Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a Los Angeles-based holistic veterinarian and practitioner of acupuncture for animals, knows what it’s like to have a pet with a life-threatening illness. His Welsh terrier, Cardiff, suffers from Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA), a condition where an animal’s immune system attacks the body’s red blood cells.
Although Cardiff’s illness has been difficult to deal with, his dad has never lost hope. Instead, he’s dedicated his veterinary practice to using a combination of Western and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in order to develop treatment plans to help dogs with all kinds of ailments. He also documents Cardiff’s unique medical regimen on his blog, so pet parents with suffering animals can find a source of hope and support.
We caught up with Dr. Mahaney to talk with him about his use of acupuncture and other holistic medical practices, and how this unique treatment can help make strides towards a cure for canine cancer.
AF: You’re well-known for your use of acupuncture in treating sick dogs. Can you tell us a little more about this procedure?
PM: Acupuncture is great for dogs for a variety of reasons, especially pain management. It helps relieve inflammation, increase blood flow, and it produces pain-relieving neurotransmitters. It can really help improve a dog’s overall well-being, but only if performed by an experienced, trained veterinarian.
AF: What illnesses can acupuncture help treat?
PM: Everything from diarrhea to seizures, anxiety – even cancer.
AF: How can it help in the treatment and prevention of cancer?
PM: There are theories that posit that inflammation is associated with the development of cancer, so we can use acupuncture to treat inflammation in specific parts of the body with the hopes that this will prevent the emergence or slow the development of a cancer in that area.
AF: So, when a dog is diagnosed with cancer, how often should they receive acupuncture treatments?
PM: I typically recommend treatment in seven-day intervals for 3-4 weeks, to see how the animal reacts.
AF: Is it safe to give your pet acupuncture treatments in addition to traditional medical procedures like surgery and chemotherapy?
PM: Yes, but it’s important to take those other factors into consideration. We have to make sure that acupuncture is complimenting any other treatments.
AF: Some people think that acupuncture can contribute to the spreading of cancer cells. What do you have to say to critics of the procedure?
PM: Well, we try to make sure never to put a needle directly into a tumor. Acupuncture does increase blood flow, which might make the tumor increase in size, but it also brings in oxygen, anti-oxidants, and cancer-fighting cells. If your animal is also receiving chemotherapy, acupuncture can help get the chemo directly to the tumor, so it’s more effective.
AF: Do you believe that chemotherapy is the right treatment for dogs with cancer?
PM: There is proven evidence that chemo is effective at treating cancer, but it might not be appropriate for every dog. The proper treatment plan will always be specifically tailored to the individual patient.
AF: Approximately 50% of America’s dogs are diagnosed with cancer – why do you think this number is so high?
PM: There are a lot of environmental factors; the world we live in is so toxic. The air your pet breathes, their food, treats, and drinking water – all of these could contain toxins that could contribute to the development of cancer. Cleaning products and pet-grade foods are major sources of carcinogens.
AF: Can you tell us more about the dangers of pet-grade foods?
PM: Pet-grade foods often contain ingredients not fit for human consumption, so why would you feed it to your companion animal? Most of these mass-produced foods contain plastics, Styrofoam, even the barbiturates used for animal euthanization. The grains used in pet-grade food also allow for mold-based toxins like afultux, which can make animals very sick. If you’re feeding your pet these kinds of commercial products, you could be contributing to the development of cancer on a day to day basis.
Even though today’s world can be incredibly dangerous for animals, there are ways to prevent and effectively treat canine cancer. In addition to holistic and acupuncture treatments, Dr. Mahaney recommends a diet based on the warming, cooling, and neutralizing properties of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. To learn more about his approach, or to schedule a home or office visit for your pet, visit his website at www.patrickmahaney.com