Owner: Acupuncture helps dog walk again

Acupuncture therapy can help pets with variety of conditions

APOPKA, Fla. – Most people have heard of acupuncture. It's an Eastern medicine technique that is done by putting needles into different points on the body.

But what many people don't realize is the treatment can also be effective in pets.

[WEB EXTRA: Acupuncture for catsAcupuncture helps dog walk again ]

Mercedes is a 13-year-old miniature Dachshund. Her owner, Paul Viar, said up until several weeks ago, she was very active. But he said overnight, that changed.

"She was fine, jumping, running around, everything," said Viar. "But the next morning, there was just nothing in those hind legs, they were just gone."

He said those back legs were basically paralyzed and she'd lost control of her bladder and bowels.

"One option was surgery and the other option, Dr. Ortiz said she could do acupuncture," said Viar.

Viar said he was skeptical, but decided to give the treatments a shot.

Veterinarian Dr. Ana Doris Ortiz does the treatments right at Pet Paradise Animal Hospital in Apopka.

Ortiz said acupuncture encourages the body to heal itself by creating an energy balance in the body. She said it can enhance circulation, help to stimulate the nervous system and even the release of anti-inflammatory hormones.

"We're going to be positioning some needles to be able to finish with electroacupuncture which is a little bit more powerful and in her condition she can certainly benefit from it," said Ortiz.

Viar said Mercedes definitely benefits from the treatments, she's done a complete turnaround.

"She has her continence back, she doesn't go to the bathroom in the house anymore," said Viar. "She has some motor control when she walks now."

During their interview, Viar and Mercedes even took us outside, where they showed us she can walk using a scarf as a sling to give some support to her hind legs.

But it's not just Mercedes that's seeing the benefits.

A 10-year-old rescue Greyhound, Sombra, has also improved drastically. She has cancer and a mass on her side, but you'd never know it.

Her mom, Reina Pincus, credits it to the acupuncture.

"At the beginning, it was very strict, once every four to five weeks," said Pincus. "Now, it's as we feel she needs it, she gets it."

It seems to be working. When we met Sombra, we couldn't even tell she was sick.

"It's prolonged the life and made her comfortable in this case," said Pincus. "We thought we were going to have one week, two weeks with her, and that was a year and a half ago."

"I am not trying to create miracles, although I am not opposed to that," said Ortiz. "But if it's something that I feel I am not harming the animal, but I can only just enhance their lives, this is how I explain it."

We checked back in with Viar and Mercedes a few weeks after we met them, and the staff at Pet Paradise sent us video showing Mercedes walking on her own. They said everyone is thrilled to see her progress, and it appears Mercedes is, too.

Pet Paradise staff members said the cost for the acupuncture treatments can vary. Ortiz prefers to do a full Chinese medicine exam on a pet before starting treatment, which costs $125. That does include the first acupuncture session. Individual sessions go for $65 each, but because they recommend four treatments before a re-evaluation, they said they do offer discount packages.

About the Author: