Pet Wellness From The Holistic Perspective


PetFinder.my recently interviewed Dr. Susanna Brida-Hofherr of Asia Paws, a holistic veterinary clinic in Kuala Lumpur. At present, Dr. Susanna is Malaysias only certified veterinary acupuncturist.


PF: Dr. Susanna, why do pet-owners decide to explore holistic healing therapies for their animals?

SB-H: Acupuncture, Chinese and Western herbal medicines and homeopathy are not new — theyve been developed, tested and proven for centuries. A holistic approach for treating a patient stimulates an animals natural abilities to heal from within, especially when conventional medicine has proven ineffective. Holistic medicine can also be used to complement — increase the benefits and reduce the side-effects of — traditional treatments for cancer, autoimmune diseases and organ-related diseases.


PF: What types of patients come to Asia Paws? And with what sorts of problems?

SB-H: Acupuncture can help to manage chronic pain and illnesses in animals that cant be cured by conventional treatment, or for those who cant withstand the conventional treatments side-effects. A wide variety of conditions respond to acupuncture either as primary treatment or in combination with conventional medicine.

Many of our patients are deemed incurable cases. Some have struggled with recurring problems for a long time. We use mainly Chinese medicine (acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese herbal medicines) to treat them. When applicable we also use homeopathic remedies and, especially for emotional support, Bach Flower Remedies.

The most common reason for acupuncture is pain control and improvement of mobility for a pet. Pain due to osteoarthritis, muscle spasms and degenerative joint diseases such as hip dysplasia and intervertebral disc disease make an animals life miserable. The cause of these problems may be genetic and or advanced age. Pain, swelling and limited range of motion make it hard for pets to lie down or walk comfortably. Even squatting, the normal position for urination and defecation, can become difficult and painful. Other conditions treated with acupuncture include allergies, chronic kidney disease, digestive disturbances, epilepsy, cancer and some skin problems.


PF: How does acupuncture work, anyway?

SB-H: The use of acupuncture is based on the vital life force, called Qi (or Chi) which flows through the body along meridians. Stimulation of points on these pathways causes the release of natural pain relief chemicals called endorphins. Other effects may include the release of anti-inflammatory and euphoric substances, increased circulation and reduced inflammation. The western explanation is based on neurotransmitters, serotonin and prostaglandins. Acupuncture aims to balance Qi, increasing it in some meridians and decreasing it in others. Unbalanced Qi causes disease.

The acupuncture meridians, by the way, have been mapped for all animal species. At Asia Paws, weve treated dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and the occasional horse so far.


PF: With acupuncture, you insert needles into the animal, correct? Is that painful?

SB-H: The insertion of our tiny single-use needles (as fine as a hair) feels a bit like a mosquito bite. Sometimes we use a mild electrical current or we rotate the needles or move them otherwise to achieve the desired effect. Acupuncture points are chosen depending on the nature of the problem, the source of the Qi imbalance. As a trained veterinary acupuncturist, I can determine these sites with accuracy. The average treatment takes from 20 minutes to 1 hour. Relief can be evident as soon as the first treatment but, depending on the severity of the problem, results are more commonly seen after 4 to 6 weeks of regular treatments.


About Dr. Susanna Brida-Hofherr

Dr. Susanna has a degree in Veterinary Medicine (Dr. Med. Vet.) from the Veterinary University of Vienna, Austria and is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in London, England. At present, she is the only Certified Practitioner of Animal Acupuncture by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) in Malaysia. Over the past 18 years, she has practiced veterinary medicine in Austria, Germany, Philippines, Indonesia, and now in Malaysia. Her medical philosophy is based on holistic treatment, and she strongly believes that TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) is a credible alternative for many ailments. She has the advantage of many years experience as a conventional veterinarian. Her treatment methods, therefore, follow conventional modalities while using TCVM principles to further enhance them. For more information, please visit http://www.AsiaPaws.com/




Amanda Coffin

Amanda is a long-time resident of Kuala Lumpur. She lives with two cats and is PetFinder.my's Forum Moderator. She also owns her own freelance writing and editing company, Stylus Inc.

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