Acupuncture, for pets
For some animals, Dr. Bruce Towne’s treatments are the solution
GOWRIE — Chloe, an 8-year-old blue-gray pitbull, has some health issues that trace back to years she spent in a kennel before she was rescued by her new human, Judy Schrad, of Lake City.
“She has some hip problems, arthritis and allergies,” Schrad said.
To help treat the four-legged friend Schrad affectionately calls her a “house hippo,” Chloe is under the care of Dr. Bruce Towne at Towne Veterinary Clinic in Gowrie.
Towne is using veterinary acupuncture to treat her.
He has been performing acupuncture since 2016 when he went through an extensive training course to learn the Eastern art.
He first became interested when he had some cases that didn’t respond to conventional Western medical treatment.
“You run into cases that don’t respond,” he said. “Acupuncture is considered another tool in your toolbox.”
Towne said the theory of acupuncture has to do with energy flow.
“That energy needs to flow,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is maintain that flow.”
Most people are probably familiar with the basic technique of acupuncture. Sterile needles are inserted at various points on the body to stimulate the energy flow in those areas. During Chloe’s treatment, Towne first inserted two needles at points on her head. One almost between her eyes, the other further back. Those are sedative points that help the animal relax.
Chloe takes her treatment in stride. After Towne inserted the rest of the needles, she laid down on floor.
“It just makes her sleepy,” Schrad said. “It just mellows her out. She falls asleep in the car on the way home.”
There is more to the practice of acupuncture than using needles on acupoints to get energy flowing again. The practice also includes herbal medicine, food therapy and Tui-na, a form of medical manipulation somewhat similar to chiropractic care.
Schrad listened to Towne’s recommendations and changed Chloe’s diet.
“He’s helped guide us to the proper foods,” she said. “I thought I was feeding her good food. I was actually adding to the problems.”
Towne also looks for other signs of good health in his canine and feline acupuncture patients that indicate to him if something is off.
The color of an animal’s gums and tongue, nose moisture and several other signs indicate health issues when he’s examining an animal.
Towne understands that some of his patients’ humans might be a bit skeptical of the practice.
“I was skeptical when I took the training,” Towne said. “It builds on a theory. I didn’t plan on doing it this way. That’s the way it worked out, though.”
His farm clients were especially skeptical, but many of them have come to accept acupuncture treatment methods for their livestock. Especially those who wish to supply their market with antibiotic meat.
“I can treat without antibiotics with acupuncture,” he said. “Acupuncture and herbal.”
He said that acupuncture can take a bit longer to work than some conventional treatments. It’s also not a suitable treatment for every condition and malady.
“It’s highly suited for arthritis and old chronic conditions,” Towne said.
Many of his patients bring their humans back to get ongoing treatment.
“The animals accept it well,” he said. “Most people, after the first time, are surprised and want to have it again.”