Local vet offers acupuncture, chiropractic care for pets
By Casey Toner email@example.com February 4, 2012 12:22AM
Mary Collopy, a technician at Chicago Animal Rehab in Chicago Ridge, looks on as a dog goes through some underwater treadmill exercises at the center. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 6, 2012 8:19AM
Six-year-old Bogart is stretched out across a veterinarian’s table, tongue wagging, as 12 electric acupuncture needles send 4.5 volts of electricity coursing through his body.
Bogart is a fluffy chow mix that Flossmoor resident Rhonda Aronson affectionately calls her baby. She’s been taking him to Evergreen Park veterinarian Joe Whalen since the dog injured a disc in its spine on Christmas Eve.
Aronson said Bogart was playing with a Labrador retriever at a family friend’s house when the two dogs slipped on a rug and the other dog fell on him. Bogart couldn’t get up.
“We were a mess,” she said. “He’s our baby. We didn’t now if he’d recover or walk again.”
A Northbrook dog neurologist ruled out surgery but referred Aronson to Whalen, owner of LePar Animal Hospital in Evergreen Park. Whalen gives dog and cat acupuncture and chiropractic treatments at Chicago Animal Rehab, 10051 Kitty Ave., Chicago Ridge.
Bogart can now walk again and is expected to make a full recovery. Strength is slowly returning to its left leg, although its left paw is still partially lame.
“It’s comical and heartbreaking at the same time,” Aronson said. “I want to see him be able to go up the stairs and chase rabbits and everything.”
Whalen studied animal acupuncture six years ago and animal chiropractic 11 years ago at the Chi Institute in Florida. Claiming to be one of the only regional veterinarians to provide the service, Whalen counts his clients in the hundreds.
“It’s becoming more popular but it’s not as popular as it should be,” Whalen said. “There’s some resistance to the unknown.”
Whalen said the electrified acupuncture needles work as pain killers, releasing endorphins and enkephalins, the body’s natural morphine and aspirin. The needles also help stimulate the dog’s nervous system to help it regain feeling in its legs.
It costs $88 per acupuncture treatment and $57 per chiropractic treatment, where Whalen uses his hands to make adjustments in the animal’s body.
“I feel each vertebrae at two angles,” Whalen said. “If there’s a restriction in movement, I make the adjustment.”
Janet Bender, of Chicago’s Midway area, is taking her mastiff through Whalen’s chiropractic and acupuncture treatments as well as underwater treadmill therapy.
During underwater treadmill therapy, Bender’s dog, Lady, stands in the water chamber, which fills up a little past Lady’s legs, and she runs on the treadmill. The water gives her legs extra support to help strengthen and revive weaker muscles.
Whalen performed surgery on the dog in August, implanting titanium into the knee of the animal, which has since lost 20 pounds.
Bender said Whalen’s treatments have Lady moving around again, which she never thought would happen. It’s a price she is willing to pay.
“It was an investment but I’d do it all over again,” Bender said.