Thursday, April 17, 2014

I have a new tool in my toolbox! Acupuncture

I now have a tool in my veterinary toolbox to treat pain, and inflammation.  I am thrilled to report
that last Sunday, at Colorado State University,  I received my Certification in Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians!  It has been a four month intensive course that has challenged me in many ways, and taught me many new things.  

I have been searching  for a better  way to treat my chronic pain patients, and acupuncture will now allow me to achieve this.  You see,  cats do not respond well to Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS).  Many of the commonly used drugs like Advil and Tylenol are quite toxic to cats.  Many of the NSAIDS commonly used in dogs CAN NOT be used safely in cats.   And most medications for arthritis or pain have many unsafe long term side effects.   

And although cats are masters at hiding the pain of arthritis, research shows that ALL cats over 10 years of age are affected by some degree of arthritis.  Signs that you may notice at home are rabbit hopping up or down stairs, taking stairs one at a time, hesitating before jumping up or down -just to name a few.   But honestly, most people do not recognize ANY signs of pain in their geriatric kitties.   But the arthritis is still there.

Cats suffer from other types of pain as well -just like you and I.  A common condition is dental pain.  You know what I am talking about!    Dental pain HURTS!  Cats with dental pain eat more slowly, but they still eat!  Cats with dental pain sometimes have very tender painful necks, as their spinal nerves in this area are hyperactive.  Again, many of these painful cats show NO signs at all, so you really have watch closely to detect these subtle changes.

I have clients that ask if cats FEEL pain like we do.  The answer is a definite YES.  Cats have the same intricate nervous system as  humans.   But cats do not SHOW SIGNS of pain like we do.  In the animal world, it is a sign of weakness to show pain, and a weak animal is at a great disadvantage.   Look closely when your cat moves, sits, jumps and see if you can notice the subtle signs of pain.

So lets talk acupuncture.  Many cats actually relax and purr during their treatment.  Some cats will kneed or fall asleep with their needles in place .  I treated Peabody with some relaxation points, and he immediately started to drool (his sign of relaxation) and purr.  I plan on posting videos of a few of my treatments, so watch for these coming soon.  I am also testing a  therapeutic laser that can be used for NEEDLE-LESS acupuncture, for my patients that are needle-shy.  More on this later.

 So if I talk TOO much over the next few months about how excited I am to introduce these new modalities  into my practice, please forgive me for my enthusiasm.  On the other hand, if you WANT to talk acupuncture,  it is currently my new favorite subject. :)

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic