Energy healing can have a profound effect on a dog’s well-being. Check out some modalities that are growing in popularity.
If you practice Reiki on your dog, or turn to homeopathy or acupuncture when he’s under the weather, you’re in good company. According to the World Health Organization, 65–80% of the world’s health care services use complementary and alternative medicine. That means, from a population standpoint, more people around the world use complementary than traditional healing methods! Since 68% of US households have at least one companion animal, it’s no surprise that many people are turning to energy healing and other holistic modalities to help their furry friends.
The goal of energy healing is to rebalance the dog’s life force or biofield. As a holistic modality, energy healing sees the dog’s health from the perspective of his “whole being” – 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. As you’ll discover, this often results in an improvement or resolution of the problem.
“Homeopathy seeks to stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself by giving very small doses of highly diluted substances,” according to the National Institutes of Health. In most cases, these substances are so dilute that only their “energy” remains, affecting and acting upon the energetic level of healing for the client.
“When JD was three, he developed an acute high fever,” says integrative veterinarian Dr. Cynthia Juday of her pit bull-boxer mix. “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 – the optimum is 36% to 60%) was just 17.8%. His platelets were at 73,000 (the optimum is 150,000 to 300,000) 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, JD was asking for a chew toy. Repeat testing three days later revealed a PCV of 34% and platelets at 174,000. JD was much more active.”
Although homeopathy jumpstarted the process, JD’s complete recovery took two years. “A combination of a home-prepared diet, nutritional supplements, homeopathic remedies and Chinese herb was used to support this longer process of total recovery,” says. Dr. Juday.
2. Acupuncture and Acupressure
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.”
Veterinarian Dr. Laura Adams describes the results of acupuncture in her dog patients as “amazing”. One such case involved a three-year-old beagle named Betty, who had a swollen disc that resulted in partial paralysis in her hind legs.
“When I first saw Betty, she could only take a couple of steps before falling over,” says Dr. Adams. “I did two treatments, one week apart, then continued treating once every two weeks. Within a month-and-a-half, Betty was walking normally. She is still doing well today, and her owner brings her back for support whenever he sees the first signs of back pain.” For more about acupuncture, turn to page 42 in this issue.
Acupressure uses a similar approach as acupuncture, but is less invasive, using pressure rather than needles to relieve, prevent and treat many health conditions. Acupressure is sometimes used in conjunction with massage, and there are many well-respected certification schools around the world.
“A Qigong practitioner directs and moves Qi (energy or life force) through the body to eliminate or minimize health problems, increase resilience and flexibility, and reduce the effects of aging and stress,” says Krista Cantrell, MA, who has been a Qigong instructor for 18 years. 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.”
Krista is often called in to help dogs when traditional therapies aren’t working. Recently, she was asked to assist Max, a six-year-old Dachshund. Max was in pain when touched, his stomach was extremely bloated, and he had been 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,” explains Krista. “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 his 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 the stomach and bladder meridians) and guided the Qi to flow through his bones. I also shared with his person, Marie, a Qi exercise she could do every day with him.
“The next day Marie sent me an e-mail 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.”
4. Healing Touch and TTouch
Healing Touch for Animals (HTA) was founded by a former veterinary technician named Carol Kormitor. Shelley Wallen, one of Carol’s students, has been a HTA practitioner for three years. She describes the modality as using energy and intention to “encourage a natural healing process [that] can enhance response to traditional interventions.” Because Healing Touch is relatively new, clinical research is limited, but many case studies are showing positive results.
Shelley recalls how a six-year-old Newfoundland named Oslo responded to HTA. “Oslo received an advanced arthritis diagnosis, and had 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 point he could no longer tolerate touch.” After his first HTA treatment, Oslo was a different dog. After examination the following day, his veterinarian reduced his pain medication by 50%.
After the third week of adding HTA treatments and acupuncture, Oslo’s medication levels dropped from nine Tramadol per day to one, and even that was fully eliminated by the fourth week.
The TTouch Method, created by Linda Tellington-Jones, also uses touch, movement and intention to improve behavior and health while establishing a deeper connection and understanding between humans and their animals.
5. Reiki and flower essences
Reiki is a Japanese spiritual practice with therapeutic applications. When shared with humans, Reiki combines precepts for living that nurture a balanced life, with light touch and specified hand placements for treatments. To honor animals’ preferences and sensitivities, Animal Reiki relies on the more meditative aspects of practice to create a peaceful space, which is ideal for the animal to heal himself. Animals respond very well to this meditative connection with the practitioner because they are more sensitive to energy and intention, and physical touch may be uncomfortable for them. Reiki is gentle, non-invasive and safe to use.
Flower essences are infusions that use the vibrational part of the flower for healing. Each flower has a specific healing property, each of which can help rebalance a specific aspect of body, mind and spirit. Flower essences have no fragrances, flavors or dyes and are safe and gentle to use. They may be applied directly to the skin, paws, ears, placed in the animal’s water or diffused into the air near the animal.
Although they are two different modalities and commonly used separately, Reiki and flower essences can work together in a variety of conditions and situations, including the end-of-life transition. In the following case, veterinarian Bernie Fischer shares how the energetic modalities of Reiki and flower essences assisted the transition of a 13-year-old dog with hip pain who collapsed one day.
“When I first saw Duffy, he was lying on a blanket and could hardly move,” says Dr. Fischer. “It was clear 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 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. We helped him up and he proceeded to go outside into the backyard and walked 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!