State University Veterinary School Adds Acupuncture, Herbs and More

Using complementary and alternative methods with animals substantially defangs the classic skeptic’s complaint that it’s all from the placebo effect. This is a trend that will continue to grow. It’s good to see this happening in a state university program.

The Louisiana State University vet school is profiled in this article:

The LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, part of the veterinary school, has broadened its services to include acupuncture, massage therapy and herbal treatments for animals — the large ones for now and dogs and cats soon.

Rebecca McConnico, associate professor of veterinary medicine, said the combination of traditional medicine and newly adopted treatments are referred to as “integrative medicine.” She studied equine acupuncture at the Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine in Reddick, Fla., last year before earning her large animal certification.

“For me and my understanding and experience, (LSU) integrates with — not instead of,” she said, stressing the use of integrative therapies as a complement to traditional Western medicine.

McConnico works mainly with horses — the most common animal to receive this type of treatment. She said horses can benefit from the Eastern-inspired practices, particularly acupuncture.

“We use it in cases where horses have gastrointestinal or neurological disease, chronic pain or non-healing wounds,” McConnico said. “It takes 15 to 20 minutes, and most commonly is performed every four to six weeks for chronic pain.”

If the horse is afraid of needles, the vet staff uses a form of acupuncture called acupressure, wherein pressure is applied to the various points.

McConnico said she has worked with about two dozen animals since her recent certification, including horses, goats and cattle. She said clients are starting to learn about and seek this unique service for their animals.

“It seems to be well-received. Some clients just ask for it and sometimes it’s offered to them. Most are willing to try it.”