When a female hound named Rhone underwent acupuncture under the capable hands of Dr. Lisa Jutras at the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County, it wasn’t quite the reaction anyone expected.
Rhone promptly lay down and dozed off to sleep.
It was a similar reaction with a Labrador retriever named Baron who was born with severe hip problems. After carefully placing the needles in his back, the 6-year-old Baron was acting like a puppy, free from the pain that has afflicted him for years.
Jutras is offering free acupuncture demonstrations again on Thursday, Jan. 27 at noon at the Humane Society. The workshop is designed as a way for pet owners to learn about alternative medicine techniques for their cats and dogs.
“Many of us want to know how both to extend our animals lives, as well as provide quality of life, so that the time we share together is meaningful and rich,” said Humane Society Education Director Janet Winikoff. “By exploring various avenues of care, we can do everything possible to help both our animals at home and at the shelter.”
Jutras, who practices at St. Francis Animal Hospital in Vero Beach, said many pet owners are looking for alternative ways to deal with arthritis, seizures and even skin problems. And more and more veterinarians are mixing traditional Western medicine with Eastern and homeopathic remedies to meet those needs.
“I want to let people know about what acupuncture is for animals and how it can help,” said Jutras, who will use a live animal in her demonstration. “It seems to work best with pets that have orthopedic pain, along with pets that suffer with chronic diseases.”
Jutras is a relative newcomer to the field of acupuncture, receiving her certification in 2008. She trained at the Chi Institute in Reddick, Fla., which offers programs in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine or TCVM. Colorado State University, Tufts University and the University of Florida offer acupuncture courses to students training to become veterinarians.
For most pets, a typical acupuncture session involves 20 to 30 dry needles, left in for about 20 minutes, Jutras said. Animals benefit the most between 24 and 48 hours after acupuncture, which is typically done once or twice a week. Costs range from $40 to $200 a session, depending on the extensiveness of the treatment. Effects can last from a few days to several months.
“After being in practice for awhile, you experience frustration with what you can do for animals with traditional western medicine,” said Jutras.
“Alternative medicine techniques provide something else you can offer your clients if Western medicine doesn’t work. As long as it’s not bad for the animal or cause injury, I’m for it.”