Acupuncture for pets

September 3, 2008 7:41:05 AM PDT
If you have a skittish dog or cat, you may want to consider acupuncture to treat their frayed nerves.Veterinarians say the ancient Chinese therapy works on animals the same way it does on people. Sometimes it's used with conventional treatments. Other times, acupuncture alone can do the trick.

Every day, it's a battle of wills to get Niko to go for a walk.

She's a rescue dog from a Kentucky puppy mill and doesn't like the sounds of city life on the Lower East Side.

"Truck noise, anything on wheels, skateboarders," owner Donna Binder said. "And in our neighborhood, that's a huge thing."

Niko was just recently adopted by the Binders. To try to calm her nerves, they turned to Dr. Jeffrey Levy, a veterinarian who makes house calls.

He practices conventional pet medicine, but also believes in alternative treatments like acupuncture.

In humans and animals alike, the therapy is said to work by manipulating the body's energy flow.

"In those patients we may not want to use medication to sedate the system, or we don't have the ability to train correctly whether it be anxiety or separation anxieties, acupuncture may redirect the bodies energy to more or less heal itself," Dr. Levy said.

Niko has had four treatments. After the third, Binder took her to a dog run and noticed a change.

"Her tail went up, she started to look for other dogs to play with," Binder said. "She actually seemed happy."

Dr. Levy also treats 6-year-old Clementine, who has back, hip and knee problems. Owner Joan Gralla says acupuncture has helped to get the bulldog back on her feet.

"It's so wonderful to see her play with other dogs in Central Park," Gralla said. "They're chasing after a ball, and her legs don't slide from under her."

Dr. Levy cautions that acupuncture doesn't work on all animals. But for those it does help, the therapy can once again bring out their playful side.

Acupuncture on animals is typically done on dogs, cats and horses. Dr. Levy says pet owners should do at least four sessions before they decide whether or not it's worth continuing the treatment.

For more information, visit Dr. Levy's Web site at


STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Tim Fleischer


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