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Morgie’s Miracle: The successful treatment of a geriatric dog with acupuncture and herbs


Morgie is a 15-year young girl that initially came to me through our emergency service this past summer, and the story of her continued healing carried on well beyond my initial 24-hours of care with her.

Morgie’s mom brought her to us with the concern that she was feeling down and out, and even though Morgie had a history of early kidney disease, it was very unusual for her not to eat. Diagnostic tests were performed to ensure that there wasn’t any worsening of her kidney disease, other disease processes, or underlying “badness” such as cancer. To the relief of mom and everyone involved with her care, the tests results were boring (and we like boring in the ER!); she was treated for gastroenteritis, which is a fancy term for basically an “upset stomach.”

I had continued conversations with mom during her visits with Morgie and I learned that she also suffered from arthritis, back stiffness and pain. Due to her kidney disease, anti inflammatory pain medications were not an option for chronic pain management, as they can worsen the severity of disease, and narcotic pain medications are not always a good choice because they often cause sedation or dullness in personality.  So, I spoke with her about pursuing acupuncture to help her continue “to be all she could be” once she was back at home.

She made a full recovery but mom noted that she remained a little slow with eating and seemed to have continued decreased energy levels following her discharge home. This persistent “slightly off” attitude prompted her mom to call Dr. Kathy Lee, with hopes of giving her a holistic jump-start.

Morgie was a rescue dog that was adopted by the owner when she was 5 years old. In her prime, she worked as a trained sheep-herding dog, and although she is no longer “employed”, she remains very active, enjoying 1 ½ -2 mile walks twice a day (not too shabby!). Morgie currently lives and plays with her 7 year old “brother,” a Mexican dog named Zito, that is also a rescue. The primary goal for mom was to help her continue to have the best quality of life possible, especially in her golden years.

Morgie and mom soon met with Dr. Lee to discuss the approach of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). While Western medicine tends to address and focus on the area that is problematic, TCVM takes the entire body into consideration, including a patient’s personality, preference for warmth vs. cold surfaces, what they eat, and their mental state. The theory in TCVM is that disease occurs when the body is out of balance, and the goal of treatment is to bring the body back to balance with the use of acupuncture, herbs, and food. Together, Dr. Lee and Morgie’s mom determined the goals of her care and a treatment plan was started to address her underlying arthritis (common with older dogs), her early kidney disease, and her gastrointestinal problems.

Morgie was started on an every 2-4 week electroacupuncture treatment plan.  This involves the placement of acupuncture needles as in “traditional” acupuncture, but the needles are then connected to a unit that delivers small electric impulses to the individual acupoints. It sounds kind of crazy, but rest-assured, this is a non painful experience, and during her treatments, Morgie will often be lulled to sleep, enjoying her 30-minutes by mom’s side. Morgie’s rounded-out care also includes two oral Chinese herb formulations as well as dietary recommendations based on her current pattern of disease.

Electroacupuncture treatment in progress

Close up of acupuncture needles

Historically, Morgie has been very nervous about going to a veterinary hospital, and she is typically a “reserved” dog that does not like to be touched. During her treatments, however, she remains calm and relaxed.  Interestingly, her owner also reports that Morgie has become much more friendly towards other people and pets f0llowing her TCVM experiences.

It’s been 4 months since the start of Morgie’s treatments and she is “doing phenomenal” according to her mom. She is eating well and loving her food, continuing to go on her twice daily 2 mile walks, and is energetic and comfortable. Best yet: she has not had to start any mediations to improve her quality of life! Mom believes that Morgie has become more “present”, and she has been very happy with the process and the results. I just ran into Morgie and Mom yesterday as she was leaving her treatment and I can not believe how incredible she looks!  She literally looks like a different girl… Go Morgie!!

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Anonymous #

    East meets West and all is right in Morgie’s world. Lovely story and yes, Go Morgie.

    December 2, 2011

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