Animal Hospital Builds Room for Acupuncture
Cinnaminson vet created a space for an unusual treatment that's been giving some pets their "puppy" back.
Peetie hobbles into her doctor’s office in Cinnaminson, happy to see an old friend and to get some relief for her arthritis pain. She lies down in a room painted in earth tones.
A miniature Buddha statue sits on a shelf in the corner while a bamboo divider occupies the opposite wall. It’s a different kind of examination room, for sure, but it’s also a different kind of treatment.
Today, she’ll be getting acupuncture, an unusual treatment for most people, but even more so for Peetie, considering she’s a dog.
Dr. Robyn Steiner, of the Cinnaminson Animal Hospital, opened the quaint holistic wing of her practice just last week, and 14-year-old mixbreed Peetie had the honor of being the first patient in the new room. Steiner’s been a veterinarian for 18 years, but for the last eight, Steiner’s interests have turned to the Far East.
“It’s really a Western practice here,” Steiner said of the animal hospital, “This is an offshoot of other things in my life, like my yoga classes.”
Although the addition of the acupuncture room is new, Steiner’s been practicing acupuncture on animals for years. Steiner believes in the treatment so strongly, she, along with hospital manager Chrissy Devine (and some help from Devine’s husband), designed and built the addition out of the former employees' lounge. The new room’s features are less sterile than the typical examination room. Hardwood floors and a warm atmosphere dampen harsh florescent lighting, unlike the typical stark white of the other rooms.
Steiner admits there aren’t a lot of studies to back up holistic treatments like acupuncture, but Peetie’s reaction has convinced her owner, Sarah Beers.
“Peetie’s a family member,” Steiner said. “It was sad for them to see her losing her mobility.”
Beers, who is also a mother of three human children, says the family was facing the decision to put Peetie down before she found out about Steiner’s acupuncture treatments. Beers’ youngest son, who is 9, never saw Peetie’s playful puppy days, but after an acupuncture treatment, Beers reports the two playing together with unprecedented energy.
“One of the first things I noticed was that she was able to tuck her legs under again,” said Beers.
As Peetie receives her treatment, her hind legs are sprawled out behind her. With the treatment, Beers said, she’s good for about a month before she starts to show her age again.
“Acupuncture has really given her some of her ‘puppy’ back,” she said. “She wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for acupuncture.”
As the doctor begins to gently slide a series of very fine needles into Peetie’s body, Devine helps distract the animal with treats and attention.
Dr. Steiner slips the first needle into Peetie’s head, explaining that this is a “permission needle” that prepares the body for the dozens to come.
“Most of the patients that have come to me are more of the geriatric type,” Steiner said. “They need muscle and skeleton support.”
Acupuncture treatment is based around ancient, metaphysical Chinese theories involving the “qi,” an energy that balances the yin and the yang, flowing through various “meridians” throughout the body. The treatments are supposed to restore a balance that’s been lost.
Steiner talks a lot about these “meridians,” pointing out that, with Peetie, she focuses the water meridian. If all this seems a little hocus-pocus, there’s at least value in the results.
“I noticed an immediate difference even after the first treatment,” Beers reports.
Even as they leave the office, Peetie shows noticeable signs of curiosity as she frolics through a patch of grass behind the building.
Steiner also performs the treatment on cats, but admits they’re a little less agreeable.
Later, Steiner will perform a similar acupuncture treatment on a dachshund whose slipped disc may land him in a cart. After a few treatments, that dog’s begun wagging his tail again.