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Why Doggy Acupuncture Works - Meet Veterinary Surgeon Dr Marvin Firth

This week we were delighted to catch up with Veterinary Surgeon Dr Marvin J.Firth BVSc (Hons.), MRCVS on the launch of the first regular London clinic for dogs specialising in chiropractic and acupuncture. Research has focused on the pain relieving effects of acupuncture from internal release of the body’s own painkillers. It has also been shown that acupuncture can be used in a variety of internal medical disorders such as respiratory, reproductive or digestive disease. Due to a strong internal nervous structure of the dog (known as the limbic system - i'm now fully informed thanks to Marvin's great website) canine patients often respond very well to the effects of acupuncture....

Not only has Marvin built an international reputation for his canine and equine services, he is the official Veterinary Surgeon for Polo on the Beach and often undertakes charity work and promotion for equine and canine causes....we just had to find out more (oh and did we mention he's super down to earth too - *swoon*!)

Dr Marvin Firth

Marvin, we'd love to know a bit more about yourself and your new clinic...

I am a veterinary surgeon and have been in first opinion, referral and academic practice since graduating with honours and distinction from Liverpool Veterinary School. I grew up in Cornwall around animals and my parents were involved in different areas of medicine and I always wanted to work to helping people and animals. I have worked to become internationally approved in veterinary chiropractic and perform acupuncture as well as practicing traditional medicine to give an overall improved outcome to veterinary health and welfare

What makes it unique and different from anything else?

This is the first regular London clinic for dog's (and the occasional cat) that specialises in providing chiropractic and acupuncture to improve mobility, comfort and performance

So what prompted you to set up the new clinic?

I offer a similar service in horses and more and more people were asking if I could treat their dogs. In getting my international status I trained and was examined to the highest standards assessing and treating dogs. The response has been brilliant and success with cases excellent. Word soon spread to some of the top practices in London who asked me if I would consider practicing here in London and it has gone from there over the last year. 

How does the acupuncture work and when would you recommend it being used and for how long?

So I tend to use chiropractic and acupuncture in conjunction with one another and after a thorough assessment of the animal's history and consultation with their owner. The Chinese believe in maintaining the correct balance (Ying and Yang) of the animal and points on the body are selected for needling. I tend to assess the animal with a Western approach to finding areas of muscular tension or discomfort and mobilise the spine and follow with needling selected points. The combination seems to work very well for a whole host of patients from young to old. 

Wherever there has been reduced mobility or pain we use the combination of treatments. Post surgery or with lameness or old age all can benefit. Acupuncture has also been used medically for condition such as allergies and gastrointestinal problems. Chiropractic can also be used to assist with medical conditions such as excessive limb licking and incontinence. 

Acupuncture for dogs

Can you tell us how you've seen acupuncture improve the lives of dogs and horses in your care...

So the best cases are those that have difficulty mobilising and after some treatment have been able to get around the house, into the car or up the stairs more easily. One small terrier was actually able to move its back legs after adjusting its neck...this was after the first session and had been paraplegic for nearly a week! This was the most remarkable treatment I have had. 

We also use the same form of consultations on horses and aid performance in some of the world's best animals - competing internationally and up to Olympic standard such as the benefit of chiropractic and acupuncture has been to these animals when traditional medicines couldn't be used due to competition rules. 

How do the dogs react to your treatment- do you see certain breeds more often?

They love it! You often see them leaning into my to have their backs strained and even the most painful seem to realise you are assisting after a couple of adjustments. We often see them calm and with treatments like the acupuncture which can see a cumulative effect, animals often rest or sleep whilst the treatment is being performed. This is especially noticeable when they are in the comfort of their own home (home visits are often performed).

Acupuncture for Dachshunds

Wow - the results sound incredible but whats the most challenging part of your job?

Logistics and fitting things in! I now work internationally and also love to assist charities such as the Dogs Trust and teach where I can. I now assist with teaching of chiropractic and examine for the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association. Plus making sure I am as organised as possible!

...and the most rewarding part?

Hearing of the success and improved quality of life with all the patients I see and treat. It is brilliant to see animals looking far more comfortable and happy on the repeat appointments!

So do you find the time to teach others?

I do assist in teaching other veterinary surgeons in Germany and part of my aim is to make more vets in the UK aware that the service is available and the benefits it can bring. Often insured pets can claim the treatments if referred by their primary veterinary surgeon. 

Lastly, we'd love to know a bit more about the charity work that you do, we've just heard you've been made an ambassador for the Dogs Trust (congrats!)...

It is really great to be asked to be involved with dynamic charities such as the Dogs Trust. I have been able to help out with some of their events and London dog shows and work to try and promote their work to the public. I am part of their philanthropy board working toward developing initiatives to help even more dogs in the UK and abroad. 
I am the official veterinary surgeon to Polo on the Beach which runs in Cornwall and is a fantastic event where the public can indulge in the spectacular site of athletic polo ponies on the fantastic Watergate Bay; right next to the sea! 

Sounds amazing, we'll definitely have to give it a visit! 

Thank you so much Marvin, your work is truly inspiring and you are without a doubt a key 'go to' in our little Black Book for horse and hound! If you'd like to find out more or to book an appointment @ the Belgravia or Truro clinics, visit County Equine. You can also follow Marvin on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Dr Marvin Firth BVSc (Hons.), MRCVS

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