Lake Norman & Mooresville

Acupuncture goes to the dogs

A few weeks ago, I was having my hair cut by my hairdresser in Cornelius, Dodie LeFevre. She talked about the feral cats she cares for, and how they like to walk by her window and watch her work.

My conversation was about my two dogs and three ferrets, and how all five of them keep me entertained. Our discussion eventually went to my animals' medical conditions, since both my dogs are more than 10 years old, and one ferret is 5 (middle-aged for a ferret). Dodie then told me about her friend whose dogs have undergone a unique medical treatment, and I had to call the friend and find out more.

Stacy Barnett is the dog-mom of two Labradors, both older than 10 years. Unfortunately, Trevor, her 12-year-old black Lab, has rear limb degenerative disease. As a result, Trevor could have eventually lost his ability to walk, as his spine could not hold up his weight.

Barnett considers her dog part of her family, so she could not let Trevor suffer, and traditional medicine wasn't working. She searched for a way to help.

Through another vet, Barnett found Dr. Heidi Hutmaker, who performs acupuncture at Steele Creek Animal Hospital. Despite the long drive from the north side of Mecklenburg County to the south side, Barnett says it is worth it for her dog.

In fact, acupuncture worked so well for Trevor that Barnett's 13-year-old yellow Lab, Angel, is also having acupuncture treatments for her stomach. Barnett said Angel had been in so much pain that she had barely slept for a week. When the doctor put needles in Angel's side, the dog went to sleep – and was so relaxed and content that Barnett had to wake her up to get her back to the car.

Barnett said Dr. Hutmaker's “devotion is extraordinary. Not only does she listen to pet owners, but she's sensitive to the pet.”

Dr. Hutmaker explained that a demonstration she saw in veterinary school showed her the power of acupuncture. A classmate's female Lab, a 9-year-old dog, had hip dysplasia and had been on pain medication since about age 3. After only one acupuncture treatment, the dog jumped in the car for the ride home. This dog had not jumped at all for many years.

In fact, friends who, from a distance, saw the dog playing in the park thought the owner had a new dog.

For more information on veterinary acupuncture for your animal, you can call Steele Creek Animal Hospital at 704-588-4400.