Forty percent of Americans have tried holistic therapies, and 60 percent of U.S. households have at least one pet. It’s no surprise, then, that those same people are increasingly turning to energy healing and other holistic therapies to help their furry friends.
The goal of energy healing is to rebalance the life force or biofield of the individual in need of healing. Energy healing, as a “holistic” modality for canines, sees the dog’s health from the perspective of the “whole being” of the dog—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The following energetic therapies use different methods to help shift the dog’s “whole being” back into a state of energetic balance, which in turn often results in an improvement and/or resolution of symptoms/disease.
Cynthia Juday, DVM, CVA, an integrative veterinarian who uses both conventional and holistic modalities to address health issues in her patients, describes the amazing results homeopathic remedies had in helping her own dog, a Pit-Boxer mix named JD, heal from autoimmune disease.
“When JD was 3, he developed an acute high fever. Blood tests confirmed a diagnosis of autoimmune disease, which threatened to cause severe anemia and uncontrolled bleeding. His values were alarmingly low. The PCV (percentage of red cells in serum–optimum 36-60 percent) was 17.8 percent. Platelets were 73,000 (optimum 150-330,000) and later dropped to less than 10,000. He was too lethargic to stand or play. Eating was an effort. A cortisone injection, often used for this condition, caused severe pancreatitis and gastroenteritis.
Homeopathic remedies to reduce inflammation and support the immune system were chosen and injected intravenously in liquid form. Within a few hours, he was asking for a chew toy. The repeat testing three days later revealed a PCV of 34 percent and platelets 174,000, and he was much more active.”
Although homeopathy jumpstarted the process, JD’s complete recovery took two years. Dr. Juday says “A combination of a home-prepared diet, nutritional supplements, homeopathic remedies and Chinese herbs” were used to support this longer process of total recovery.
Laura Adams, DVM, CVA, has been a veterinarian for 16 years. Although her primary focus is acupuncture, she uses both conventional and holistic modalities to support her patients. The American Veterinary Medical Association describes veterinary acupuncture and acutherapy as “examination and stimulation of specific points on the body of nonhuman animals by use of acupuncture needles…and a variety of other techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of numerous conditions in animals.”
Dr. Adams describes the results of acupuncture in her dog patients as “amazing.” One such case was for a 3-year-old beagle named Betty, whose swollen disc resulted in partial paralysis in her hind legs.
“When I first saw Betty, she could only take a couple of steps before falling over. I did two treatments, one week apart, and then continued treating once every two weeks due to financial concerns. Within a month and a half, Betty was walking normally. She is still doing well today, and the owner brings her back for support whenever he sees the first signs of back pain.”
Krista Cantrell, M.A., (www.kristacantrell.com), a Qigong instructor for 18 years, explains that she is often called in to help dogs when traditional therapies aren’t working. “A Qigong practitioner directs and moves Qi (energy or life force) freely through the body to eliminate or reduce health problems, increase resilience and flexibility, and reduce the effects of aging and stress,” she says. According to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, “preliminary studies [in humans] suggest that Qigong can improve certain aspects of the immune system, and can increase functioning of the human body.”
Recently, Cantrell was asked to assist Max, a 6-year-old Dachshund, by his person, Marie. Max was in pain when touched, his stomach was extremely bloated, and he was diagnosed with spinal problems and a neurological deficit in his right hind leg. Traditional veterinary medicine didn’t seem to be helping.
“When I saw Max, his Qi was stagnant and not flowing smoothly throughout his body, especially in his stomach and bladder meridians. The first physical signal that Max’s Qi was not flowing smoothly was his bloated stomach, which often indicates a stomach and spleen imbalance. The second physical signal was that Max’s back right paw did not lift up and roll over quickly. Rear leg lameness is another sign that can appear when the stomach meridian needs rebalancing. During the Qigong session, I rebalanced Max’s meridians (especially stomach and bladder meridians) and guided the Qi to flow through his bones. I also shared with Marie a Qi exercise she could do every day with Max.
The next day Marie sent me an email that Max was doing “fabulous.” One month later, Max is “problem-free”– still getting his scratches, going for walks and having a lot of fun.”
Healing Touch for Animals was founded by Carol Kormitor, a former veterinary technician, (www.healingtouchforanimals.com). Because healing touch is relatively new, clinical research is limited, but there are many case studies showing positive results for clients. Shelley Wallen, one of Kormitor’s students, has been a healing Touch for Animals Practitioner for 3 years. She describes this energetic modality as using energy and intention to “encourage a natural healing process [that] can enhance response to traditional interventions.”
She recalls how a 6-year-old Newfoundland named Oslo responded to Healing Touch for Animals treatment.
“Oslo received an advanced arthritis diagnosis, causing severe pain in numerous joints. For two months, a veterinary pain specialist, veterinary acupuncturist and canine massage therapist closely monitored his care; Oslo’s pain escalated to the degree he could no longer tolerate touch. Shelley was asked to join the treatment team.
His family observed a different dog after his first HTA treatment. After examination the following day, his veterinarian reduced Oslo’s pain medication by 50 percent. After the third week of adding HTA treatments with his acupuncture, medication levels dropped from nine Tramadol per day to one, fully eliminated by the fourth week.”
Reiki and Flower EssencesBernie Fischer, DVM, PhD, has been a veterinarian for 23 years. In the following case, he shares how the energetic modalities of Reiki and flower essences assisted the end-of-life transition in a 13-year-old male neutered mix breed dog that, after being on medications for hip pain, collapsed one day.
“When I first saw Duffy, he was lying on a blanket on the floor and could hardly move. It was clear that he was extremely uncomfortable. I applied three drops of Old Blush China Rose flower essence to the skin on the inside of one of Duffy’s rear legs. This flower essence is helpful for providing a sense of safety for animals. I then sat next to Duffy and put one hand on his back. I closed my eyes and began the meditation and breathing which I often use to start a Reiki session. Duffy accepted the Reiki. During the session, the owner noted that Duffy’s breathing seemed to get easier, and he stopped shaking and shivering. After about 30 minutes, Duffy wanted to get up. The dog’s person and I helped Duffy up and he proceeded to go outside into the backyard and walk around, sniffing. Something he had not done in over a week. Later that night while sleeping comfortably, Duffy made his transition quietly and peacefully.”
As you can see, energy healing shines in a variety of situations. To try an energy healing modality with your dog, consult your local holistic veterinarian for suggestions. To find a holistic veterinarian in your area please consult the searchable listings at www.holisticvetlist.com, sponsored by the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.
(Originally published in Animal Wellness Magazine, June 2011)
Kathleen Prasad is an author, animal Reiki teacher, founder of Animal Reiki Source and President of the Shelter Animal Reiki Association. She teaches Reiki classes at BrightHaven Holistic Sanctuary and Hospice in Santa Rosa, California. For more information about her educational and informational programs, please visit her website at www.animalreikisource.com. (photo: copyright Lexie Cataldo).