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Helly pins down successful alternative pet treatment

Tilly’s improvement after 2 weeks of acupuncture
Tilly’s jaundice

Harrison Family Vets in Woodley has become the first in Reading to offer a traditional form of acupuncture, which has been used to successfully treat animals in China for thousands of years, and it’s already having a dramatic effect on local pets.

Harrison Family Vets’ veterinary surgeon, Dr Helly Nunez, recently qualified as a veterinary acupuncturist, endorsed by Chi University and The World Association of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (WATCVM). Helly’s qualification provided an in-depth mix of both theory and practice, as well as covering the frameworks used in acupuncture, its scientific basis, diagnosis and how to integrate acupuncture into practice.

Conditions it can be used to treat include gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease, immunological problems, behavioural issues, neurological conditions, endocrine disorders and allergies. In can also be used for pain management caused by ageing, arthritis, surgery, hip dysplasia and intervertebral disc disease.

Helly explained: “Acupuncture can be used alongside conventional medicine and treatment plans and in some conditions, can be used as a sole treatment which makes it a great option for all types of pets.

“The treatment uses very thin sterile needles that are inserted under the skin to stimulate the central nervous system, with minimal discomfort for the patient. The basis for acupuncture is to look at the pet in its entirety, which means it can give answers to diseases that might not be linked in modern medicine, but they are in Chinese medicine.

“Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) is relatively new in the West, but the theory revolves around disease being an imbalance in the body. Diagnosis comes from identifying the underlying pattern of disharmony, which considers disease signs and how they relate to the pet’s temperament, sex, age, activity, and environment.

“I decided to study TCVM after witnessing its success during my time as a student in a pet hospital, where it helped pets to thrive after an integrative treatment, consisting of acupuncture alongside changes to diet and lifestyle. Crucially, it’s not only for pain relief, but can be used to treat many other problems. I have seen acupuncture help incredibly serious conditions such as a patient who was in a coma, and one with a fractured spine, in these cases with fantastic success.

Several local pets are already enjoying the benefits of acupuncture at Harrison Family Vets. These include Shetland Sheepdog, Tilly who was suffering with jaundice, before being diagnosed with a gallbladder mucocele. When she hadn’t eaten for several days, despite trying fluid therapy and numerous medications, the options were running out.

Helly performed acupuncture and within 15 minutes Tilly started eating again and over the next few days her jaundice subsided. Tilly had also regularly suffered with diarrhoea and vomiting and using TCVM, Helly treated liver Qi stagnation. With further acupuncture treatment, combined with food therapy, Tilly has made a full recovery and her latest scans and blood tests show her gallbladder mucocele has really improved.

Tilly’s owner, Kathy May, said: “At 12 years old surgery was risky for Tilly and when she wasn’t eating or responding to treatments, we feared the worst, but the acupuncture had an almost immediate effect. She’s now playing like a puppy and loves her food again.

“We also have another Shetland Sheepdog, Poppy, who we rescued from a puppy farm. She’s at least 13 years old and was suffering with urinary incontinence, which Helly has cured with acupuncture. She’s also very anxious due to her past-life and has dementia, meaning she often couldn’t remember where we lived and would walk straight past our house, but both these problems are improving as well with acupuncture to the point where people don’t even think she’s the same dog. We’ve been amazed how acupuncture has transformed the lives and health of both our dogs.”

Helly added: “Poppy has had a very hard life and her health problems are likely to have been exasperated by her being used for intense breeding. Western medicine wouldn’t usually include her life experiences in her diagnosis and would consider her symptoms separately, whereas using TCVM encourages us to look at the bigger picture, which can lead to impressive results.

“Having the ability to combine the best in conventional medicine with TCVM now gives Harrison Family Vets a very exciting and compelling offering for pet owners in and around Reading.”

Kristie Faulkner, operations director at Harrison Family Vets, added: “As we continue to push the boundaries of pet care in the UK, we are really pleased to add to acupuncture to the treatments that we can provide for pets across Reading and beyond.”

Introducing acupuncture follows Harrison Family Vets in Reading becoming the first practice in the UK to be officially named as an accredited Fear Free Practice, committed to reducing fear and stress in pets visiting the clinic.

The practice already boasts a wide range of other pet-friendly initiatives including an innovative waiting area with bespoke pods, which are all spaced out to give clients their own space and shield pets from the stresses of facing other pets in a traditional waiting room. Other innovations include separate dog and cat wards complete with mood lighting, pet-friendly aromas, and music to create a calming atmosphere.