FARMINGTON — Beth Davis, a chiropractor who works on dogs and people, massaged the back of an 8-year-old yellow Labrador named Hazel.
Hazel suffers from arthritis. In a veterinarian office last Thursday, Davis adjusted Hazel's back to relieve built up pressure.
"I really love what I do," said Davis, one of the few chiropractors in the Farmington area who works on dogs.
Valoree Althoff, Hazel's owner, said she sought out a chiropractor because she regularly uses a chiropractor and thought it might help Hazel.
Hazel takes 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine for pain, Althoff said. Since Hazel visited Davis, Althoff said the result is "night and day."
Hazel would cry through the night and was lethargic during the days. And since the visit last week, Hazel is more active, she said. Althoff said she plans to bring her to see Davis again.
"(Hazel) was 100 times better, and her attitude very playful. She didn't act like she was in pain anymore," Althoff said.
Davis is among a small handful of practitioners who offer health procedures rooted in Eastern medical techniques that treat pressure and trigger points to relieve bodily ailments.
Jennifer Bracken, a veterinarian at Animal Haven, said she practices acupuncture on pets, including horses.
She said many of the pet owners who try "complementary" practices for their pets have already tried commonly prescribed treatments.
"They've tried everything else," she said in a phone interview on Monday.
Bracken is cautious about terms and prefers "complementary," to "wholistic" when describing the treatment she offers.
Like Davis, Bracken uses knowledge of trigger and pressure points to treat an animal.
"Nothing is a cure-all for everything," she said, adding that some pets need multiple forms of treatment to recover from an ailment. And that doesn't always include alternative treatments.
She said a dog was brought to her for acupuncture services, but when she realized the dog needed surgery to repair a torn ligament, she recommended surgery and didn't use acupuncture.
Davis said it's important for pets to have a veterinarian exam. Most of her referrals come from area vets, she said.
According to New Mexico state law, chiropractic, acupuncture and physical therapy on an animal must be performed with the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
Davis said she adheres to the law and practices only on dogs, though chiropractic services are available for other animals.
Bracken said, in Texas, there are debates about whether to license non-veterinarian professionals to treat animals. But in New Mexico, she said, the usage of alternative practices for pets seems to be accepted.
"I haven't had any issues, I haven't had anyone say that to my face and called me a quack," she said.
Davis said she has been using chiropractic treatment for dogs since 1982, the same year she started practicing on people.
Davis said she takes the same basic approach for her practice at Sunrise Chiropractic, and that has yielded positive results.
Gloria Sanisya Blue Eyes, 46, of Shiprock, suffers from Morton's neuroma, a foot condition where the tissue thickens at the nerve endings causing sharp pain.
Blue Eyes said the condition is the result of an injury she received while she was enlisted in the Army in 1995. Since then, she has had six surgeries to reduce the pain in her foot.
"It's painful — it's really painful," she said.
"I used to be all tense," she said, demonstrating by stiffening her shoulders. She said the treatments have eliminated some of that tension.Erny Zah is The Daily Times business editor. He can be reached at 505-564-4638. and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @ernyzah on Twitter.