Pets in distress

A Chinese medicine practitioner applies her skills to relieve some of the problems animals experience.

pet distress 88 (photo credit: )
pet distress 88
(photo credit: )
Traumatic events in an animal's life can leave long-term scars. Pet owners are often at a loss to understand or overcome an animal's seemingly eccentric behaviors. Many people live with pets that are unpredictable or just unfriendly for no apparent reason. Neomi David, a practitioner of Chinese medicine, trained in London and practices in Israel. She offers some insights and hope for pets and their families. Pets provide significant relationships in the lives of many people, says David. Some relationships come easily and naturally but, for the most part, a strong connection requires work and commitment. You make sacrifices and rearrange your own life to accommodate the ones you care for. Animal lovers and owners also make a commitment to their pets. They get up earlier to walk them, feed them and acknowledge them - the pet may even receive (and give back) more attention than other family members. As one busy mother said, "When I get home, the kids are watching TV or playing games and they barely acknowledge my arrival. But our dog, Casper, never fails to run up and greet me with his tail wagging happily." But Casper is not always a happy dog, notes David. He has a very hard time in the morning when everyone is getting ready to leave. He chewed the wooden table legs and has been known to howl and bark throughout the morning hours, leaving neighbors to wonder what's wrong. While many people adopt a pet and just learn to live with its personality, some responsible pet owners will seek training instructions to make their pet happier and more socially acceptable. Positive reinforcement behavioral therapy is the best way to have a happy pet. Training through treats and affection will produce the best results. But some people don't realize the long-term damage they can inflict when they use negative, angry responses to control their pets rather than train them. Often it is not a matter of training or punishing. Many pets suffer from anxiety or physical ailments that cannot be solved through training or cured through medication. According to David, "Where training isn't enough, Chinese medicine offers solutions." As a practitioner of Chinese medicine in treating animal disorders, David says she has seen amazing improvements in the quality of life for animals that were clearly in distress. While traditional treatments offered little help, the hands-on treatments clearly made a difference. Many people are treating pets with Prozac to calm them down. Tranquilizers treat the symptoms without addressing the cause of the problem. David specializes in treating dogs, cats and horses. She reports that almost as soon as she begins treatment, the animals just relax. They seem to instinctively know that she wants to help them. Chinese medicine is 3,000 years old. It is based on Chinese theory of the body divided into meridians with good energy flow producing a balance that is the backbone of a healthy system. When someone tells David that his/her pet seems to have panic attacks, high anxiety or fearful cowering, David understands that the pet is off center. She conducts a complete examination of the body and the quality of the fur to discover, through touch, which areas are out of sync and require attention. She conducts an extensive interview with the people in the pet's life to understand exactly what each individual perceives as part of the problem. Different problems reflect different organs in the body. She explains that "High anxiety is connected to the heart, while excessive aggression is connected to liver function. My purpose is to harmonize the body, and the behavior problems will usually disappear." The Chinese medicine practitioner uses three main tools to cure animal disorders. The hands-on treatment of massage with acupressure and reflexology is first. It may look like she is giving the animal a simple massage, but her trained fingers, wrists and even elbows use different pressures to stimulate acu-points. She may use acupuncture where pets are calm and accepting. The third tool is herbal treatments, both as food supplements or aroma therapy and massage oils. Knowing precisely which combinations will be most helpful is part of the intensive science that the practitioner must master. A case in point: Pepe is a dog with high sensitivity to noises. Parts of her fur were very dry, and she was restless most of the day. Her owners had been feeding her in the evenings when they got home. After an evaluation, David recommended feeding her in the mornings, adding some herbal supplements. This and paying more attention to maintaining a familiar and predictable routine with clearly defined borders have produced and calmer and happier pet and a more relaxed household. Chinese medicine does not eliminate traditional training, but it does make it work better. David comes to homes to better understand what adjustments are realistic for the family. There is no point in recommending things that cannot be implemented. That is part of the success of her treatment. It is personalized for the pet owner's specific needs. Poupick is an an extremely intelligent dog with good people skills. But he had very bad dandruff and dry fur and would become so anxious when his owners left that he had ruined the door and scratched a hole in the wall. Even with people there, he would seem to have a panic attack, standing and barking and trembling with fear of noises. A veterinarian had tried some treatments and trainers tried their advice before the pet's owners found their way to David. After her initial evaluation, she recommended herbal food supplements and began treatment using massage and acupressure. Poupick was extremely receptive and even tolerated acupuncture with ease. After six treatments, Poupick's coat was fluffy and soft, and the dandruff had gone. He knows his place - where he goes when his owners leave - and is calm and trusting again. He is in harmony and in balance, like a new dog. In our frightening world, we hear a lot about post-traumatic stress disorder. Just as people may experience a sometimes delayed reaction to a traumatic event, dogs are also affected by sudden unexpected events. Buckeye was a happy dog, with no issues or problems out of the ordinary. Her owner took her along on outings, where she happily spent time with other dogs in a group pen. If the owner planned to be away overnight, he would bring the dog's blanket and food bowl and the dog understood that it would be a longer visit. Life was predictable and acceptable. But one day, her owner was in an accident and was rushed to the hospital. Buckeye was left without food or comfort and was not tended to until the next day when friends came to get her. She was very depressed. Even after her owner came home again, she couldn't seem to relax and be her usual happy self. Treatment with Bach Flower and herbal aroma therapy helped clean the trauma out of her system and, after just one treatment; Buckeye was fine again. A beautiful female Husky, Neela was traumatized after delivering her first litter of puppies. Do dogs know about post-partum depression? She lost a lot of weight and lost patches of her fur. Two vets checked her blood tests and found nothing physically wrong with the clearly miserable dog. After two treatments with acupressure and Bach Flower and aroma therapy, she is a beautiful, happy dog again. Her owners also learned simple massage and pressure techniques to help their dog stay happy and healthy. David was treating a horse with back pains. He resisted the saddle because it was painful, not because he was misbehaving. The horse responded well to therapeutic oils and deep massage and acupressure. She submitted to the treatment with head down and complete cooperation. In time, she was able to wear the saddle and bear riders without complaint. According to David, "There are very good ways to treat even chronic problems like back pains and arthritis. Your vet can offer symptom relief. Chinese therapy can reduce the problem and even find a solution." How do you know if your dog would benefit from treatment with Chinese medicine? Does your dog seem overly active? Is its coat dry? There may be a problem with the yin. Is it lethargic, lacking energy and always hungry? It may be the Yan. Are there hot or cold areas on its body? Is there excessive drooling? Is it sensitive to touch or noise or to certain people? Has your dog's behavior changed, particularly after some major change in his life? Moving home, traveling in a crate long distances, undergoing surgical treatments, having a family member leave home - so many events impact on a pet's well-being and sense of security and trust. If your pet is not very much fun to live with, there is help available. For more information, visit or