We spoke with veterinary acupuncturist Carolin Power to find out why so many animal owners are opting for acupuncture to treat their pets.
How did you get involved in acupuncture for animals?
After working as a vet in General Practice, Emergency and Critical Care specialist hospitals in Perth and the UK for many years, I decided I wanted to learn about acupuncture for pets and completed my postgraduate training to offer people a more natural and complete option for their pets’ needs. I’ve found through my clinic AcuVet that Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine can help pets recover from disease, surgical procedures and help with pain management.
I was always drawn to the holistic side of health and had found acupuncture very helpful in treating a gastrointestinal condition. I remember noticing things in my body start changing that I didn’t even seek the treatment for, and I wanted to offer those same benefits to pets. I quickly learned the same theory and philosophy applies when treating both animals and humans with acupuncture – it’s just the anatomy and acupuncture points that are different.
What does a consultation typically involve?
I complete a full examination of the animal using both a western medicine and traditional Chinese veterinary medicine approach to identify any concerns and then I use the appropriate complementary treatment. This can include acupuncture, tui na, herbal medicine, food therapy and exercise.
What is your area of specialty?
My main interest is treating internal medicine, which includes gastrointestinal disease, immunodeficiency disorders, cardiovascular disease, dermatological disorders just to name a few, and I mainly treat dogs, and the occasional cat. No two days are the same though – I once treated a budgie with a fatty liver!
I’ve got to the point where I can read an animal very well and quickly get an understanding on their demeanour. Some animals don’t make a fuss at all and some are very sensitive. Knock on wood but to date I haven’t been bitten by an animal during treatment. I find it so rewarding – I love changing an animal’s life with just a few needles.
What do you need to be careful of when treating animals this way?
Sometimes animals will shake when they’re nervous so I have to be careful when applying the needles. Others can try to bite the needles when they are put in, so caution needs to be applied.
What type of results have you seen in your clients?
Acupuncture helps restore the internal balance of animals. They tend to sleep really well after a treatment – even the most excitable dog will settle down and sometimes go to sleep once the treatment finishes. Once I treated a corgi who had a liver shunt. The dog was very sick and wasn’t expected to live long. I treated him with acupuncture and noticed improvements quickly, and was able to bring his liver enzyme levels back into a normal range.
Do you have any quirky client stories to share with us?
My little friend Hugo the miniature dachshund is an interesting one – he’s a gorgeous dog with a rapidly growing social media presence. His Instagram account @hugodach has thousands of followers and it’s increasing all the time. I’ve treated Hugo for a shoulder complaint following a nasty collision with a bigger dog at the park and he’s adorable. It’s surreal to have a celebrity dog as a client!
What’s next for you?
After seeing how acupuncture can improve the quality of life for animals I decided to enrol in an acupuncture degree with Endeavour a few years ago to take my career to the next level by starting to treat people as well. So far it has not only given me a great foundational knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it has helped me become a better veterinary acupuncturist too. When I complete my degree I plan to launch a clinic that treats both animals and people.
What would surprise people about acupuncture for animals?
I actually teach in China every year to raise awareness of the value of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. Many people are surprised to know it’s actually Western countries that are pushing the field forward. The Australian Veterinarian Association (AVA) has a special acupuncture group, and to become an animal acupuncturist you have to be a certified vet first. We’re working hard for industry certification and recognition as a specialist area.