When veterinarian Dr. Alyssa Erlandson visited Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud, students in the veterinary technology program quickly got the point that acupuncture isn’t just for humans anymore.
Erlandson is certified in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) and acupuncture and practices at the Camden Pet Hospital in Minneapolis.
She explained to the students that acupuncture is a great treatment for pets because “it can be effectively used as the sole treatment or incorporated into a care plan without the worry of drug interactions or complications.”Erlandson stressed to the students how important the vet tech role can be in TCVM. “Because veterinary technicians have such an important role in client education, it is important that they are familiar with acupuncture and other aspects of TCVM. Clients will have questions and will turn to their technicians to get them answered. If technicians are comfortable with TCVM, they will be able to help their clients become comfortable with it as well.”
Executive Veterinary Technology Program Chair Holly Gazett agrees. “Clients are interested in other forms of treatment, and we want our students to be educated on these options so they have a wide perspective on everything that is offered in our profession. This is also an opportunity for our students to become more versatile.”
Erlandson demonstrated acupuncture techniques on her own pet, Ripken, a 12-year-old Border Collie with arthritis who remained calm throughout the entire procedure.
Vet tech student Tyler Gemuenden assisted Erlandson and commented that he wasn’t surprised the dog remained calm since it was the veterinarian’s own pet, but suspected a first-time patient might not be quite as cooperative.
Acupuncture may be seen as merely a trend in veterinary medicine, but Erlandson points out that the therapy is actually thousands of years old. Its availability in vet clinics has increased steadily in the past two decades and, she says, “Acupuncture and other alternative therapies are becoming the norm as people are seeking a more holistic approach for their pets’ and their own health care.”
With its uses ranging from pain relief to incontinence issues, pet owners may be well-advised to seek out acupuncture for their animals. However, Erlandson clarifies, she does not see TCVM as superior to conventional medicine.
“[It’s] simply another important tool in my tool box.”
Ripken appears to enjoy the fix.