early 1920s. It is a technique for reducing stress, creating relaxation and promoting healing.

“It’s a system of healing that must be learned from a Reiki Master,” Bittner said. “It gets rid of blockage, or stagnation, and helps in spiritual, emotional and physical healing.”

In order to practice Reiki, students must have the ability transferred from a master to them in a ceremonial rite called attunement, something Bitter has accomplished to become a Usui Reiki Master.

Lisa Eve Seay has studied the modality long enough and deeply enough to become a master in two types of Reiki – Usui and Karuna® – and a practitioner in Rainbow Reiki. Karuna® Reiki and Rainbow Reiki were developed from the principles of Usui Reiki. All three forms use similar techniques for relaxation and healing.

Reiki works, Seay said, by manipulating the energy field or aura that surrounds all animals and people. The goal is to make the aura even all around the body and clear it of any stagnate energy that prevents the body from healing itself quickly and naturally.

Seay also practices HTA. Similar to Reiki, HTA isn’t a transferrable ability, but a learned one. Seay, a certified practitioner of HTA, likes to use essential oils along with HTA.

Bittner has also studied HTA and is a practitioner, but hasn’t yet completed the certification process.

If Reiki and HTA sound too Twilight Zone-ish to really work, consider this: “Energy follows thought,” Seay said. “That’s why prayers work. That’s why a mother comforts her crying child. She pulls her child into her energy field. Her intention is to comfort him, calm him down. She sends her intention [as thought], and energy follows the thought.”

Seay is also trained in Inner Sound® vibration and sound therapy using tuning forks to “create expansion or contraction in different systems of the body, helping the animal release and integrate blocked emotions and physical obstructions,” Seay explained. “Using the vibrational tuning forks releases congestion of mucous [and helps with] clotting. It’s a very effective relaxation tool for animals that compete or have jobs.”

Anyone who’s ever had a good massage can attest to the benefits, and animals experience those same positive effects. Carrie Kinnear began her career as a human massage therapist after months of training. Realizing that animals would likely feel the same effects, Kinnear learned how to massage dogs and horses.

“A muscle is a muscle regardless of its package,” she said.

As with people, massage helps animals relax, it loosens muscle “knots” and improves circulation. It can also help calm a nervous animal. And it’s beneficial to animals’ skin and coat because their natural oils are spread during the massage.

There are some differences in how pets and people are managed when it comes to massage therapy. People can tell their massage therapist what feels good and what hurts.

“Humans know what they’re getting,” Kinnear said. “Animals don’t, but after a couple of visits they get used to it. If something hurts, they may growl. That’s how I know where the problem is.”

Kinnear said she’s never been bitten or kicked by a four-legged “client.” But when the massage feels good, she may get licked or hear sighs.

Kinnear often is called in, sometimes by vets, to help an animal with arthritis or hip dysplasia. Sometimes massage therapy can prevent surgery, or it may help a pet recover from a surgical procedure. Some veterinarians, Kinnear said, are open to her therapeutic treatments, and some are not. Whether the call comes from the vet or the client’s owner, Kinnear, like Seay and Bittner, make sure the animals they treat have visited their vets.

“None of this [treatment modalities] is meant to replace a vet,” Seay said. “The treatments support what a vet is doing and make healing go faster. But if an animal hasn’t seen a vet within the past year, I won’t treat it.”

Jones doesn’t let her veterinary training get in the way of logic and practicality when a less orthodox therapy may enhance her formal treatment plan. She believes in using “whatever works.”

Bittner likes the combination of traditional veterinary work and Eastern treatments. “There are more tools in the toolbox,” she said. “It’s all about being in balance. It’s becoming quite mainstream.”

Does your pet need therapy?

Leslie Ann Jones, DVM
Woodlake Animal Hospital
6511 Woodlake Village Parkway,
Phone: 639-1159
Lisa Eve Seay
Holdfast Holistic Health
Phone: 514-7693
Tracy Bittner
Woodlake Animal Hospital
Wind Moon Wellness
Phone: 399-5676
Carrie Kinnear
Ocean Waves Massage
(757) 353-0619

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