With National Senior Pet Month upon us we thought it would be a great time to reveal how we can help our beloved senior pets age with comfort and happiness. Though during our annual wellness exams, we often discuss regular screening bloodwork to stay ahead of common old age diseases, pain management for arthritis and joint supplements, etc, – a new way Central Vet is here to help is by recently adding acupuncture to our list of services!

2 years ago, I began training at Chi University in Florida under Dr. Xie. Just like a lot of people, I was a little skeptical of the Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) views too, however the more I learned about how the body being out of balance could be at the root of a lot of our pets’ problems, the more I was on board. The patterns discussed in TCVM make a lot of sense for many of my patients. In addition, in the last 20 years or so since this practice has crossed the ocean, scientific studies have provided statistically significant results in both human and veterinary medicine. In fact, the acupoints that we place needles in have been proven to have higher electrical conductivity and higher numbers of white blood cells than other locations on the body. So, whether you call it the flow of chi or electrical current, acupuncture can be used to stimulate these points to help balance and heal the body. The best thing about Integrative Medicine (which includes Traditional Chinese Medicine) is that it is very safe and does not include the side effects seen with Western Medicine treatments. Now, acupuncture is not a replacement for Western Medicine treatments in all cases, but rather we tend to use it in combination to improve our patient outcomes. 

But now, back to the seniors! These are the pets we see the most imbalance in, however they are also the patients we see the most improvement in! The most common problem I see in senior pets is a Kidney Yin deficiency. What does this mean you may ask. Kidney Yin deficiency is actually arthritis! Kidney is the name we give to a meridian that controls the kidney and bladder, this meridian also controls the bones and spinal cord too. Each point along the meridian has a local effect to that area of the body, but also a systemic effect depending on the point. Yin deficiency is an imbalance in the bodies heating/cooling system. Often those pets who seek out the coldest spot on hard flooring near a window/vent, yet could benefit from a soft bed to lie on for their sore joints, have a Yin deficiency (or loss of regulation of their bodies air conditioning system). This must balance with the – you guessed it – Yang – the bodies warming system. Yin deficient animals may have a red, dry tongue, dry skin, and may be irritable due to too much heat or pain caused by a stagnation of flow in these meridians. Acupuncture improves the flow, reduces pain, and can clear heat to help them feel better. We at times will also use our laser to help with inflammation and pain during the acupuncture appointment. 

Another area we might see some issues with our senior pet’s health, is their mental health. They may not see or hear as well, and this often leads to anxiety! At this age they may also begin to show signs of dementia such as staring at the wall or going outside to use the bathroom – forgetting why they went outside – then having an accident in the house shortly after. Some senior pets also become anxious when left alone, even if they didn’t in the past. When a pet is acting this way, we call it Shen Disturbance. We can help calm the “Shen” (the mind), while rebalancing the body with all the other issues. Issues this can help with include reducing cataract induced inflammation, improving their hearing, and allowing them to get regular sleep at night. We have also had great success with providing Chinese herbal remedies to assist with anxiety reduction. 

Aside from these two common senior pet issues, with Integrative Medicine we can address things like cancer, kidney disease, incontinence, weak hind limbs, muscle wasting and appetite issues – all in conjunction with their prescribed regular Western Medicine treatment. 

There is nothing that brings me more happiness than to hear that after the first treatment a pet owner has seen an improvement in their pet’s comfort, and that they seem more themselves than they have in a long time! Even though we sometimes cannot get a pet back to 100% when they have advanced arthritis, we can often work to ensure they have energy, are comfortable, have good quality of life and are able to enjoy their days.

To learn more about booking a Integrative Medicine appointment with Dr. Bjornson contact us by calling or texting 204-275-2038 or by emailing info@centralvet.ca

Written by Dr. Heidi Bjornson

 Learn more about Dr. Heidi Bjornson here.