Helping your best friend heal with holistic medicine

You wouldn’t know it by the way Paul Keen’s best friend Nila — a two-and-a-half-year-old corgi — races around the room with a smile on her face, but roughly six months ago, she was having trouble walking.

Nila’s troubles started in the winter when the corgi’s left leg slipped out from under her on a patch of ice — causing swelling and pinching a nerve in her lower back.

After taking Nila to the family vet and a special-care clinic, she was diagnosed with lumbosacral syndrome, when the spinal cord changes shape from a tubular structure to a collection of large nerves. It was caused by pressure on the nerves where they exit the spine.

It was recommended she go on painkillers and “bed rest”— short walks and limited activity.

After a few months, Keen decided Nila wasn’t getting much better and the painkillers were limiting her pain instead of curing it.

“Once the medicine wore off, she’d be back in pain,” Keen said.

It was at this point that Keen decided to turn to Dr. Yanhui Qi at the Calgary Holistic Veterinary Clinic, and try acupuncture on his dog’s bad back and hip.Dr. Yanhui Qi administers acupuncture treatment to his patient Nila. Qi said his passion for holistic veterinary medicine has only grown stronger in the 20 years he’s practiced.

Photo by Ian Esplen

“After about the sixth or seventh treatment, Nila really started to show some improvement,” Keen said.

What started as a twice-a-week schedule for Nila six months ago has now progressed to the point where she is only receiving treatment as preventative maintenance, rather than eliminating her previous joint pain.

“I notice now that at about the three week point she’ll get a little draggy, so I’ll bring her in and after she comes out of here she wants to go on a long walk or she’ll be bouncing around the room,” he said.

Nila’s story isn’t the only one Qi has witnessed in his more than 20 years of practicing veterinary holistic medicine.

“I can think of many animals I’ve helped over the years,” Qi said, chuckling as he recounted previous experiences.

Qi recalled the story of a dachshund with chronic disc pain, causing his back legs to be nearly paralyzed. After about eight acupuncture treatments, the dog made a full recovery.

Cases like this are not unusual to Qi. He sees them five to 10 animals a day when he treats with acupuncture.

While differences between holistic and traditional veterinary medicine exist, Qi is quick to point out that both ways of practicing are beneficial for the health of an animal.

“Holistic and traditional medicine are not contradictive, they work together to improve the quality of animals’ lives,” Qi said.

iesplen@cjournal.ca