Hoppy: A Happy Testimonial

January 21, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Hoppy - acupuncture caseHoppy my 12 year old(at the time) long hair Chihuahua, couldn’t stand or walk. Happened all of a sudden in the night. Looked like she wasn’t going to make it. Went to the emergency vet, they wanted to do a $4000 surgery with low hopes of her even living through it. Dr Dan did acupuncture and she was able to stand the next morning! Within a week she was pretty steady on her feet. A few more treatments and she was back to normal. Hoppy turned 15 last October and is doing great. She still runs around like a puppy thanks to Dr Dan. People can’t believe she is over 15.

I also have a standard Xolo with epilepsy. They are hyper and don’t calm down until about 3 years old, but Dr Dan was able to adjust his neck to stop the seizures. His name is Monty and he about to turn 6- seizure free for years! Thanks Dr Dan! We Love You!

Nikki Kennedy


Thank you Nikki!

I appreciate the great stories about acupuncture and chiropractic. Hoppy is one of my miracle stories that I am very happy to have had this experieince with her. It was amazing to see a dog flat on her side unable to even sit up to, in a matter of 3 weeks, able to walk and now able to run and play.


Urinary Incontinence: A weak bladder sphincter problem

October 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

thpeeing_dogA dog that has a wet bed in the morning, a dog that dribbles urine throughout the day, a dog that seems to just stand up and then pee uncontrollably, or a dog that is licking itself continuously can all have the problem of urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is a weakening of the sphincter that controls the emptying of the bladder, most commonly affecting females.

There is a lot to urinary incontinence and there is quite a bit that we do not fully understand about it but I am going to go over the most common issues and keep it simple. The first issue to contend with if you have a dog with a leaky bladder is be sure your pup does not have a urinary tract infection because this an cause inflammation in the entire urinary tract including the sphincter and your dog just is not going to be able to control itself. The best course of action when you first notice a leaking problem is to bring your dog to the vet for evaluation for blood tests and a urinalysis. If your dog has kidney issues, hormonal issues, or a urinary tract infection the cause of the leaking is secondary and treating the primary problem of the underlying disease should resolve the leaking issue.

Now if your dog does not have any illness found then it is most likely that yes your dog has a weakened bladder sphincter causing the urinary incontinence. To keep it simple there is two major reasons why your dog has a weakened muscle – neurologic or hormonal. If the nerve pathways are not optimal then your dog leaks because there is no or low nerve stimulation to the muscle. If the dog has been neutered, more likely if it has been neutered early in life, there has been a lack of hormones, which weakens the muscles in and around the genital area and specifically the bladder sphincter.

Traditional medicine typically uses two different types of drugs to correct this problem and there is a new surgical treatment available in some cases. The first drug is actually hormone replacement therapy using diethylstilbestrol (DES) in female dogs. It is used at low doses to try and avoid the side effects of the drug. Holistic practitioners have long been concerned with the use of this drug and its potential long term effects on the hormonal system and its possibility of causing certain types of cancer.  The other drug commonly used for urinary incontinence and this is used in female and male dogs is phenylpropanolamine (PPA). This drug is used to help stimulate the nervous system and increase tone in the bladder sphincter. This drug has many side effects although most are manageable or minor that they go unnoticed. It can have more side effects with drug interactions of commonly used drugs such as NSAIDs, some tick preventatives, and other drugs. It can cause anxiety in pets because it does stimulate a fight or flight response due to its effect on the nervous system. It also causes an increase in blood pressure for the first few weeks of using the drug so dogs with heart conditions should avoid using PPA. Many times vets will use both drugs together if they are not getting a response from either one and have some success with their use together, which usually indicates multiple system problems with urinary incontinence.

Alternative treatments focus on the same simple principles of either nervous system malfunction or hormonal system malfunction. The most common treatments I use are chiropractic, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and food supplements.

Chiropractic treatments usually focus on subluxations (joint dysfunction) at the Lumbosacral joint and/or the SI joints. Adjustments usually are needed at L6, L7, and Sacrum. I have had great success over the years with just chiropractic alone most of my patients will have to have return visits monthly to every other month to maintain urinary control.

Most of the time I will also place the pet on a nutritional supplement such as Symplex M (males) or Symplex F (females) from Standard Process. These are formulated from compounds extracted from glandulars. There are other products, which are direct glandular products that some holistic vets use instead of DES to lessen the risks associated with DES.

Many times I see immediate results using the chiropractic and the Standard Process supplements but if I see no results within 2-4 weeks then I will suggest adding acupuncture and/or Chinese herbs to see if we can stimulate the bladder sphincter to function better. Most chronic urinary incontinence is a Qi deficiency in Traditional Chinese Medicine and more specifically a Kidney Qi Deficiency so I choose points to help strengthen Qi. In western medical acupuncture terms, we try to stimulate the nervous system for the reproductive area of the body, similar points are used in both types of acupuncture. Common points used are BL22, BL23, BL26, ST36 and CV1

If all else fails there is a surgical treatment that is being tried. It is fairly new to use in dogs and has some success. Under anesthesia collagen is injected around the urethral opening causing a mechanical blockage, which then allows the dog to hold its urine easier. Some of these dogs still need to take PPA and many of them have to have the procedure repeated. Definitely not a first line of correction but when it means the life vs death because of urine leakage it is worth trying to find a vet to do the procedure.

There is a lot we do not understand about urinary incontinence. We do not know the true cause and why some treatments work for some dogs and not for others, but there are many treatments and hopefully if you have a dog with urinary incontinence, you can find one that works for your dog.

Alternatives to NSAIDs: Rimadyl, Previcox, Metacam, Deramaxx, etc

July 28, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

I am asked almost daily about alternatives to using NonSteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like Rimadyl, Previcox, Metacam, Deramaxx. People are afraid to use these drugs because of their possible side effects. The most common side effects include digestive upset (vomiting/diarrhea), stomach ulcers, and liver disease. One of the worst possible side effects is death caused by these drugs. Never thought death could be a side effect of a medicine that was supposed to help your dog feel better but it can happen…luckily VERY RARELY!

This article is not to bash NSAIDs because, to be honest, it still is one of my most prescribed drugs. Why? Because they work! Dogs with acute injuries may require a controlling of inflammation and so for a short duration will need to be on an anti-inflammatory. These products work well and on most occasions are safe for short term use. A dog at the end of its life may have aches and pains that prevent it from having a good quality of life, a daily NSAID may be just the answer to provide that quality of life.

Even if your dog has to take one of these products there are some other products that can be of assistance in reducing the side effects. A couple of products S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and Milk Thistle have been known to help prevent the liver toxicity of NSAIDs. Aloe Vera can help reduce the chance of ulcers with NSAIDs.

However there are alternatives to NSAIDs that do not have the side effects –

Herbals and Nutraceuticals – Many of my older patients are already taking some form of nutraceutical for joint health in the form of glucosamine and /or chondroitin sulfate. There are other products which can help with inflammation similar to that of NSAIDs such Boswelia, Curcumin (Tumeric), Bromelain, and Devil’s Claw are the most common. Using plant enzymes an hour before or after a meal so that they are absorbed and not used to digest that meal have an anti-inflammatory effect. Even Omega 3s and 6s found in fish oil and krill oil have a good anti-inflammatory effect. I usually have a dog start on products such as these before going to an NSAID they may not be as potent as an NSAID but they also do not have the side effects either.

Acupuncture – This is a favorite of mine and helps many dogs with pain. It is a little time consuming and can be more expensive but it does help. Using acupuncture and Chinese Herbals together can really help out a dog so that it does not need NSAIDs or even my severely painful dogs that acupuncture and herbals can get them off steroids and Tramadol!

Pulsed Electromagnetic Therapy (PEMF) – This is a machine that uses an electric current to make a magnetic field which increases the blood circulation and reduces the inflammation of the area of the body that has inflammation. It works great for animals that have a specific area of inflammation that needs to be treated. It also has little to no side effects. I am starting to use a small portable take home PEMF device from Assisi for a variety of patients, especially for the pets that can not tolerate acupuncture.

Laser Therapy – Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is the use of light emitted by a laser machine to effect tissue. It increases circulation, reduces inflammation and produces an anti-inflammatory effect. It is painless so it really works well for the dogs that are painful and can not tolerate acupuncture. It does take several treatments and would require a couple trips to the veterinarian each week for a few weeks, depending on what is being treated. It works well for muscle pain and inflammation from arthritis and works exceptionally well on wounds.

From herbals and nutraceuticals to historically used acupuncture to the latest and greatest Laser therapy or PEMF or to even just using NSAIDs with some supportive help of other products, the answer to your dogs pain can be found. There are many alternatives to NSAIDs you just need to know they are available and use the one that works best for you and your pet.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine: TCVM a different approach to disease

November 14, 2012 by · 3 Comments 

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) is a medical system that has been used in China for thousands of years. In the US it has been used to treat animals since the 1970′s. Today acupuncture (one part of TCVM) has shown to be an effective treatment for many diseases both acute and chronic and really has shown to be very effective in treating pain and neurologic conditions thus making it a main stream treatment. TCVM includes using acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Tui Na (Chinese massage) and food therapy to treat the body to promote the body to heal itself.

Veterinarians can learn acupuncture and other TCVM modalities at one of the veterinary schools that offer programs –  Colorado State University, Tufts University or the University of Florida; or they can take a certification course offered by IVAS or the Chi Institute. The Chi Institute offers the most comprehensive programs for TCVM including all of the modalities and advanced courses up to and including a Masters Degree in TCVM offered in conjunction with South China Agricultural University. For this reason I choose the Chi Institute for my certification. I have considered pursuing the Master Degree program.

TCVM has changed considerably since its inception in China back when it was primarily used to treat horses and farm animals. Today it is used for those animals and also dogs, cats, and birds. Much has been learned about acupuncture and TCVM through the study and treatments of these companion animals. Here in the US TCVM is used many times, as it is in my practice, in conjunction with other treatments such as chiropractic, western herbs, nutritional supplementation and rehabilitation therapies (laser, electrical stimulation, and exercise). It is exciting to be part of a medical field that although has been around for 3000-4000 years is changing and expanding due to scientific advances and research and more owners being accepting of the treatments. I look forward to many years of treating my patients with TCVM.

The basic premise of TCVM is rebalancing the body to allow it to heal itself. A diseased body becomes out of balance. In TCVM some of the cause of disease is because the body is out of balance and in other cases the body becomes out of balance by an external force, such as a traumatic accident. In either case TCVM can be used hand in hand with western allopathic medicine to help the body recover from disease or trauma. They come from the disease from opposite aspects and can meet in the middle due to a common cause – to heal the patient. Western medicine is great at treating acute problems TCVM is great at treating chronic problems that western medicine has difficulty in curing. TCVM has little to no side effects. Western medicine is far superior in diagnosing due to the technological advances. An integrative approach works wonderfully for the patient because you can get the best of both worlds with superior diagnostics and treatment that has less side effects. Treatment that can approach a disease from both aspects that of treating the disease and that of helping the body heal.

One of my first cases in using TCVM was Bear – Canine Case of the Week: Bear and Cervical IVDD I hope I have many more successful cases such as Bear. He is still a patient and is doing well.

Canine Case of the Week: Bear and Cervical IVDD

August 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Canine Case of the Week is Bear a special dog with Intervertebral Disk Disease in the cervical spine. What makes Bear special is that he is also a cancer patient, OK he is a good dog too! Bear is one of my lucky patients that has been able to take advantage of the new information about acupuncture I have learned from the Chi Institute in my process to acupuncture certification.

Bear - Cervical IVDD case Bear is a 10 year old neutered male black Lab. He was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma of the jaw in December 2010. The tumor was wrapped around his lower canine and it bled every time he ate. When it was discovered that it was cancer Bear underwent surgery to have the front third of his lower jaw removed. He recovered fine from the surgery and no longer had bleeding every time he ate.

Shortly after his jaw surgery he started limping on his left front leg. Of course thinking the worse his owner brought him right away to a specialist and discovered that no the cancer had not spread but actually Bear had a strained tendon in his elbow. The specialist injected the elbow with corticosteroid and the limping improved. Unfortunately he developed a neck problem 2 weeks afterwards.

Bear has had issues with his neck for a long time. He would be stiff and a little painful to the touch. His owner would give him aspirin and in a day he would bounce back, however this time was different. He did not bounce back and in fact became worse. He could not turn his head to the left without being in pain. Back to the vet Bear went. His cervical spine was radiographed and luckily no signs of cancer, but also no significant findings for a problem relating to his pain in the neck. He was diagnosed with Cervical Intervertebral Disk Disease or Cervical IVDD. An MRI could be done to confirm the diagnosis but with the expense, the fact that an MRI may not be as reliable as once thought for diagnosis of IVDD, the fact that Bear has gone through a lot already and most important the owner was not wishing to put Bear through another surgery and only wants him comfortable for how ever many months she has left with Bear, an MRI was not performed and Bear was given typical conservative pain management pharmaceuticals – muscle relaxers and pain relievers. He did this for a couple of months. It did not help enough and in May it became much worse. He could not raise his head comfortably and he was placed on more pain relievers. In June when nothing else seemed to be helping Bear’s owner called me.

My first visit Bear was mildy depressed but still happy to visit. He could not raise his head very well, looked uncomfortable and certainly could not turn his head left. He was not sleeping well at night. He was very painful when touching his neck or trying to move his head. I spent time massaging and doing chiropractic adjustments to help relieve some of his tension and pain. I also prescribed Gabapentin for the neuropathic pain since none of the pain relievers he was on were seeming to help.

A week later I revisited and readjusted. He was improved. His pain was mostly gone but he still could not turn his head to the left.

The next week I revisited again and now he could turn his head about 50% to the left and still no pain. I adjusted him again and was happy with the progress. However Bear had other plans with his new found reduction in pain.

The problem with giving a dog pain relievers, or doing modalities such as chiropractic or acupuncture is that they do relieve pain. The problem with relieving pain is that the area is still healing and can take 12 weeks to heal completely, but since there is no pain the dog will use the area like there is nothing wrong. If the dog feels better and does something it should not it can re-injure the area and start the whole cascade of events all over. That’s what Bear did!

He was happy feeling better and became excited one day. The owner knew that she needed to keep him calm and not do any activity with him, but Bear had other ideas and decide to play hard for a couple minutes and re-injured himself. When I saw him we were back to square one! He was in pain again and could not turn his head at all. We started over. I massaged and adjusted him and and was coming back the next week, after my trip to the Chi Institute.

Monday, after my course work at the Chi Institute I visited Bear He was out of pain but still could not move his head to the left. I had some small needles that I usually use for horse legs. I did some acupuncture for Bear’s neck and I have a laser machine and lasered a few acupuncture points as well. The treatment lasted about 20 min. After the treatment was over, Bear got up shook all over and whined at the door. He went out, went to the bathroom, came back in and went right for his toy box. The owner and I were quick to tell him – OH NO. She told him to go lay down. The owner and I could tell he was feeling very spunky and wanted to play. He felt very good. So I went onto my soapbox and told her how he needed to rest and definitely needed to be confined and not allowed to play. The problem with acupuncture is that they feel too good and can re-injure themselves. All the while I was talking (preaching) Bear was laying with his right side against a wall, obviously upset that he was told he could not play, and at one point the owner and I looked at him and he looked back at us. It only took a couple seconds for it to register that he was turning his head to the left to look straight back at us!

Here was a dog that had for months not been able to turn his head to the left and I thought I had made some big progress with the chiropractic treatments to get him to turn his head 50% of the way and now he was turning his head like nothing was ever wrong. He had no pain and had full range of motion from one 20 min treatment of acupuncture.

Today I visited Bear and he is almost completely normal. He is off all the medications except for the Gabapentin which he has started weaning off. He has a little limp in his left front leg but his neck shows no sign of pain and has about 90% range of motion. I treated him with electroacupuncture today and will visit him again in two weeks.

I have a new found respect for acupuncture and will be incorporating it more and more in my treatment protocols. I will be suggesting it to clients more frequently and eventually I can see that my practice will be a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine practice using herbs and acupuncture with some chiropractic and physical therapy added. Thank you Bear for the excellent results that were way beyond my expectations. With more treatments I am hoping to help him with his elbow pain and extend his life comfortably despite living with an aggressive cancer.