Eastern Medicine for Man’s Best Friend – A look at acupuncture for pets

Pets plagued with allergies, arthritis and hot spots often don’t respond well to conventional veterinarian medicine. But holistic medicine, well, that just might be the cat’s meow.

Acupuncture, laser therapy, chiropractic, massage and nutritional care can be very successful for chronic, degenerative diseases and overall wellness, say Jenna Castner Hauck, who practices holistic therapies at her Jacksonville Beach clinic, Veterinary Acupuncture and Wellness.

While some conditions respond best to traditional Western medicine, others do better with acupuncture and nontraditional therapies.  

“The dogs and cats really respond to it,” she says. “They realize what we’re doing for them and it really makes them feel better.”

Just ask Pooker. The 10-year-old dachshund could barely walk when she was brought to the wellness clinic in April. Two months earlier she had jumped off a sofa, causing a slipped disk. Soon after, she began to drag both feet on her right side and fall down. When Pooker’s condition didn’t improve, her veterinarian suggested a neurological evaluation and surgery. She was brought to the wellness clinic for less invasive treatment. For the next seven weeks, Castner Hauck treated Pooker with Chinese herbs and electroacupuncture, a procedure in which a small electric current is passed between pairs of acupuncture needles. 

With each visit Pooker’s condition improved, Castner Hauck says. After seven visits, Pooker walked out the clinic on her own. Castner Hauck recently checked to see how she was doing.

“She’s truly 100 percent normal,” Castner Hauck says. “She did awesome.”

A veterinarian, Castner Hauck became a certified animal acupuncturist a decade ago after noticing that pets with allergies and chronic degenerative issues weren’t improving with steroids and antibiotics. 

“I was feeling that I wanted other options,” she says. “Conventional medicine wasn’t really helping them heal. I felt like I was putting Band-Aids on things, and now I really feel like I’m helping animals heal.”

Acupuncture recognizes an imbalance before it becomes a disease, Castner Hauck says. An ancient form of Chinese medicine, it works on the premise that chi, the vital force that flows through the body, travels along energy channels called meridians. Acupuncture opens these meridians and stimulates the blood supply. Performing acupuncture on animals is nothing new. Hundreds of years ago it was practiced on horses in China to keep them healthy and ready for battle, she says.

For more information, visit Veterinary Acupuncture and Wellness at vetacuwellness.com

Some pet medical conditions that respond well to holistic care are:

• Seizures 

• Fecal incontinence and feline cystitis

• Cancer and post cancer treatment following chemotherapy or surgery

• Allergies, autoimmune diseases and hot spots

• Arthritis, hip dysplasia and degenerative diseases

• Weight control and gastrointestinal ailments