Pet acupuncture: Get to the point

Pet acupuncture: Get to the point

Alternative therapies such as pet acupuncture, massage and the use of Chinese herbs are growing in popularity among pet owners.

Angie’s List member Joan Rogers of Portland, Ore., owns two cats with two different health problems: Liu, a 10-year-old Bengal cat, has arthritis and Coppelia, a 15-year-old Ocicat, has an autoimmune skin disorder.

Rogers’ primary veterinarian recommended surgery and medication for Liu and a steroid prescription for Coppelia. “The steroids caused [Coppelia] to be nauseated all the time and gave her secondary infections, and due to Liu’s temperament, surgical options weren’t a good fit,” she says.

Rogers sought the expertise of highly rated At Home Veterinary Acupuncture’s Dr. Darcy Hoyt, who’s certified in acupuncture from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, which means she completed course training and passed exams.

“It was like a miracle,” Rogers says. “Before the acupuncture appointment, Liu was walking on three legs to keep her weight off the arthritic leg. She slept for 12 hours after the appointment, and then got up and ran around like a perfectly normal cat.”

Rogers says Hoyt prescribed Chinese herbs for Coppelia, and both cats are doing well. “If you’re skeptical about acupuncture, be prepared to have your beliefs challenged,” Rogers says. “It’s not possible for an animal to experience the placebo effect. The animal has no expectation from the treatment. So when it works, it makes you realize that there’s something real there.”

Hoyt says she most commonly treats musculoskeletal issues (such as arthritis), neurological problems (such as a herniated disk), and chronic kidney failure. Initial acupuncture treatments cost $125. Hoyt recommends pet owners verify an acupuncturist’s veterinary credentials. “That way, they know that the practitioner has had adequate training, and will also be able to make a conventional diagnosis and provide advice and treatment beyond acupuncture, if needed,” she says.

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