Posts Tagged ‘Veterinary Acupuncture’

Lyme Disease in Horses and Dogs: Part 1



It seems like the incidence of Lyme Disease (Borrelliosis) (LD) and other tick born infections continues to rise and are flourishing this autumn.  I hear from clients about how their horses, dogs as well as themselves are just getting covered in ticks more than ever this season.  Tick born diseases have been increasing in the northeast and throughout North America for more than two decades.  In 1992, I published on one hundred horses that I diagnosed with Equine Lyme Disease based on my acupuncture physical evaluation.  I correlated my clinical findings with the horses laboratory diagnostic tests, response to antibiotic treatment as well as their behavioral history.  It seemed that  there was about  an 82% correlation of my physical examination with response to antibiotics and the laboratory tests.  I have diagnosed hundreds of horses and dogs with Lyme disease since then in the past two decades.  If left untreated it can cause severe debilitating disease and even death.  If not treated appropriately and quickly, it is not uncommon to see it reoccur and become a chronic disease with potentially devastating consequences.

Lyme Disease can be ubiquitous and quite challenging to diagnose.  It has commonly been termed “the great imitator” since it can mimic so many other common conditions.  Whenever I lecture on LD, I state that it is both overdiagnosed and underdiagnosed.  In  the past, it had only been considered part of a differential diagnosis if classic signs such as an acute onset of swollen joints and a fever were evident.  Clinically, I have found that it is not uncommon that the first signs may actually manifest as various sudden behavioral aberrations due to an immune mediated myofascial inflammatory reaction to the spirochaete.  In horses,  some of the first signs that my clients and I notice are a sudden reticence to being touched, groomed, being saddled up or ridden.  The horses may occasionally become aggressive to people when being touched or handled in anyway.     At this point, results from diagnostic blood tests may be negative since it is too early to develop a blood titer.  Unfortunately, too many veterinarians still base their diagnosis solely on the blood tests (Elisa and Western Blot blood tests) despite the reminders by the laboratories that they are not definitively diagnostic.  There is rarely one specific sign that is definitely diagnostic for just Lyme disease.  I use a checklist of criteria to decide if I think Lyme disease may be the cause of the animals signs. (more…)

World Small Animal Veterinary Congress

Dr. Schoen guided by Korean Hostess in Traditional Korean DressI just returned from the lecturing at the World Small Animal Veterinary Congress on Jeju Island in South Korea.  It was a joy to reconnect with old colleagues and friends throughout the world.  I saw veterinary friends from South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand,  Australia, New Zealand, China, as well as from the U.S. and Canada.  It was fascinating to hear from them about all the changes over the past few years in each of their countries amidst all the environmental, economic, political, social and conscious events of the past few years.

One story that was common throughout all the discussions was how essential animal companions had become in the midst of the massive shifts and changes throughout the world.  The unconditional love shared by our kindred spirits was becoming even more vital to help support the human soul as we maneuver through the accelerated earth changes.  As cities throughout Asia increase in population density, increase in busyness, noise, financial abundance, it seems the desire to share the small apartments with animal companions increases.  Why is this I pondered.  My feelings are that with increased emphasis on financial success, a super efficient, multi-tasking mind stream, never-ending to do lists, the heart continues to shut down.  The stress with other families members heightens and the one and only place one’s heart can receive solace, comfort, loving kindness and compassion is from our kindred spirits, dogs, cats, and other animals that we can share our homes with.  I hear this over and over again wherever I travel to teach and share about the human animal bond and integrative animal health care.

With the increase in the number of companion animals, veterinary medicine, pharmaceuticals, pet foods, supplements, new, innovative diagnostic and therapeutic modalities also are on the rise.  The quality of veterinary care improves and inadvertently so do the costs.  The dance between quality and expense must be continually evaluated and balanced based on the financial ability of the human caretaker and the life of their  animal.  The questions inevitably arise such as what price is too much to save an animal’s life.  There is no black and white answer to this and it varies from patient to patient, human to human, situation to situation.  This can be an emotional roller coaster for the veterinarian as well as clients.  It is then an opportunity for veterinarians to keep an open, compassionate heart in the midst of economic realities.  Not always easy.

One partial solution that I lecture on is the benefit of integrative animal health care and true prevention through proper, healthy, natural, balanced, nutrition along with appropriate nutritional supplements.  In addition, the importance of regular exercise and heart to heart, loving connections that both help support a healthy immune system, thereby preventing disease and expensive intervention.  These messages seem to reverberate well with most veterinarians, whereby they often have an “aha” moment on how these holistic preventive measures are truly the essence of health and happiness for all beings.

These messages seemed to especially resonate with the veterinary students that attended my lectures and I interacted with afterwards.  The Korean veterinary students reminded me  that my last book, “Kindred Spirits, How the Remarkable Bond Between Humans and Animals Can Change the Way We Live”, had been translated into Korean and shared how it nourished their souls as they worked their way through the academic rigor of veterinary studies.  As four idealistic and excited veterinary students proudly  showed me around their beautiful island, Jeju, the Island of Peace, as it is known,  I was able to guide them through different mind/body exercises and meditations that might help them balance their lives as they entered this noble, yet challenging profession.  We sat by the beach, by waterfalls and discussed how natural health care, mind body medicine, loving kindness and compassion can be integrated into modern conventional medicine and surgery.  It was nice to see, that these messages were so well received by new up and coming veterinarians, the future of veterinary medicine and health care.

In addition,  I was happy to hear from professors at Korean and other Asian veterinary schools how my textbook, “Veterinary Acupuncture, Ancient Art to Modern Medicine” was used as the essential text on Veterinary Acupuncture  throughout the region.  After taking a self-created six month sabbatical from teaching, writing and veterinary practice, it was heartening to see that veterinary students and veterinarians throughout the world are continuing to recognize the importance of natural health care and the human animal bond in the healing of the world as we all meander through these intriguing global changes.  Loving kindness and compassion  through the support of our animal companions are essential in the planetary re-adjustments and healing.



A Root Question for Kindred Spirits

Is there a root question for kindred spirits?

In the mid 1990’s,  when I was one of the pioneers in integrating complementary and alternative veterinary medicine into conventional veterinary medicine, I was often confronted with a great deal of  skepticism and criticism from veterinarians who either were just unaware of all the research and documentation of these modalities or chose for whatever reason to be extremely adversarial against them.   As I was lamenting about the weariness of debating with some of these individuals who were really not interested in debate, but just proving that they were right and you were wrong, one wise friend of mine calmly suggested that perhaps we were asking the wrong questions.  The details of these debates can be reviewed in the Textbook of “Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine” edited by myself and Dr. Susan Wynn (see book section).   I was momentarily startled by her suggestion, but then listened intently to her discussion.  Her suggestion was that perhaps rather than debating about the quality and quantity of documentation, qualifications of various practitioners, the politics of it all, perhaps we should ask “What is best for the animals?”  Though the question seemed so obvious and so appropriate, so often we end up in a corner, because another party is framing the debate in order to get to a certain end result or solution.

Soon after that, I was invited to be on a committee to develop guidelines for Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine (CAVM).  Eight of the veterinarians were representing various fields of veterinary medicine, from small animals to large animals, from wild to domestic and exotic, from academia to veterinary practices, and from medicine to surgery.  They were all quite reserved and skeptical to say the least.  There were two veterinarians on the committee who were representing the field of CAVM, myself and one other.  As we introduced ourselves to each other and stated our qualifications for being on the committee, who we were representing and what our perspectives were, I quickly realized how it seemed like the odds were completely stacked against developing guidelines that would be supportive of CAVM.  Fortunately, I was the last person to introduce myself.

In addition, to diverge for a moment,  I had just completed a weeklong intensive in Aikido with John Denver’s bodyguard (yes, the folksinger had a bodyguard), Tom Crum.  Tom had just written a fascinating book called “The Magic of Conflict”, which essentially took the philosophy of Aikido to verbal debate.  Essentially, in its most basic form, one might briefly describe Aikido as the martial art of not fighting.  Every evening after a long day of practice of Aikido, we would have discussions on the skills of verbal Aikido, the martial art of not fighting, with words and language.  Perhaps this was one of the precursors to the approach of Nonviolent Communication.

Now, back to that moment when I was in front of this committee and was asked to introduce myself and what my perspective was.  After stating my background and qualifications, I suggested that even though the questions being asked were interesting and valid,  perhaps there may be even a broader, more encompassing question that may embrace all the varied perspectives on developing new guidelines for CAVM.  Perhaps, the base, root question should be “What is best for the animals under our care?”  After all, that is part of the Hippocratic Oath that we take when we venture forth on the journey of being a veterinarian.

There was dead silence for a few moments as they were all so taken back by that essential question.   As faces rumpled up, brows raised and jaws dropped, there seemed to be a moment of cognitive dissonance.  Interestingly enough though, one by one, smiles came to the faces of all these rather reserved, professional veterinarians and it seemed to touch them at their core, at their original desire in their hearts of why they chose to be veterinarians.  By the end of the first day of our meetings, they had all agreed with great comraderie,  that indeed, that should be the root question of all our discussions.  Fortunately, by asking the right question, we were all able to develop respectful, balanced guidelines to assist veterinarians in the professional integration of CAVM into conventional veterinary medicine and it was for the best for all the animals under our care.  Certainly, there were still some extremist skeptics with their own personal agenda’s that despite all discussion, would still choose to disagree with that point, but rarely is it possible to please everyone.

With that in mind, I invite all kindred spirits to ask themselves, if we are all working together to create a new, more compassionate society with the intention of it being for the benefit of all beings, what are the right questions to ask ourselves and others, as we make future decisions on how to be in this world.  What if as we go about our daily responsibilities, chores, interactions with others at work, in school, at play, and everywhere in each and every moment, we ask ourselves if  our choices are the best for the benefit of all beings.  How would that look?

What are your thoughts on this?  If you have been or are asking this question in certain situations, how has it impacted on your choices and actions?  How has it impacted on others? How has it impacted on your contributions to the future of a new, more compassionate 21st century?   Thoughts?