Acupuncture Helps Man’s Best Friend Heal

NIANTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Her name may be Joy but this six-year-old pup’s life hasn’t always been so happy.

“She was on death row,” said her owner Lori Hatch.

In 2012, Joy was rescued by a group in Louisiana.

“When they pulled her, she was a mess,” Hatch recalled. “She had an infected tail, and she had an injury to her right rear leg that had healed badly. It was externally rotated and it was just causing her a lot of discomfort and pain.”

Unfortunately, Joy’s leg couldn’t be saved, and had to be amputated.

“She was doing quite well when we first got her but I felt with her being a tripod I wanted to give her every option to continue to be healthy for as long as possible,” Hatch said.

“One of the things about having loss of a limb is it puts the rest of the body out of balance,” explained Stephanie Torlone, DVM, a veterinarian in Niantic, Conn. “If their weight bearing gets shifted, it twists their back, it puts uneven loading on their front end, it can cause problems in other places.”

So to keep her one back leg working well, Joy’s new mom Hatch brought her in for some alternative medicine.

Dr. Torlone starts Joy’s sessions with a cold laser.

“It’s light therapy,” Dr. Torlone explained. “It’s invisible light. It penetrates about two centimeters into the soft tissues and it stimulates blood flow.”

Next comes acupuncture.

“What it does is cause a little bit of inflammation in that area which kind of wakes up the body’s normal healing processes,” Dr. Torlone said. “It increases circulation, so you get more blood flow to the area. It increases lymphatic drainage which reduces swelling. It also releases the body’s own healing chemicals, neurotransmitters, endorphins and cephalins, and some of that’s giving you pain control as well.”

The needles are placed along Joy’s meridians; also known in Chinese medicine as the body’s energy highway that provides access to all parts of the body.

“In Joy’s case some of those meridians go along her back or along her sides or even up to her neck or her shoulders, so just because I’m putting the needles somewhere that’s not on the affected leg doesn’t mean I’m not treating that leg,” Dr. Torlone said.

Last year when Joy tore a ligament in her back leg, she began seeing Dr. Torlone more frequently.

“We did the physical therapy for a couple of months and she just didn’t respond to it,” Hatch said.

So far, Joy’s results from the laser and acupuncture have been nothing short of amazing.

“At home I can’t keep her down anymore where when she was in pain she was a complete couch potato,” Hatch said. “She didn’t want to move. She didn’t want to get up to eat. She didn’t want to get up to do anything.”

For Hatch, there’s nothing better than seeing Joy back in full force.

“To have your dog and have it be happy and healthy and active and vibrant, that’s everything,” she said.

Everything for a dog that lives up to her name.

Dr. Torlone also uses herbal medicine to treat animals. She says she typically uses alternative therapies in conjunction with traditional medicine. For more information, visit

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