Paws to heal – Bangalore Mirror

By daniellenierenberg

From cold laser and acupuncture to sound and water therapies, vets now offer pets drug-free solutions to manage pain and recover fasterWhen Jayesh Wasan and his wife Swathi moved to India from the US in 2007, their cat Rocky was three years old. He was diagnosed with arthritis shortly after and over the years, also developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a urinary tract infection. Naturally, he was on various medications, including steroids, which the Wasans were warned, could take a toll on the felines kidneys in the long run. The pet parents were also worried about the pain made apparent by his prominent limp that he would endure while walking, particularly while using the stairs.

After years of trying various treatments, Rockys vet Dr Deepa Katyal advised the couple to try cold laser therapy and acupuncture, in conjunction with medication. I was initially surprised, but we trust our vet so we tried it. While the results werent immediate, within months, Rocky was able to move more swiftly and was even able to jump on top of his tiny cat house. I dont know if there has been a marked difference, but he doesnt cry as much as he used to, and certainly appears to have better mobility, says Swathi, who is even happier that Rocky doesnt need as many steroids anymore.

Katyal has been using acupuncture and cold laser in her practice for the last six years and she says it has been effective on dogs and cats suffering from everything from pancreatitis and liver enlargement to various muscle and hip-related conditions. She was introduced to these therapies while struggling to manage the conditions her own German Shepherd, Rocky was living with. Then 12, Rocky had intervertebral disc disease, and Katyal remembers, Although he would ambulate well outdoors, when you got him inside the house, he would just sit in a corner and avoid moving. He was also losing his hold over the marble floor. By the time he turned 13, Rocky had stopped responding to painkillers, lost control of his bladder and almost spiralled into a vegetative state. That he also had a bone condition and slipped disc meant that mobility was sharply compromised and he also had to be catheterised. I was desperate and my heart bled as I chased everyone I could to find a means to ease his pain, remembers Katyal, who eventually chanced upon and pursued a course in acupuncture from the North American Veterinary Council, in the hope that the alternative therapy might yield results. I then augmented acupuncture and laser with stem cell therapy, and my dog stood up. His urine was still dribbling and he passed stool once in three days, but he was mobile. That was quite an achievement for an animal that couldnt even stand, says Katyal, of Rocky, who passed away at the age of 14 in 2011.

Jayesh Wasans cat Rocky goes through a cold laser

Sound adviceDr Akshay Shah, a Wadala-based vet always implores patients to cut down on painkillers, and makes it a pose to organs. When Aarya Sharma consulted him for his Labrador Laila, who was having trouble walking, Dr Shah suggested an integrated course of ultrasound therapy, joint supplements and acupuncture. Laila was also diagnosed with hip dysplasia, which had rendered her hind legs barely functional. When her condition worsened, Sharma had to start carrying her down the stairs from her ninth-floor Colaba apartment. She was in such immense pain, she would refuse to go for walks, says the 25-year-old fashion stylist, adding that Lailas hind legs had degenerated by 80 per cent. Shah immediately put Laila on a course of Ultrasound therapy, which involves generating mild heat inside the tissues to relieve the pain. We set the timer and frequency of the sound waves depending on each case. Then, we use a gel which acts as a conducting material and the probe is held to the skin, says Shah.

After a month of this integrated treatment, Laila was back on her feet, and more energetic than before, Sharma recalls. We Googled the therapy and found a lot of interviews of doctors from across the world. Most of them said that while it wont solve the problem, it can arrest the pain for a while and ensure your dog doesnt become bed-ridden. It really improves their quality of life, says Sharma.

Current affairBut painkillers are still the go-to treatment for most, at least until they know what options exist. When Ghatkopar residents Saloni and Rushabh Thakkars Labrador Hugo started suffering from hip dysplasia, a condition that breeds such as Labradors and golden retrievers are genetically predisposed to, they did start him on painkillers to alleviate the discomfort. While it helped, it also made Hugo sleepy and sluggish. There were days when his water bowl was near him, but he wouldnt get up to walk to it; we had to place it right in front of him, says Thakkar, an advertising professional. With time, Hugos condition got progressively worse, until one day, when he slipped while walking and couldnt get back on his feet. When he was rushed to the vet, he was given a session of electro-acupuncture, which involves dry needling along with application of a mild faradic current to stimulate certain points which help clear the many pathways in the body.

The procedure was repeated over the next few days, and within a week, Hugo was back on his feet. For neuropathic pain, you are triggering certain muscles and it attends to the mobility issue. Its also effective in triggering those nerves that are getting worn out and the muscles which are getting atrophic, says Katyal, who feels that introducing dogs to such procedures at an early age could also delay the onset of various muscle and nerve-related conditions.

Katyal also uses Trans Electrical Nerve Stimulation, where electric current is used to stimulate nerves and help in pain management. Make-up artist Tanya Shengde, 28, says the therapy helped her Labrador Bruno, when he was grappling with vestibular syndrome, a nerve condition that threw him off balance. He also had bad hips, which left him in an almost convulsive state, where he couldnt even get up, says Katyal, who treated the dog with a combination of therapies for over two years. Sometimes pet parents get worked up when they first see the electrodes, but the benefits speak for themselves, she says.

Dr Pranjal Nadkarnis underwater treadmill; Dr Akshay Shah performs ultrasound therapy on Laila, a labrador

Pooja Advani, a physical hydrotherapist, who runs the pet wellness centre Doggie Dog World offers various therapies, including swimming and underwater massages. When Ambuj Dixits Labrador Romeo was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at the age of two, he started researching alternative therapies to alleviate his pets pain. Since he was diagnosed at an early stage, we decided to try out hydrotherapy in conjunction with supplements, says Dixit. But a year ago, Romeos condition worsened and surgery was recommended. I decided to go back to the hydrotherapy sessions where Romeo underwent prescribed swimming sessions. After a year of therapy, Romeo is no longer on medication and surgery is not deemed an immediate necessity for him.

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Paws to heal - Bangalore Mirror

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