Retired Connecticut veterinarian back in the game with acupuncture therapy for pets
BRANFORD >> When Legacée, a Doberman Pinscher, feels anxious, she stops eating.
The issue was especially vexing last fall after the dog whelped her first litter, owner Lynn Roberts said.
Dobermans are an extremely intuitive breed, said the Kyoti Doberman breeder and nationally-ranked American Kennel Club owner-handler.
“When I get stressed, she gets stressed,” Roberts said of Legacée, ranked No. 9 nationally in 2015 with distinction as best in specialty show and grand champion.
The pair recently competed in the Westminster Kennel Club show.
“No ribbons, but great fun,” said Roberts, a longtime Clinton resident.
But as she was anxious, Legacée was not a “particularly good mom” at first, not uncommon for a dog with a first-time litter, according to veterinarian Kenton Moore of Clinton. The dog’s fear and lack of appetite caused secondary problems, including pancreatitis, said Moore.
The solution for Legacée was regular acupuncture sessions, using needles and cold laser therapy “to move energy,” Moore said.
Alternative practitioners have used acupuncture for thousands of years to restore proper energy flow, contending that the interruption of chi “leads sickness and problems,” said Moore, who started the Clinton Veterinary Hospital from which he retired after a 42-year career.
Immediately after retiring, Moore sought a way “to get back in the game,” and reached out to Dr. Deborah Yarrow, founder of Mill Pond Veterinary Hospital. Yarrow in the past often had referred patients for acupuncture therapy, a rare but not uncommon speciality on the Shoreline, Moore said.
Acupuncture commonly is used for pain relief or musculoskeletal problems, including arthritis and disc problems, according to Moore, who treats 12-15 animals per week — mostly dogs, an occasional cat and a rare wild bird for a local rehabilitator.
While treating big dogs at the clinic, Moore offers them a space to lie comfortably. There is a small learning curve to the process, he said.
Moore recognizes an animal’s surprise the first time a needle is inserted, he said. Usually, by the second or third session, the dogs fall asleep during the session, he added.
Aside from very thin needles placed in specific “meridian points” to stimulate the flow of energy, other methods include the application of digital pressure, heat, ice, or creating a vacuum, such as cupping therapy to create suction, Moore said.
Often used in conjunction with drug and/or other therapies, Moore found success at home to more effectively manage his dog’s epilepsy with acupuncture, he said.
More often than not, epilepsy is controlled with medication, but acupuncture helped Moore to control the frequency and severity of seizures, he said.
Medications often can cause digestive, liver or other problems that can compromise a pet’s health, while acupuncture provides another option when traditional approaches may fall short, Moore said.
“It’s gratifying for me to have owners tell me that their pet is jumping out of the car now” when they arrive for a session,” said Moore. “They are excited to come in and see me; they look forward to it.”
While the initial session is slightly more costly, about $75 to $100, the 45-minute maintenance sessions can be purchased individually or in multiples, which can cut the cost to about $50 to 60 per session.
Moore estimates that 60 percent to 70 percent of his patients are improved and helped to some degree, he said. With animals, a “true response” is seen and not “a placebo effect” sometimes witnessed in humans, he added.
Many pet owners today want immediate results; just take a pill and make it go away, said Moore, adding that patience is sometimes required for acupuncture to resolve issues.
“It’s a special client who is interested in this service,” he added.