Scenario: Petunia’s anxiety
Petunia was recently rescued from a local animal shelter. According to the shelter, she was found roaming the streets without any identification. She was brought to the shelter and examined by a veterinarian. Other than being mildly underweight, the veterinarian felt that she was overall in good health and had a good temperament. She was estimated to be between 3-5 years old. Her heart worm test was negative and her fecal showed intestinal parasites. Petunia was put on heartworm prevention, with the plan to retest her in six months, and she was all treated for intestinal parasites. Several weeks after Petunia was initially brought to the shelter, she was put up for adoption. Petunia only stayed on the adoption floor for 2 days before Petunia’s new Mom spotted her. There was an instant connection! Petunia was adopted that same day. When Petunia got to her new home, she cautiously explored her new environment. Petunia was so sweet and loving, and as she explored her new home, she made sure to keep her new mom always in sight! Over the next several days Petunia became more comfortable with her home environment. Although Petunia seemed to be doing well, Petunia’s mom wanted to have her veterinarian, Dr. Goodvet, preform a thorough exam. A few weeks later, Petunia’s mom scheduled a health check visit. Dr. Goodvet reviewed Petunia’s health records, and made a good plan to keep Petunia up to date on all of her preventative care. Dr. Goodvet also performed a full exam and found that overall Petunia looked great! Petunia’s weight was now perfect! Dr. Goodvet recommended that Petunia’s mom continued doing the most important thing that she had been doing since bringing Petunia into her home, provide a consistent, loving and supportive environment!! The summer continued to progress well, and because Petunia’s mom was an elementary school teacher, they got to spend so much time together and go on so many adventures. As the school year approached, Petunia’s mom started to prepare Petunia for her work schedule. Petunia’s mom added some calming sprays / diffusers into the home to help reduce any anxiety Petunia may have associated with the schedule transition. Two weeks before the school year started, Petunia’s mom started leaving Petunia home more during the day, to try to mimic what a typical school day would look like for Petunia.
When the school year started, Petunia’s mom could see mild changes in Petunia consistent with anxiety. Petunia started shaking when Petunia’s mom would be getting ready for work or when she was leaving the home. Mom would also note that Petunia started licking one of her front limbs frequently, which is something that Petunia had never done before. When Petunia’s mom was home over the summer, Petunia was always mom’s shadow. Since school started, Petunia had continued to be mom’s shadow but rather then calmly following mom from room to room, Petunia started vocalizing and whining as she followed mom around the house. Petunia’s mom didn’t see any other health concerns, but she just wanted to make sure that Petunia was not having any underlying health problems. Petunia’s mom scheduled an appointment with Dr. Goodvet. Dr. Goodvet did a thorough exam which overall looked great. There did not seem to be any skin concerns or underlying health issues with the area that Petunia has been consistently licking on her forelimb. Just to be extra cautious, Dr. Goodvet did a small amount of blood work to make sure that Petunia’s organs were functioni
ng well, and overall the blood work looked great. Dr. Goodvet discussed that although there have only been mild changes consistent with anxiety, sometimes these behaviors can progress over time and really start to affect both the owner and pets quality of life. Dr. Goodvet discussed several behavioral modification techniques that Petunia’s mom can do at the home to reduce Petunia’s anxiety. Dr. Goodvet also discussed several oral anti-anxiety medications that can be added in conjunction with behavioral modification. Dr. Goodvet feels that although medications may not be necessary at this time, it may be something that needs to be considered in the future. Dr. Goodvet also mentioned that acupuncture, combined with behavioral modification techniques, may help to further reduce Petunia’s anxiety and help provide more emotional support. Dr. Goodvet stated that there are several Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists located nearby. Petunia’s mom is very open to any recommendations, but she wants to try to avoid putting Petunia on any oral anti-anxiety medications.
Can Acupuncture help with Petunia’s anxiety?
Yes!! Acupuncture can address behavioral concerns. When the body is “centered” or “in balance” a pet should be healthy. And when the body is not “centered” or “in balance” then a pet can appear emotionally distressed or suffer from disease. When a certified veterinary acupuncturist evaluates a pet, they gather all of the information including – history, western exam findings (traditional exam performed at a veterinary hospital), eastern exam findings and then the certified veterinary acupuncturist makes a Chinese diagnosis. This Chinese diagnosis indicates which Chinese organ may be working too much or may not be working hard enough. The certified veterinary acupuncturist can then chooses points that either help strengthen the Chinese organ that is weak, or sedate (calm) the Chinese organ that is over working. So overall the goal is to figure out why the pet is not “centered” and choose points that allow the pet to become balanced. When the pet is balanced, there should be no issues with anxiety.
Could Acupuncture cause Petunia’s anxiety to get worse?
No. Acupuncture may not make Petunia’s anxiety 100% better, but it should not make her anxiety worse. If Petunia’s anxiety during the session seems to be increased, then the certified veterinary acupuncturist will make a good plan to keep the acupuncture experience as positive as possible! There are very few pets that have a lot of anxiety during the acupuncture session. Most pets will lay comfortably playing with a toy, or chewing on a bone, during needle placement. The certified veterinary acupuncturist will always make recommendations that are in Petunia’s best interest.
How quickly could we see a positive response in Petunia’s anxiety?
We could see a positive response anywhere between 1-6 sessions. Typically it takes at least 3-4 sessions, to see a significant positive response with behavioral concerns. Once a positive response is seen, the certified veterinary acupuncturist will recommend how frequently Petunia should continue to have acupuncture appointments. If Petunia’s anxiety resolves, the certified veterinary acupuncturist may recommend an acupuncture session every 6-8 weeks, to help keep Petunia’s body centered. Or the certified veterinary acupuncturist may recommend acupuncture sessions only when there is a big “life change” or “schedule change”, to support Petunia’s body through those transitions.
I have heard that CBD oil can help reduce a pet’s anxiety. Can this be used in combination with acupuncture?
There is a lot of research being conducted in the human and pet world about the benefits of CBD oil. As we learn more about the endocannabinoid system, we are gaining more information on the benefits of CBD oil and the disease processes that it can help treat. Essential oils and several herbal medications have also been shown to help reduce a pet’s anxiety. The Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist will discuss all the options that may benefit Petunia and make a good plan that fits Petunia’s specific needs.
Will the Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, communicate with Dr. Goodvet?
Yes. At Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice, we know how important your primary care veterinarians are! After every visit, we will send a fax to the primary care veterinarian, letting them know that Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice had an appointment with Petunia. If the primary care veterinarian has any further questions, they can contact us and we can discuss further!
This sounds really great! Are there any Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist’s in Hampton Roads that are located near me or that are able to come to the home for acupuncture?
Yes!! Dr. Tyler Carmack and Dr. Jeanette Schacher, are both Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists. Dr. Carmack and Dr. Schacher are able to come to your home! At the initial consult, Dr. Carmack or Dr. Schacher will discuss the current history and concerns, they will perform a full western and eastern examination. After discussing their recommendations and expectations for Petunia, they will make an acupuncture plan. The first acupuncture session will occur at the end of the initial consult! Dr. Carmack and Dr. Schacher are excited to evaluate Petunia and make a good plan to help reduce or hopefully eliminate Petunia’s anxiety!!
If you have a pet you think would benefit from an integrative medicine and acupuncture consultation, please contact Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice at 757-474-5968.