Who do you call when Fido or Fluffy just isn’t making it, and your usual vet has done all he can?
Many owners try alternative therapies for their pets, which can range from aromatherapies, like Feliway Diffusers to reduce anxiety and behavioral problems, to Rescue Remedy, a flower essence used to relieve stress.
Dr. Jeffrey Levy, DVM, CVA is another possibility. He’s a veterinarian who is also a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (hence the “CVA”), so he not only treats animals with traditional veterinary medicine but also uses acupuncture and acupressure; in addition, he is a Reiki practitioner and trained in canine rehabilitation.
Levy said many of his clients are referred by other vets. Common cases include older pets with arthritis, pets with back or hip problems where the animal is too old for surgery or where drugs may be too hard on their systems.
He recently spoke about the benefits of acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic care and other alternative modalities at a special workshop for people and their pets at the Bide-A-Wee Learning Center, on East 38th Street.
Cats and dogs have many of the same organs as humans, and Levy discussed how Eastern medicine views medical and mental problems associated with those organs. He expressed a special fondness for the gall bladder. “A curious organ,” he said, “that holds the refined essence of spirit. It is the organ in charge of good judgment. An organ to treat when the pet is having behavioral problems. Like when a cat or dog who’s used to living in the country and is having a hard time adjusting to city life.”
Levy also makes house calls; for more information, visit www.HousecallsForYourPet.com or call 212-465-1667.
Another form of alternative medicine for pets is the Tellington Touch (T Touch), a method based on small circular movements of the fingers and hands that goes down into the fur to touch the animal’s skin.
Mary Cummings Bruce, CTTP, is a guild certified practitioner of T Touch (hence the “CTTP”). She describes it as “a gentle touch that is all over the animal’s body, but so light that you can’t see the imprint of your fingers. It works with the nervous system to awaken cellular intelligence.”
Bruce, along with Peggy Marks, co-founded the organization Mindful Tails, which is associated with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.
Marks, who is also a CPPT, adds that T Touch, “reduces tension and stress, calms and relaxes the animal and alleviates fear.”
Proponents say the method is used by breeders, vets, zookeepers and universities all over the world. Bruce and Marks used T Touch on two of my animals: an anxious rescued Akita and a crabby rescued cat; both were much mellower after treatment.
Mindful Tails also makes house calls and will teach pet owners how to use T Touch. For more information, visit www.mitails.com.
But not everyone thinks highly of alternative medicine.
“Most of it seems to rely on unproven, unscientific concepts and methodologies with a lot of anecdotal support,” said Dr. Patrick Cotter, a Manhattan veterinarian and former medical director of the Humane Society. “If something works, I am all for it, but a lot of alternative medicine just doesn’t withstand scrutiny.”
Cotter said he rarely uses alternative therapies. Still, he acknowledges, “In cases of degenerative joint disease, pain relief and anxiety, acupuncture, aroma therapy and flower remedies maybe helpful.”
Dr. Michael Marder of Westside Veterinary Center said he agreed with that assessment, adding “It’s difficult to argue with someone who believes in it because it is a belief system.”
But another one of Westside Veterinary Center’s practitioners takes a different view. Dr. Nancy Ashley practices traditional medicine and is also a certified acupuncturist.
“The majority of my patients are older dogs with orthopedic problems—dogs who have trouble walking or standing after they’ve been lying down for a while,” Ashley said. “Acupuncture can help them lower their use of non-steroidal inflammatories.”
Ashley said she’s also seen acupuncture help animals with kidney problems, asthma and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Not everybody who says they’re an animal acupuncturist is certified. So if you want to try acupuncture on your pet, check the practitioner’s credentials, references from vets you know and references from other clients. The same goes for T Touch. Be sure you consult with a Guild Certified T Touch Practitioner.
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