Daisy is a happy 14 year old beagle. She overall seems to be doing well but recently Daisy started occasionally urinating and defecating in her sleep. Daisy was brought to Dr. Goodvet for an examination and diagnostics. Overall Daisy’s exam was normal and her blood work looked great! Dr. Goodvet wanted to be extra certain there was no underlying disease, so she also performed a fecal, urinalysis and abdominal X-rays. There were no abnormalities seen with her fecal, the urinalysis was perfect and the X-Rays looked great. Dr. Goodvet discussed with Daisy’s mom that the urinary and fecal incontinence is likely secondary to Daisy’s age and weakness in her muscle tone.

When acupuncture needles are inserted into specific points in the body they can stimulate the release of substances that may help to strengthen the muscles associated with the bladder and the rectum.

Dr. Goodvet spoke of several medications that may improve Daisy’s urinary incontinence, but unfortunately there are no good medications that will improve the fecal incontinence. Dr. Goodvet also mentioned that since Daisy is so healthy and the urinary incontinence is only occasionally occurring, Daisy’s mom could continue to monitor until the urinary incontinence episodes occur more frequently and preform a medication trial at that time. Daisy’s mom thanked Dr. Goodvet for the thorough work up and information. She took Daisy home to think about her options. Daisy’s mom doesn’t mind cleaning up the urine and feces, but she knows that Daisy may be uncomfortable or embarrassed when she wakes up in her bed with urine or feces. Daisy’s mom would prefer to not start any new medications at this time, because in the past Daisy has been really challenging to medicate (even when mom tries to hide the pills in yummy treats/snacks). Daisy’s mom heard that acupuncture may be able to improve the frequency of urinary and fecal incontinence in aging pets.

Can acupuncture help with urinary and fecal incontinence in our aging pets?
Yes!! When acupuncture needles are inserted into specific points in the body, they can stimulate the release of substances that may help to strengthen the muscles associated with the bladder and the rectum. These needles can also have a positive impact on Daisy’s entire body, helping to keep her feeling good throughout the aging process.

If we are trying to reduce the frequency of urinary and fecal incontinence, will the needles be put in sensitive areas that could hurt Daisy?
No!! Based on the nerve supply throughout the body, a needle inserted on Daisy’s back or leg, can cause a positive effect on her urinary and fecal incontinence. Typically 5-15 needles will be inserted that are left in between 10-30 minutes. The insertion of the needle is typically pain free, and normally pets rest comfortably until the needles are removed.

Are there some acupuncturists that combine an eastern and western approach?
Yes!! Acupuncture has been used for 3,000 years, and that is much longer than any of the typical treatment modalities we use today. We know that when a needle is inserted into a specific point in the body, good inflammatory cells and local substances are released inside of the body that can have a positive response. We also know that chemicals further away from where the needle is inserted are released (ex. The brain) that can give us a more long term positive response. 3,000 years ago the acupuncturists were not aware of these chemicals being released. At that time when a person was healthy the body was considered balanced. When a person was unhealthy or diagnosed with a disease, the body was considered unbalanced. So an acupuncturist would make a diagnosis based on which organ was either working too much or not working enough and then acupuncture points were chosen in order to strengthen the weak organ and calm or sedate the organ that was working too hard. This is the basic concept of ancient Chinese medicine. There are some veterinary acupuncturists that take mainly a western approach and some that mainly use an eastern approach. There are also veterinary acupuncturists that combine both an eastern approach and western approach.

Are there any veterinary acupuncturists local in Hampton Roads that combine an eastern approach and western approach, and may be able to help decrease the frequency of Daisy’s urinary and fecal incontinence?
Yes! Dr. Tyler Carmack, Dr. Jeanette Schacher, and Dr. Sharon Cubelo are Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists that approach every diagnosis or individual pet concern from both an eastern and western approach. They find using both approaches helps them to treat their patients most effectively and have the most positive response.

How quickly could we see a positive response with fecal and urinary incontinence issues?
The doctors of Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice, In-Home Euthanasia, and Integrative Medicine would do an initial evaluation. So they would thoroughly discuss history, preform an exam and then would be able to let you know how quickly they expect to see improvement. Depending on the full evaluation, we may start to see improvement in the urinary and fecal incontinence anywhere from 1-6 weeks.

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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 at 757-474-5968.