Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine
Acupuncture is a safe form of medical treatment for many human and animal disorders that has evolved as a medical practice over millennia. Its correct and effective use requires extensive professional study and training. For licensed veterinarians, training, testing and certification is provided through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS). Dr. Blackshear successfully completed the IVAS coursework and testing in April 2012, and completed the internship and case reports to attain Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist certification.
Historians and archeologists believe that the practice and study of acupuncture began ~3,000 years ago, evolving as a part of the science of what is now known as traditional Chinese medicine, along with Chinese herbal medicine and other forms of healthcare and bodywork. Thousands of years ago, the Chinese wrote the first known book of veterinary medicine, which included using herbal formulas and acupuncture for livestock care. Many people in the west are familiar with acupuncture, and know that the specific acupuncture needle insertion points are along meridians. These meridians can be traced over the skin of the body, and correspond to the routes of nerves, vessels and lymphatics. Needling these highly specific meridian points affects the local blood flow dynamics, pain modulating compounds (such as endorphins), and results in systemic effects, too.
Modern acupuncture needles are solid, sterile surgical steel, very fine, and often coated for reduced resistance and patient discomfort as they are inserted. Needle insertions are still sometimes felt by patients, but usually as minor, very brief sensations. Acupuncture can relieve symptoms and lessen discomfort of many canine and feline health problems. The following is a partial list of health problems that decades of clinical experience have shown to be treated effectively with acupuncture:
- acute musculoskeletal inflammation, pain and wound healing from injuries
- arthritis/hip dysplasia
- back pain from disc disease
- acute or chronic vomiting
- cancer therapy
- neurologic disorders
- anxiety and phobias
An acupuncture treatment costs $35. Of course, an examination and consultation is always done before any acupuncture begins. Initial examination and workup is $74; subsequent recheck exams with acupuncture are $30-$35. For more effectiveness, acupuncture treatment is often augmented by prescribing Chinese herbal formulas. Dr Blackshear orders and prescribes herbs and tinctures from a few companies—Kan Herbals, Herbsmith, Natural Path, and Jing Tang Herbals—with confidence in their quality and purity. These suppliers are US-based and regulated veterinary specific companies.
I am conservative about administering vaccinations and only do so if they are necessary. In addition, I only use mercury-thimersol-free vaccines! For middle aged and older pets I caution against any vaccinations unless truly necessary, and NEVER vaccinate a sick or compromised animal! We can discuss your pets’ specific situation then decide what is best.
The state of Oregon requires that dogs get a certified rabies vaccination, every three years.
The American Animal Hospital Association recommends giving feline and canine distemper complex vaccinations (FVRCP for cats and DHLP/DHP for dogs) every three years, or more often if the animal is at increased risk of high-frequent exposure, such as would be encountered in frequent traveling to “shows.”
Feline leukemia vaccine is only appropriate for cats that are truly at risk—mostly outdoors and fighting a lot. The virus is transmitted through breeding and fighting/bites. The side effects for this vaccination can include cancer at the injection site, so you will want to carefully consider the risks.
Some boarding kennels require the canine Bordetella vaccination, which is specifically for “kennel cough.” This illness is marked by a dry hacking cough; the pet rarely runs a fever or gets really ill, but he is uncomfortable for a few weeks and is highly contagious to other dogs. I recommend the vaccination for dogs that are frequently boarded or are traveling.
Costs: The rabies and distemper vaccinations are $16 each at the time of the initial examination. The Bordetella and Feline Leukemia vaccinations cost more.