Ancient Arts Holistic Veterinary Services

Darla Rewers, DVM

110 N. 36th St. Seattle, WA 98103 phone: (206) 547-1025
Wednesday, February 02, 2011

                 It has been shown that petting a dog or cat lowers a human’s blood pressure after just minutes.  The sound of cats’ purring actually helps broken bones and other tissues to heal.  People who have animal companions tend to stay healthier and live longer, happier lives.  What can we do to return the favor for our furry or feathered animal friends?  Bond with them!  Pet them, feed them, spend play time and quiet time with them daily.  Help them groom, make sure medical needs are attended to, and reduce anxiety or stressors in the household. 

                 Common stressors that you might want to take into consideration include excessive noise or chaotic activity, unfamiliar people or animals, household dynamics between pets and people, and our own stress that we bring home.  If neighbor cats like to antagonize pets through windows, keep blinds shut or plant catnip out of view of the windows.  If there is a lot of excessive noise, find ambient down-tempo music to leave on to provide a buffer.  Learn to turn the television off, and the radio to a sensible level.  Remember their ears, noses, and sensitivities are much stronger than ours.  If there is a lot of dust or pollution outside, get air filters.  If there are arguments, whether real or on television, or other excessive noise from gatherings or stereos, be conscious of how the noise and frequencies of these things may affect delicate ears and psyches. 

                 Animals have amazingly keen perceptions.  They will often mirror for us what we have going on internally.  For example, if we are stressed, our dog or cat may be restless or agitated.  Take time to listen to your pet, both their vocalizations and what they are telling you through their body language.  Often an “annoying cat” (words I’ve often heard but would never use myself!) who sits on your paper that you’re trying to read, or gets under your feet all the time is trying to tell you, “Slow down!  Pet me!  You need to relax and I need some attention and affection!” 

Take time daily to connect at a heart level with each pet in your household.  Animals love to be around people when we are emanating love from our heart centers.  This means we have to let go of incessant mind chatter to focus on our hearts.  Ways to help us learn to do this is through meditation, qi gong, yoga, creating art, listening to positive music, and play time.  Notice what kinds of games your pets enjoy, and interact with them.  Some pets have never learned how to play because no one has taken the time to engage them in play.  Pets who have learned how to play and feel secure in a house will often create their own games.  This is wildly amusing.  I find that I have no need for a T.V. because my cat and dog entertain me endlessly!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011
     Whether you are moving, taking your pet to the vet or a friend’s house, or it is time to say good-bye, transitions are important landmarks. Dedicate time to communicate with your pet when anything out of the ordinary is going to happen. Take time to not be rushed or preoccupied with other things to just sit and BE alongside your companion animal. Breathe deeply. These are the single two most important things you can do to help them adjust to changes. Sit quietly and BE with them. Picture in your mind’s eye what is going to be happening. Do so in a positive, helpful way. For example, instead of picturing things while feeling tense and letting your mind wander and race off, carefully consider the images you hold in your mind as you spend time with your pet. They appreciate being informed of oncoming changes, and your awareness of those events and their reactions to them. There is ALWAYS something positive that can arise from any situation. So even if you are feeling unsure, hold in your mind and energy awareness that positive change is about to happen—even if you don’t know how!
      Animals are so sensitive, they already know what we are thinking before we even try to verbalize it to them. Also, if we say something to them and our energy is not in alignment with what we say, they recognize the discrepancy and act according to that which is most true or feared. In short, animals are more perceptive than we give them credit for, and we wonder why we don’t always commune in the way we want. Always reexamine congruency with thoughts, fears, hopes, actions, body language, actions, plans, etc. when communicating. People pick up on these things, too, except we have been conditioned to give other people the benefit of the doubt. Animals are much more authentic about pointing out inconsistencies. Listen and pay attention to the issues they bring up through their behavior, and you will likely deepen your awareness of attention, intention, communing/bonding, communication, and much more.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Have you ever received word from your veterinarian that “nothing else can be done for your pet?”  Is that an acceptable answer?  While a condition may be terminal, so is the condition of life!  Often an improvement or palliation can be provided through pain management and hospice care, if nothing else.    

Acupuncture, nutrition, herbs, and supportive TLC such as massage and reiki can add a tremendous amount of pain relief, inflammation control, nausea relief, improve attitude and appetite, strengthen the human-animal bond, and allow quality time for transitions to happen smoothly.  Severe conditions such as kidney failure and cancer are two common examples that come to mind.  Both are serious and can demand a lot of care and attention.  However, options such as acupuncture and herbs are simple ways of managing these patients’ well-being.  Muscle mass can improve on severely dehydrated and toxic patients.  Interest in food can appear again after a long hiatus.  The spark in the eye can return so that guardians and pets can connect before the final good-bye. 

When all other options seem to have been exhausted, give acupuncture a try.  The side effects are calming pain relief, improved blood and lymphatic (immune system fluid) flow, reduced muscle spasms, and sharpened cognitive function.  With a system of medicine that’s been tried and true for centuries, with safe, positive “side-effects,” how can you not try it for your pet before agreeing that “nothing else can be done?”

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

          Ever wonder what determines the requirements for vaccinations in your dog or cat?  Rabies is the only vaccine required by law, and not even in every state for cats.  Many kennels and clinics have a lot of recommendations or requirements in order to see or board your pet.  While these guidelines were created to protect those most at risk, and for liability reasons, new information is changing current vaccination guidelines. 

For example, after two vaccines for distemper and parvovirus (DA2P) in a pup, or feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukonia (FVRCP) in a kitten 3-4 weeks apart, boosters at one year of age should be given.  Then boosters should not be given any more frequently than once every three years. 

Physical exams every 6-12 months are still recommended, as are deworming and fecal screens depending on exposure.  Other vaccines are not considered core, or essential, except by risk.  Even in “at risk” patients, many of the non-core vaccines are not as effective as they may seem.  For example, dogs vaccinated for kennel cough or leptospirosis can still get those ailments. 

Since rabies vaccination is required by law, the label recommendations for a specific vaccine bottle must be followed.  Always request a 3 year labeled vaccine if possible.  In short, the list of possible adverse side effects from over-vaccination seems to be growing, such as itchy skin, behavior changes, chronic inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, autoimmune disorders, twitching of muscles, etc.  The good news is that research is ongoing to get approval for longer labeling on the rabies vaccine.  Check out www.rabieschallengefund.org     Here is a summary from the website:

            “The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust will determine the duration of immunity conveyed by rabies vaccines. The goal is to extend the required interval for rabies boosters to 5 and then to 7 years. This project depends primarily upon grassroots gifts for funding the costs of conducting the requisite vaccine trials. Our contributions to date have come mostly from kennel clubs and private individuals. The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust is a federally registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization [Fed. EIN # 84-6390682].”

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Winter and these cold months bring plenty of wind, cold and damp weather, three of the most insidious pathogens in traditional Chinese medicine responsible for arthritis.  This is true in our animal companions as well.  Joint pain and stiffness tend to flare up during the cold and wet months because these pathogens are prominent.  Getting outside less often contributes to the stiffness by allowing stagnation of qi, or energy, to occur.  Encouraging exercise, even when it’s raining outside, will help to circulate qi and get the blood moving.  But what if your pet is too painful to want to go out much in brooding weather?  Acupuncture and herbs can help!  

Gentler than anti-inflammatory drugs that can be hard on the liver and kidneys, Chinese herbal formulas and acupuncture actually tonify the entire body, including what traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) terms the “liver” and “kidneys.”  In TCM, the bones, joints and nervous tissue are all related to the “kidneys.”  Arthritis, musculoskeletal, and nervous conditions can all be treated by stimulating acupuncture points and selecting herbs that benefit the “kidneys.” According to TCM, the “liver” is responsible for the smooth flow of qi, to keep the body healthy and balanced.  Whenever there is stagnation of qi, pain or disease can result.  The “liver” can also be pacified through acupuncture and Chinese herbs to smooth out the flow of energy, reduce pain, and rebalance the body. 

Additionally, from an energetic perspective, the most commonly prescribed veterinary drugs for arthritis in pets are actually cooling to the system.  From a TCM standpoint, if there is wind, cold or damp making the joints painful or stiff, adding a cooling medication is contraindicated.  Anti-inflammatory medications are also not recommended in patients with kidney or liver insufficiency, common in elderly cats and dogs.  So if your pet is having mobility difficulties, there is no reason to settle for drugs that may not help, or which could be detrimental to your pet—acupuncture and herbal medicine provide safe alternative options for comfort.  

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

            Long known in traditional Chinese medicine as the “shen,” the mind is recognized as very important to keep healthy.  The shen is said to bed down in the heart at night, and to appear through the eyes as consciousness.  In allopathic medicine, anxiety is associated with increased cortisol, or stess hormones, and decreases in serotonin, the “feel-good” or calming hormone.  Acupuncture actually increases serotonin, as well as the body’s natural pain- killers, endorphins and enkephalins.  Acupuncture also decreases cortisol, inflammatory mediators, improves blood flow, decreases muscle spasms, and improves immune function.  All these actions can have an effect on anxiety, stress, and pain.  Safer and with fewer risks or side effects than prescription drugs, acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbs can be a wonderful adjunct to helping relieve anxiety in pets.

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