Wednesday, 1 April 2015

“And now for something completely different”

Our Sarah has been limping on and off for the past few months. We have tried all sorts from massage (of course), to magnetic therapy and even ultrasound. Plus we have had quite a few visits to the vets to see if they can actually localise the issue. She is now on long-term NSAIDs and is 75% better but I want that to be totally better. 

Although she is not displaying pain, in that her tail is up and she never drags behind, there is still an obvious limp on the front left leg. Plus she has recently started to develop a thickening around the left lumbar area as her body tends to be held in a slight U shape now – with weight being transferred to her right hind leg. We began to think that maybe her problem was no longer the arthritis but actually muscular. However we really needed confirmation and a second opinion plus an alternative method of treating her issue. 

 I have had acupuncture myself with amazing results so finally decided to book Sarah in for an appointment with a vet acupuncturist from our own surgery. Guy Liebenberg works at Coastway Veterinary Practice and is qualified as an animal acupuncturist. Yesterday we took Sarah over to his practice in Portslade for her session. 

He immediately diagnosed what he had thought – namely that her limping was not due to any problem in her wrist or elbow but actually came from her left. The original issue might have been her arthritis but he thinks that has now passed and the issue is due to her long-term compensation. 

He explained all about acupuncture and the results he has and proceeded to insert 12 needles into Sarah. Our girl is a tough ol’ girl and just stood stock still while he did it. He was amazed at her resilience so inserted some more taking the total up to 20. 
 
He said that she will yawn three times. “Okayyyyyy” I thought. So I looked at Chris, he looked at me, we looked at Sarah and she yawned. "That's number one" Guy said. We continued discussing her issues and she yawned again. "And there's number two" he said. A couple more needle twiddles and she yawned again. "Told you" he said. We were gobsmacked. 

She had her needles in for the full 30 minutes and simply rested her head in my hands looking at me as though to say “I don’t actually LIKE this but I will tolerate it as I trust you Dad”. 

I was very impressed that Guy didn't try to sell us a whole series of treatments but said that the one treatment today plus daily massage, especially with the hands-free Butterfly move that Chris has learned and started doing on her nightly, will finally sort her out. He said that using the two complementary therapies will be doubly beneficial and bring about much faster recovery than using either alone. He said that should the issue ever come back, then all we would probably need is another top-up session. 

Clearly dogs, although we now they are really intelligent, have no concept of a placebo effect. So if the treatment works, then it works. Who cares about the whys and wherefores, if it fixes it, then that suits me. 

We took her for a short walk and the difference was already noticeable. She had so much more mobility for the first time in weeks and her little backside was wiggling like mad. It was like she actually felt free. 

If you have a dog with long term mobility issues or know of someone who does, I can wholeheartedly recommend acupuncture. Drop me a line if you want to know more about our experience. 

That evening I saw a very timely article about animal pain from Dr Jessica Vogelsang and the importance of being able to recognise it yourself : 

http://www.petmd.com/blogs/thedailyvet/jvogelsang/2015/march/listen-your-eyes-tell-if-your-pet-pain-32570 ). 

At the end of her article she says “The best pain control in pets, as in people, comes with multimodal pain management: using more than one approach that addresses pain from multiple fronts. It’s good stuff. We’re blessed to be able to provide these comforts for our pets. If your pet has any changes in behaviour, from reluctance to eat to a change in exercise tolerance, give your vet a call” which is exactly what we did. 

Very timely indeed. 

Sarah all evening after her acupuncture treatment - fast asleep

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