Breckenridge: Pet accupuncture gaining popularity |

Breckenridge: Pet accupuncture gaining popularity

Leslie Brefeld
Summit County correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado
Eric Drummond/Summit DailyDr. Christine Murphy put needles into Nika, a 14-year-old golden retriever who lives in Breckenridge and Arizona, at the Breckenridge Animal Clinic recently. Her owner Greg Friedman, sitting in back, said he has seen some improvement in Nika's incontinence problems and weakness in her hindquarters after her first two sessions of acupuncture.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” For Dr. Christine Murphy at the Breckenridge Animal Clinic, it was an experience with one of her own dogs that drew her to include acupuncture treatments in her practice.

Murphy recalled that about 10 years ago she noticed a twitch in her old dog Luke’s face. There was no explanation for the facial nerve spasm, even with an MRI.

She eventually took him to Denver to try acupuncture and within six weeks of weekly sessions, the spasm was calmed completely.

Vail Valley veterinarian Nadine Lober learned about the alternative treatment through dealing with her own personal health.

“I had a very bad back with a degenerative disc. I was ready for surgeons to cut me, I was in so much pain,” Lober said. Six months into her investigation of the problem, acupuncture was suggested.

“After the first three visits, there was 50 percent less pain,” she said.

Dr. Dennis R. Linemeyer in Leadville took the cue from clients who were asking about alternative treatments.

Each of these regional veterinarians who utilize acupuncture in their practice describe it as another way of treating the problem, whatever that problem might be.

“Most of the time, acupuncture is pretty good for pain,” Linemeyer said.

Arthritis, soreness from injury, or weakness in an area are all common issues that are addressed with acupuncture.

Murphy described these as “management cases” with treatments over time.

Although the healing modality originates from Traditional Chinese Medicine, both Murphy and Linemeyer take a Western approach to the treatment where small needles are inserted into certain points of the body.

“There are two major ways you can approach acupuncture ” Chinese diagnostic or neuromuscular,” Murphy said. “Since I have a Western background, I went with neuromuscular.”

Murphy, who along with Linemeyer took courses for pet acupuncture at Colorado State University, said the Western style looks at the dog’s anatomy and where nerve chords are.

Lober has received training in both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine forms of acupuncture.

“I like to do both,” she said. “I check tongue color and consistency and check pulses … I also look at the Western approach. What are the symptoms ” he doesn’t sleep through the night, can’t walk upstairs … Then I combine these together to determine what points to use.”

Unlike medications, acupuncture has no side effects, and all three veterinarians have found the treatments at least worth trying.

“The first thing people notice overall is the dog has more energy and is happier,” Lober said. “For the first time in months there’s a release of pain.”

At the Breckenridge Animal Clinic they take it another step by offering chiropractic adjustments. Dr. Ed Hastain was trained by seminar to perform veterinary orthopedic manipulation eight years ago. He said he was looking for something other than drugs to treat dogs with neck pain.

“I don’t promote it as a cure for every disease. I do it for dogs with issues with their spine,” he said. “Sometimes it works wonders and sometimes it doesn’t do a thing.”

A session of acupuncture at the Breck clinic is $100 for the first visit, and $50 for subsequent visits.

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