Providing the best possible care for pets in need means going above and beyond to try new approaches for the challenges they face everyday. That’s exactly why Dr. Christine Garvey, a veterinarian at Lollypop Farm, became certified as a veterinary acupuncturist to bring innovative care to homeless and abused pets in our community.
Acupuncture has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. Thousands of years old in China conducting an autopsy to learn about the body was taboo. Medicine was based on patterns of systems that could only be observed. Acupuncture stimulates specific points on the body causing changes that can have benefits for health and wellness. Combined with today’s knowledge of Western medicine, we know acupuncture stimulates the nervous system and endocrine (hormone) systems of the body to alleviate pain, help with chronic diseases, and help the body to heal itself.
This ancient form of medicine developed and practiced on humans can be used to treat a variety of issues faced by pets at the shelter. “Some of our pets will come in and be really sensitive because of how stressed out they are. In that case, the behavior team and I will often work together,” says Dr. Garvey. She explained that acupuncture helps release endorphins or chemicals in the body that relieve anxiety and fear. It can also help recalibrate the response of the stress hormones like cortisol. Combined with behavior modification programs, acupuncture can mean a world of difference for pets once they arrive in the shelter.
Acupuncture can also help boost an animal’s immune system, helping reduce rates of infectious diseases like kennel cough. It can also treat chronic conditions like skin allergies, skin infections, ear infections, pain, and arthritis. “This gives us just another weapon in our arsenal to help our pets and hopefully get problems under control faster, so we can get animals out and into the community,” says Dr. Garvey.
It’s a technique that has made all the difference for pets like Tula. Dr. Garvey recalled the dog who came in from a cruelty case. As a result of poor genetics and poor nutrition, she was severely orthopedic and at one point could not walk. After working with her over several months, Dr. Garvey was able to give Tula the ability to get around and to truly be a dog. She’ll still need surgery, but the transformation has helped her heal when she was too stressed to receive other physical therapy treatments.
“We know a lot more now than in the ancient times about how acupuncture affects the circulation, hormone levels, and neurologic function,” says Dr. Garvey. And now, thanks to Dr. Garvey and Lou and Julia Applebaum, generous supporters who paid for her certification, acupuncture is a tool Lollypop Farm can use to combat everything from stress to infection to help the pets in our care get a second chance at a happy, healthy lives.