Acupuncture has been around for over 3,000 years.It has been shown that inserting acupuncture needles into specific points cause the release of serotonin, endorphins and specific neurotransmitters that can help with both acute (sudden) and chronic (long term) pain.

Hotdawg is a 6 year old female spayed Dachshund. She was adopted as a puppy and was overall very healthy until she was about 5 years old. At that time Hotdawg started having some issues with her hind limbs. Hotdawg’s human family previously had several Dachshund’s, so they were very familiar with this breed and the concern for Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). Hotdawg’s mom immediately scheduled an appointment with Hotdawg’s veterinarian, Dr. Goodvet. Throughout Dr. Goodvet’s examination, she did consistently find that Hotdawg was painful when palpating (touching) her thoracic and lumbar spine. Dr. Goodvet also performed a full neurologic exam on Hotdawg, which showed that Hotdawg could feel her back legs but she was not completely aware of where her body was in space. This made Hotdawg look like she was “drunk” when she was walking. Dr. Goodvet recommended blood work and x-rays, which Hotdawg’s mom consented to. The blood work looked great. The X-rays showed mild narrowing between several vertebral bodies (the bones that protect the spinal cord), but Dr. Goodvet said that these were very mild changes. Dr. Goodvet did not see anything else concerning on the X-rays. Based on Hotdawg’s exam and diagnostics, Dr. Goodvet discussed further treatment options and recommended that they attempt to medically manage Hotdawg. Medial management included an oral anti-inflammatory medication, several oral pain medications and strict exercise restriction. Dr. Goodvet discussed that if Hotdawg does not improve or gets worse, then she may need to see a specialist and have more advanced imaging preformed. Hotdawg’s mom followed all of the recommendations made by Dr. Goodvet. For the first several months Hotdawg did great! Hotdawg’s mom followed up with the regularly scheduled rechecks and Dr. Goovet was very happy with Hotdawg’s progress.Unfortunately 6 months later, Hotdawg developed similar mobility concerns in her hind limbs. Hotdawg’s mom was able to schedule an appointment with Dr. Goodvet the same day she noticed the change in Hotdawg’s mobility. Dr. Goovet performed a full exam, and noted exam findings similar to when Hotdawg initially presented. Dr. Goodvet did note that the pain seemed to be more severe at this exam, and Hotdawg seemed to have less feeling in her hind limbs. Dr. Goodvet repeated the spinal X-rays and overall they looked similar to the X-rays previously taken. Dr. Goodvet recommended Hotdawg be referred to a specialist for an evaluation and further diagnostics (advanced imaging – CT / MRI). Hotdawg was taken to a specialty center the same day and she was able to be evaluated by the specialist. Based on Hotdawg’s history and exam findings, an MRI was recommended. Hotdawg’s mom consented to all recommendations. The MRI showed several disc spaces in Hotdawg’s thoracic and lumbar spine that were concerning. The treatment options were discussed, and based on Hotdawg’s age, history, exam findings and the MRI results, surgery was elected. Hotdawg did great during surgery!! Hotdawg was closely monitored at the specialty center for 2 days after surgery. At discharge Hotdawg’s mobility was dramatically improved! The Licensed veterinary technician went through the discharge paperwork with Hotdawg’s mom. They discussed the pain medications that Hotdawg was prescribed and the rechecks that will occur over the next several months. The technician also mentioned that the Specialist recommends as part of the post-operative care, that Hotdawg follow up with a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. The technician explained that the specialist feels that when acupuncture is incorporated in the immediate post-operative period, pets seems to heal faster and are more comfortable. The technician stated that there are several Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists located nearby. As always, Hotdawg’s mom wants what is best for Hotdawg and follows all of the recommendations.

The Neurosurgeon is recommending that Hotdawg have acupuncture preformed post-operatively after spinal surgery. Isn’t acupuncture “Voo Doo” Medicine?

No! Acupuncture has been around for over 3,000 years. There has been a lot of research preformed on the positive effects of inserting acupuncture needles into specific points on the body. It has been shown that inserting acupuncture needles into specific points cause the release of serotonin, endorphins and specific neurotransmitters that can help with both acute (sudden) and chronic (long term) pain. It has also been shown that inserting needles can have local effects. When a needle is inserted into a specific point on the body, good inflammatory cells and a larger blood supply will be brought to the area where the needle is inserted, which helps with healing. It has also been shown that the insertion of needles into specific points can cause a “myofascial release”, which through a number of mechanisms can help improve total body comfort. It is currently accepted that there are a number of mechanisms in play when an acupuncture needle is inserted into the body that causes a positive response in the body.

If Hotdawg is brought to a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA), will the Neurosurgeon be updated on Hotdawg’s progress?

The Neurosurgeon should be updated! Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice (HRVH) would make sure to update all of the veterinarians involved in Hotdawg’s care, every time Hotdawg is seen! Typically we send a fax to all of the Veterinarian’s Hotdawg has previously seen, and if they have any further questions about the visit we are happy to talk to them in more detail. We all have the same goal; we just want Hotdawg to feel as good as possible!

When Hotdawg is finished with her regular rechecks with the Neurosurgeon, will Hotdawg also be finished with acupuncture?

The Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist would discuss a good plan based on Hotdawg’s progress during the post-operative period and her response to acupuncture. Many pets that have spinal surgery can benefit from long term acupuncture. The Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist would make a good long term plan that is specific to Hotdawg’s needs.

Hotdawg is really good at the vet, but she seems to be more comfortable when her human family is with her and can give her good moral support. Can the family be present during her acupuncture sessions?

Yes!! The acupuncture session is very calm and relaxing. Any human or pet family members that want to be present can be! At Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice, we actually will come to the home and acupuncture Hotdawg in her comfortable safe environment. Hotdawg could lie on her bed, in her living room, with all of her human and pet family, while the acupuncture treatment is performed. She can play with a toy or chew on a bone while the needles are inserted. Many pets look forward to their acupuncture session!

This sounds really great! Are the veterinarians at Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice Certified in Veterinary Acupuncture? Are they located near me?

The Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists at Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice, In-Home Euthanasia, & Integrative Medicine look forward to working with you to keep your senior pet feeling frisky!

Yes! Dr. Tyler Carmack, Dr. Jeanette Schacher, and Dr. Sharon Cubelo are all Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists. The Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice & Integrative Medicine doctors are able to come to your home! At the initial consult, the veterinarian will discuss the current history and concerns, they will perform a full western and eastern examination. After discussing their recommendations and expectations for Hotdawg, they will make an acupuncture plan. The first acupuncture session will occur at the end of the initial consult! Dr. Carmack, Dr. Cubelo, and Dr. Schacher are excited to meet Hotdawg and make a plan for help with her post-operative healing and long-term care!

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If you have a pet you think would benefit from an integrative medicine and acupuncture consultation, please contact Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice, In-Home Euthanasia, and Integrative Medicine at 757-474-5968.