Integrative Veterinary Medicine
Our integrative approach to veterinary treatment incorporates both Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) and western medicine. The most common form of TCVM is Acupuncture.
Acupuncture is the insertion of small sterilized needles into specific points (acupoints) to treat imbalances or disease in the body. There are 361 acupoints in most animals. Acupoints are areas where there is a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles, or lymphatic vessels. Each point has a specific action to help the body heal itself. The acupoints are chosen based on a thorough physical exam and a Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis. Acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood flow, relieve muscle spasms, and release beta-endorphins and serotonin.
Numerous studies indicate that acupuncture induces the following effects:
- Pain relief
- Regulation of gastrointestinal motility
- Anti-inflammatory effect
- Hormone and reproductive regulation
- Anti-febrile effect
- Circulation and nerve promotion
Acupuncture helps balances the body, and a balanced body will naturally heal itself.
Conditions That Can Be Treated With Veterinary Acupuncture
- Joint pain
- Muscle soreness
- Post-surgical pain
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Intervertebral disc disease
- Nerve paralysis
- Peripheral nerve disease
- Urinary & fecal incontinence
- Vestibular problems
- Abdominal pain
- Gastric ulcers
- Gastrointestinal stasis
- Poor appetite
Other Chronic Conditions
- Behavioral problems
- Eye problems
- Geriatric weakness
- Heart disease
- Immune disorders
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Skin problems
What to Expect
As a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA), Dr. Pence administers the safest acupuncture procedures. The needles are very small, and most pets do not even realize the needles are being placed. Some may even fall asleep during treatment! Each session lasts about 30-45 minutes. During the first 10-15 minutes, your pet’s health is assessed, along with a medical and behavioral history, TCVM exam, and a full physical exam. The following 20-30 minutes is dedicated to needle placement and treatment time.
The number of acupuncture treatments (or other advanced procedures) needed depends on the condition being managed. A single treatment may be enough for minor, acute conditions. Weekly to every 2-3 week sessions may be needed to resolve more long term issues. However, some chronic conditions may need lifelong management. A pet will typically be mildly lethargic or drowsy for 24–48 hours after an acupuncture session.
Advanced Integrative Procedures
Tui-na (“twee-na”) is a branch of TCVM combining acupressure, conventional massage, and chiropractic therapy to regulate imbalances in the body. “Tui-na” means to push and lift. This hands-on therapy soothes aching muscles and joints, relaxes strained tendons and ligaments, and also promotes the circulation of Qi (energy) and blood. It is most commonly used to treat acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions, as well as to strengthen the immune system. Many treatments can also be prescribed for owners to do at home!
To stimulate acupoints for a longer duration, Dr. Pence may inject supportive liquids that include saline, vitamin B12, or chondroprotectants. This is referred to as aquapuncture. The liquid exerts an energetic change by pushing tissue out of the way and continuing to stimulate the acupoints.
E-stim is used to push an electrical current into the body between needles inserted in acupoints. E-stim relaxes spasming muscles and can aid the body in re-establishing nervous impulses when nerve damage has occurred. E-Stim can also enhance and increase the stimulation of the needles in the acupoints.
Laser therapy is the application of infrared light at specific wavelengths to stimulate damaged cells to heal faster. It also has the added benefit of increasing circulation to the damaged tissue. Laser therapy is best used for painful, inflammatory conditions, as well as wound healing. The Class IV laser used at Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana is cool, and does not generate enough significant heat to burn. Dr. Pence may also use cold laser therapy to perform “needle-less” acupuncture treatments, especially on patients that do not readily tolerate needle insertion.
Dr. Rich is winner of the Oxbow Exotic Mammal Health Award, lecturer at many Exotic veterinary conferences, and deeply involved in local area projects. Twenty years have passed and in that time I cannot begin to count the number of rabbits treated there, all with the best of care. My job as a rescuer of rabbits has been made easier with the support of Dr. Rich, Dr. Pence and the Staff.
I have been dealing with the Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana (formerly West Esplanade Veterinary Clinic), Dr. Rich and Dr. Pence, since 2006. They are the premier exotics only vet in the Gulf South and one of a small handful that are experienced with chinchillas. Every chinchilla surrendered to us is taken there for a comprehensive wellness check-up. Many have been treated for a variety of conditions, both minor and serious. After having more than 100 chinchillas seen there, I could not be more pleased with the competency, courtesy and caring exhibited by everyone there. Many of our animals are enjoying happier and healthier lives because of Dr. Rich and Dr. Pence.
Tom and Tracey L.
We have been breeders of exotic parrots since 1998. Dr. Rich and staff are our first and only stop to make sure the breeders we buy are healthy. The professionalism of Dr. Rich and his staff far exceed our expectations. Regardless the outcome of the exam we know we can trust the results and advice given by Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana (formerly West Esplanade Veterinary Clinic). The clinic is always clean and the staff friendly. We highly recommend all clients set up an appointment to meet Dr. Rich and/or Dr. Pence. Don’t wait until it’s an emergency. Well visits are very important to maintain healthy happy animals. We are very fortunate to have such well respected, professional and caring exotic veterinarians in our area.
Ashley G., DVM
Dr. Rich is the avian expert! The clinic is state of the art, the boarding facility has large, clean cages and the team is very caring. It's with great confidence that I refer my avian patients to Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana (formerly West Esplanade Veterinary Clinic).
Karen and Steve M.
My family and I have been associated with Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana (formerly West Esplanade Veterinary Clinic) for 14 years now. Dr. Rich has received countless awards for his many accomplishments. He is forward-thinking; always in touch with the latest technology and procedures. His leading edge approach has kept my exotic pets healthy and happy!
Maurice G. and Brenda B.
In June 2013 we opened Bon Temps Ferret Rescue and shortly after contacted Dr. Rich at Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital of Louisiana (formerly West Esplanade Veterinary Clinic). Living almost three hours away, we had questions before making the trip with some of our little ones rescued from various situations. Dr. Rich, Dr. Pence and their staff have taken time to return our calls regardless of what day of the week. We have brought in ferrets with varying degrees of medical needs and have always been served in the most professional and caring manner, not only for the ferrets but for us as well in some critical times."