Our integrative approach allow us to reach beyond the limits of standard practice only veterinarians.
The Science of Acupuncture
Acupuncture points (or “Acupoints”) are areas throughout the body where there is a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles, and lymphatic vessels. Most acupoints are neural motor points, which is where a nerve enters a muscle. Amazingly, there are 173 acupoints in animals (361 in humans).
Stimulating acupoints relieves any blockage, restores the flow of Qi, and facilitates self-healing. In western medicine we call this homeostasis, which is restored when Yin and Yang are in balance. Modern medical research has shown that stimulating acupoints induces the release of beta-endorphins, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters. The release and absorption of these powerful chemicals in the body promotes natural pain relief and inner balance.
Safety & Procedure
Most pets don’t even realize the needles are being placed and frequently fall asleep during treatment. Each session lasts about 40 to 60 minutes.
During the first 15 minutes of your initial appointment with us your pet’s total health is assessed, including a history of diet, exercise, physical and social habits, surgeries, as well as prior and current medications. This review with you the owner is then followed by a complete physical examination of your animal. The following 30 minutes is dedicated to needle placement and treatment time. The amount of acupuncture treatments needed depends on the nature, severity, and duration of a disease or condition. It is not uncommon for a single treatment to be enough for an acute condition, such as recent injury or pain.
A series of three to ten treatments can resolve many chronic problems; however, some chronic conditions may need more treatments spread over time. Expect your pet to be mildly lethargic or drowsy for 24-48 hours after an acupuncture session as the body’s natural healing process is triggered.
Physiological Effects of Acupuncture
Numerous studies indicate that acupuncture induces the following physiological effects:
• Pain Relief
• Regulation of gastrointestinal motility
• Anti-inflammatory effect
• Hormone and reproductive regulation
• Anti-febrile effect; microcirculation promotion
Advanced Acupuncture Methods and Tools
In some more complicated cases, Dr. Delia Macdonald may elect to use advanced acupuncture practices and tools to enhance the effects of stimulated acupoints or, in some cases, replace acupuncture techniques if your pet is less inclined to accept dry needle insertion.
Acupressure is useful for hard to reach locations, behaviorally challenged pets, and for circumstances when needle treatment is not available. By administering pressure to acupoints, Dr. Macdonald can often create an effect comparable to needle insertion. Clients may recognize some of these techniques used from personal experience or knowledge of Osteopathic Medicine and Chiropractic modalities. In some cases, relief is immediately and visibly noticeable to the animal.
To stimulate acupoints for a longer duration, Dr. Macdonald may inject liquids such as homeopathics, diluted vitamin B12, chondroprotectant medications (Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycans = PSGAG), etc. This practice is referred to as Aquapuncture and combines the immediate relief of acupuncture with the longer-term absorption of the medication and its chemical impact on the body.
Heat can often be very beneficial to older pets and those suffering from conditions involving joint stiffness and muscular pain. The application of a heated Chinese herbal compound to needles or directly above areas of stagnation/inflammation is called Moxibustion. The combination of neuro-muscular stimulation via acupuncture needle and the soothing effect of heat on muscles and joints, serves as powerful pain relief.
E-Stim is used to push an electrical current into the body between needle insertions into acupoints. E-stim relaxes spasming muscles and can aid the body in reestablishing nervous impulses when nerve damage has occurred (nerve root or spinal cord damage from a ruptured inverterbral disc, etc).
Laser energy can be used to stimulate acupoints. Lasers are cool and don’t generate enough significant heat to burn hair or skin. Dr. Macdonald may also use lasers to perform “needle-less” acupuncture treatments, especially on patients that don’t readily tolerate needle insertion. They can also be used as a post-needling add-on to enhance the effects of the chosen points. Harmony Holistic Veterinary Care carries and uses the latest in cold laser technology and equipment.
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine by thy food” – Hippocrates
One of the more incredible things in western society, is how little attention we truly pay to the food that we fuel ourselves and our lives with every day. It is no different with our animals. What you choose to feed your pet on a daily basis is the single most important health choice you will make for your beloved furry family member. Price, appearance and good advertising betray us and our pet’s health more often than not.
The standard kibble is a good example. While convenient, common kibble is produced after several rounds of processing. An extremely high heat index is required in kibble processing, which leads to blanched nutrients, disfigured cell bonds and alterations of protein structures. To compensate for these missing nutrients and denatured components, manufacturers attempt to replace them by synthetic vitamins and supplements.
If you pour a cup of water on dry kibble it will puff up and absorb the water. When your pet eats regular dry kibble, the same process occurs in the digestive tract, except moisture is drawn out of your pet’s body and into the dry food. Consequently, most pets eating a dry kibble diet live in a constant state of low-grade dehydration and inflammation. This creates a set-up for chronic illness. Pet food companies have convinced the general public that feeding our pets whole foods (raw or home cooked) is harmful, when in fact, feeding our pets heavily processed dry food can lead to poor nutrition and poor health. Not all dog foods are created equal. If your pet is currently eating over-the-counter dry dog food, consider scheduling a dietary consultation with Dr. Macdonald today.
Using Food to Remedy Health Problems
Holistic veterinarians promoting proper nutrition will often recommend (from best to worst) a raw food diet, home-cooked meals, canned food, then select kibble. Combine these rankings with the TCVM theory that foods have specific energetic properties (such as warming and cooling or drying and moistening) and you begin to understand some of the concepts behind food therapy.
Food energetics identifies properties in foods that will have a positive effect on your pet’s health. For example, if your pet is experiencing excess body heat, Dr. Macdonald may recommend proteins, vegetables, and fruits with cooling properties to aid in balancing your pet’s temperature. If overhauling your pet’s diet is not an option, simply adding various supplemental foods or herbs could also have a positive effect.
Holistic veterinarians practicing food therapy are witnessing better overall pet health and often resolution of syndromes which would commonly call for prescription medications. This is an animal in Harmony.
Chinese Herbal Therapy
The use of herbs and tinctures in Chinese medicine dates back over 3,000 years. Their use and application is broad and the results often incredible. Besides enhancing overall health, when combined with other treatment modalities herbal therapy can be applied to a litany of medical disorders involving behavior, dermatology, cardiology, gastroenterology, oncology, respiratory, reproduction, and sports medicine or injury.
One of the key objectives in your initial comprehensive appointment with Dr. Macdonald will be to formulate a pattern diagnosis based on Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). This analytical process includes tongue and pulse characteristics, body temperature, skin tone and texture, behavior patterns at home and amongst a pack, joint mobility, temperament and more. With this complete picture in mind, the doctor is well suited to design a custom wellness protocol which may include the prescription of herbal formulas for chronic and acute conditions. Most Chinese herbs can be used alone or in conjunction with Western and Eastern medicine. All of the herbs carried by Harmony Holistic Veterinary Care are of the highest industry standards, 100% natural and routinely tolerated by pets when introduced slowly. Most can be administered by capsules, tinctures or powders mixed in with your pet’s food.
The ultimate goal of herbal therapy is to treat disorders naturally, and lower the amount of prescription medication a pet is exposed to. One of the most common examples is the standard western medicine treatment of an arthritic dog, which frequently defaults to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) to treat pain. At Harmony, we believe in treating these patients with herbal therapy in conjunction with acupuncture and a sound pet-appropriate diet regimen. In doing so, it is extremely common for us to control their pain, wean them off of the potentially nephrotoxic (kidney-toxic) NSAID medications, whilst simultaneously improving their energy and cognitive function – an animal in Harmony.
Here are just some of the conditions that we often see and treat.
Allergies and Autoimmune Disorders
Autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells. These diseases may take many forms; from allergies to impaired adrenal and thyroid function. In some cases the body may be hyper-responsive to an external stimulus, such as certain foods or medicines, or environmental ones such as dust and climate. In others, the body may merely attack itself with no such external demands placed upon it. Traditional Western medicine tends to default to treating the symptoms on display, for instance allergies with steroids, or hormone replacement medication with dysfunctional glands. At Harmony, our holistic approach is focused on treating the root cause of the disease.
“Old age is not a disease.”
As with humans, when our pets age they tend to become increasingly prone to degenerative diseases of the muscles, bones and joints. Of course, these changes are not limited to older animals. Many young animals suffer tendon and ligament trauma and require surgical repair. Here at Harmony, we successfully treat a myriad of pain and soft tissue conditions. We also excel at post-surgical rehabilitation and pain management so that you and your pet can get back to enjoying your life
together. Whether you have a sweet geriatric animal that needs support to continue moving fluidly, or a young athlete that requires support after an injury, we have a variety of approaches to help heal, balance and support your pet to live a happy and pain-free life.
• Degenerative Arthritis (such as hip and elbow dysplasia)
• Pulled, torn or strained muscles and more musculoskeletal conditions.
• Facial & radial nerve paralysis
• Intervertebral disc disease
• Peripheral nerve disease
• Urinary & fecal incontinence
Unfortunately due to many contributing factors such as age, breed, weight and activity level we see many traumatic neurologic conditions. Long-backed dogs, such as Dachshunds are particularly prone to “intervertebral disc disease” or IVDD. Vertebral disc hardening (known as “calcification”) can lead to pressure or protrusion on the spinal cord which, in turn can cause pain, incoordination and too often, paralysis. Traditional medicine offers few treatments for this condition aside from surgery at a specialty veterinary center. With quick intervention through electro-acupuncture we have an astounding success rate at getting rapid healing of nerves and management of this often fatal condition. PLEASE contact us ASAP if your pet has been diagnosed with a “neurologic disorder of the spine.” We will see your pet on an emergency basis. The sooner we can get this animal into treatment the less likely the paralysis will be permanent. We work in close partnership with the Prescott Area Pet Emergency Hospital to treat these patients in a timely fashion.
FCE or “fibrocartilaginous embolism” is another emergency condition that presents with neurological symptoms. This is more commonly seen in young, large or active dogs. It is commonly non-painful and will typically set in over several hours following strenuous activity such as Frisbee play. It too, should be treated immediately with electro-acupuncture.
Additional conditions treated.
• IVDD or Intervertebral Disc Disease
• FCE or Fibrocartilaginous Embolism
• Cervical disc disease
• Idiopathic seizure activity
• Peripheral neuropathy
Cancer and Endocrine disease
Sometimes referred to as “The Emperor of All Maladies,” cancer is something that almost all of us in modern society have had touch their lives in some way. The medical term for cancer is “neoplasia.” Neo, meaning “new” and plasia, meaning “growth.” Cancer is simply cell transcription gone awry. It can arise in any tissue type. This would be considered the “primary” or first cancer. When (or if) the disease spreads to other parts of the body, is how we classify the aggressiveness of the disease.
Unfortunately, due to MANY contributing factors, cancer appears to be on the rise in our pet friends. Diet, over-vaccination, early spay/neuter protocols, breeding practices and genetics are a few of the top contributors to the rise of cancer. However, many other factors appear to be at play. The body has a whole host of fighter cells whose job it is to find and destroy “neoplastic” cells. We consider these our
Here at Harmony we harness the power of these fighting cells, develop a personalized Chinese Herb and dietary protocol to help support the body and work closely with your conventional veterinarian to provide the optimal integrative care for your pet.
Whatever your goal we will come up with a plan to support you and your pet as you navigate this challenging disease.