Is the world ready for pet acupuncture?

The Washington Times Weekly - - Page Two -

SAN FRAN­CISCO (AP) — When Ann Dey’s dog had a stroke in July, one side of his face be­came par­a­lyzed so se­verely he couldn’t blink. She knew she needed to do some­thing be­fore the 13-year-old pug, Jimmy, lost his eye to in­fec­tion.

“I was open to any­thing that would help,” Miss Dey said.

At Pets Un­lim­ited, a non­profit an­i­mal hospi­tal that opened the city’s first all-holis­tic vet­eri­nary med­i­cal clinic on Mon­day, Jimmy re­ceived acupuncture for a month. Now, his face is fine.

As al­ter­na­tive ap­proaches such as acupuncture and herbal reme­dies have moved fur­ther into the main­stream for hu­mans, ve­teri­nar­i­ans have made those tech­niques in­creas­ingly avail­able for pets.

An­i­mal care of­fi­cials say pet own­ers have been con­vinced by their pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ences that their pets also should en­joy the ben­e­fits of al­ter­na­tive tech­niques.

“See­ing is be­liev­ing,” said Sally Wort­man, Pets Un­lim­ited’s hospi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tor, stand­ing near a row of scented can­dles on the new clinic’s re­cep­tion desk.

AJa­panese foun­tain, soft lights and walls painted in sooth­ing tones of sage, ocher and salmon aug­ment the calm­ing at­mos­phere of the clinic, which is one floor down from the city’s only 24-houra-day emer­gency room for pets.

The ren­o­va­tions have a ther­a­peu­tic ef­fect on pets, Miss Wort­man said, but added that it was just as im­por­tant to cre­ate a set­ting in which own­ers also feel re­laxed.

“The prac­ti­tioner can only help the an­i­mal through the per­son,” she said.

Still, the push for the new treat­ments — also known as holis­tic or com­ple­men­tary medicine — has not come so much from vets, whose med­i­cal train­ing is still steeped in the rig­ors of the West­ern sci­en­tific tra­di­tion.

“It has been more con­sumer­driven,” said Joe O’He­hir, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Pets Un­lim­ited.

Mar­i­lyn Char­trand of Alameda, Calif., is one of those con­sumers.

“I do holis­tic things for my body. So I thought, how ex­cit­ing that they’re do­ing this for an­i­mals,” said Miss Char­trand, who adopted a cat from Pets Un­lim­ited.

She said she treats her cat with aro­mather­apy when she gets sick, of­fer­ing her dif­fer­ent scents to in­hale. “She knows which ones her sys­tem needs,” Miss Char­trand said.

That holis­tic medicine for an­i­mals would catch on in San Fran­cisco, which also ush­ered in the no-kill move­ment in an­i­mal shel­ters in the 1990s, comes as lit­tle sur­prise. But the field is catch­ing on among ve­teri­nar­i­ans across the coun­try.

The Mary­land-based Amer­i­can Holis­tic Vet­eri­nary Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion claims more than 800 mem­bers from Florida to Alaska. And Miss Char­trand learned about an al­ter­na­tive treat­ment called ther­a­peu­tic touch from her sis­ter, a vet­eri­nar­ian who uses the tech­nique on horses in Kansas.

Still, de­spite broad­en­ing ac­cep­tance, al­ter­na­tive medicine for an­i­mals faces con­tin­ued skep­ti­cism.

The Amer­i­can Vet­eri­nary Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion said in re­cent guide­lines on al­ter­na­tive med­i­cal tech­niques for an­i­mals that the or­ga­ni­za­tion is “open to their con­sid­er­a­tion.”

But it stressed that the qual­ity of re­search into dif­fer­ent meth­ods varies, say­ing some prac­tices “may dif­fer from cur­rent sci­en­tific knowl­edge.”

As­so­ci­ated Press

Nat­u­ral cures for Fido: Pets Un­lim­ited, a non­profit an­i­mal hospi­tal in San Fran­cisco, has stocked its shelves with herbal reme­dies for sick an­i­mals.

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