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People Encouraging Turtle Agony*

Lest anyone think I am a heartless bastard, I would like it to be known that I do not like to see any creature suffer or die. I am the kind of person who, when finding a spider in the house, is likely to catch it and toss it outside. I always think, “I can’t squish the end result of 6 billion years of evolution”. Except mosquitoes. Those I squish with glee. Infection vectors can die die die die.

I like animals and hate to see them suffer unnecessarily. Like sticking them with needles. Frontal lobes are nice to have. They can let you know that pain is coming and provide preparation and compensation. Once I had a steel bar smack me on the head, opening up a six-inch cut to the bone. No, my brain was not affected, thank you very much. Everything predates the head trauma. When the ER doc numbed the scalp for sutures, he missed the last half-inch and I felt the needle. Knowing what was going on I steeled myself and let him do the last two sutures with no lidocaine, since the needle hurt only a little worse than the lidocaine injection. I have had many other unpleasant medical procedures in my 56 years but knowing what was coming and understanding why makes it easier to tolerate a needle popping into the knee joint or an abdominal drain being pulled.

Animals, and young humans, lack the ability to comprehend the what and why of pain inflicted as part of medicine. Adults can make a conscious decision to be endure pain and fool themselves into thinking it is of benefit. No pain, no gain. Animals can make no such choice.

For example consider sea turtles, who, apparently, are subjected to all sorts of nonsense at the New England Aquarium including acupuncture and laser therapy. As is obvious, I am no veterinarian, the only animal of which I have any understanding of anatomy and physiology is a human, but even with that background it is remarkable what is reported from New England. I used to say the ‘B’ students went into journalism; given the credulous reporting perhaps the standards have been lowered. They certainly have for marine biologists and veterinarians, who are evidently shortchanged in their education.

Several hundred sea turtles were washed ashore in New England after a severe storm. Hypothermic, injured, infected and malnourished, they were transferred to the New England Aquarium for care. It sounds like the animals were quite ill.

Some animals were not getting better rapidly enough with conventional medicine. Conventional medicine: based on known reality. The application of physiology, biochemistry, anatomy, epidemiology, etc to disease that has led to astounding increases in life expectancy and relief from innumerable diseases that plagued humankind.

So they decided to inflict a pair of fantasy based, I mean alternative, therapies on some of the turtles. Alternative: not based on physiology, biochemistry, anatomy, epidemiology, and has never had an impact on any important disease, ever.

At first I read the headline (with the obligatory pun) ”Slow pokes: Acupuncture helps hypothermic turtles” as the acupuncture was being used to help hypothermia, which made me laugh. Turtle thermoregulation is complex but just moving them from the cold sea to a warm lab should raise their temperature. But then I realized I misinterpreted the headline. Acupuncture was being used as ineffective therapy for conditions other than hypothermia.

To summarize acupuncture, a topic discussed at length in this blog, its basic principles, those of meridians and chi, are fictional. I tried to find a meridian map of turtles and failed. I found a pig, a cat, a dog, a cow and a horse diagram, but no turtle. Not that it matters, since the meridians are fantasy. The horse, which has no gallbladder, does have a gallbladder meridian, although it conveniently has nothing to do with the gallbladder:

Although the horse does not have a gall bladder organ as such, the meridian is the same as in the human, and it has a lot to do with the integrity of ligaments especially in the hips and pelvis.

Like I said. Fantasy anatomy and physiology.

I note again that on every human and animal acupuncture map there are no meridians or puncture points in the genitalia. Ironically no important life energy runs through the reproductive organs, perhaps explaining why there is no acupuncture-based (or alternative therapy of any kind for that matter) birth control, although a few needles in the genitalia could certainly have a negative effect on reproduction.

Acupuncture does not have any effect on physiological processes outside of those that determine perception. It doesn’t matter where you put the needles, or even if you use needles. Twirled toothpicks have the same effect. Acupuncture only has effects on subjective outcomes and only then if the receiver is a believer and thinks they are receiving acupuncture. I am always amused by those who note sticking a needle into flesh yields a pain response:

The mechanisms underlying pain relief from insertion of needles are unknown, but it has been suggested that it may involve recruitment of the body’s own pain reduction system, possibly attended by an increased release of endorphins, serotonin, norepinephrine, or gamma-aminobutyric acid.

Gee, acupuncture does cause the physiologic effects one would expect from the noxious stimuli of being poked with a needle. Or hitting one’s toe with a hammer.

Acupuncture does not, as the report says,

…reduce stress, increase blood flow and boost the immune system.

Can an animal have a response to a therapy whose entire result is dependent on higher-level cognitive functions that convince the receiver they are improved? The same effect as your mother kissing your injury to make it better? I am, well, skeptical.

In the photographs the turtle looks nonplussed, although they appear to be holding the poor animal so it cannot escape. But then, every turtle in every picture looks nonplussed. Expressive faces are not in the reptilian repertoire. Usually. Not like some dogs who, to my anthropomorphizing eye, do not look happy being stuck with needles.

I am a very ill turtle. Infected, injured, starving. I have been hauled out of my usual environment, taken out of the water, held down on a table by enormous creatures who are sticking me with needles. I would think that the turtle would, in its tiny ‘I don’t want to get eaten’ brain’, be having the turtle equivalent of NONONONONONONONONO I DON’T WANT TO DIE.

But that’s probably just me who thinks perhaps the whole process of worthless needling would only be stressful for the turtle.

The turtle gets combined reality and fantasy based therapies and gets better, the fantasy based therapy gets some of the credit:

Dexter and Fletcher Moon have already had three acupuncture sessions, scheduled once a week, said Merigo, who broke into a broad smile as she described their improvements over the past three weeks.

“These two turtles really had very limited limb use and they weren’t eating. We are seeing improved limb use and improved appetite,” Merigo said. “They are eating on their own, which is fantastic.”

McManus, the acupuncturist, was restrained when describing her reaction to the results.

“It makes me feel very happy,” McManus said. “Acupuncture is not alternative to conventional medicine – they are also receiving Western treatments as well, but the fact that it can work in conjunction with the other treatments they are getting makes me very happy.”

Although the stress of being punctured may have slowed their recovery, it is the usual mistake of crediting effects where there is none.

It was nice that, unlike most acupuncturists, animal and human, the practitioner is using gloves, although everyone appears to wear gloves when handling the turtles.

I am extrapolating from humans and am probably in error when applying what I know to turtles. When humans have severe pneumonia or other severe infectious diseases or trauma, like these turtles, the inflammatory response may be followed by an anti-inflammatory response. A week or two into their hospitalization, a patient may have an increased risk of infection, not only from all the interventions but also because they are at an immune nadir. The greater the initial insult, the greater the subsequent immune dysfunction and risk of infection. Stress is bad.

Take the stress of the initial insult, the infections and malnutrition, being held down and poked with needles and then, with new holes in your hide, being tossed in bacteria-laden salt water. Can’t be good.

Years ago I was sitting in the wards of a hospital in LA when a patient started yelling in pain. The surgeon had ordered sugar for an open wound and the cafeteria had sent up salt by mistake, making the aphorism all too real. I doubt the needles were causing enough damage to the hide to sting when placed back in the salt water, nor to allow the bacteria in the water a chance to find a toe hold (pili hold?) but who can say? Yertle ain’t talking and, like all turtles all the time, looks unfazed.

The preponderance of data suggests that acupuncture effects are almost entirely in the mind of the beholder. The well-designed studies demonstrate that the effects are due almost entirely to bias and are clinically trivial. A placebo effect, the archetype of which was in Penn and Teller’s episode on magnetism. A gutter downspout was bent into the shape of a giant magnet and guess what? The patient had an effect from the fake therapy. That is the basic mechanism of all alternative medicine, including acupuncture.

I went searching the Pubmeds for animal clinical trials of acupuncture and found little, although human trials are animal trials.

Acupuncture being the needling equivalent of faux magnets makes experiments and therapies on animals a little discomforting. There are many animal models for acupuncture and I would wonder if they cross the ethical Rubicon. Is it OK to do studies on animals when the prior plausibility of efficacy is as close to zero as one could want and well-done clinical trials show effects are limited to higher cognitive abilities the animals lack? Is it OK to poke a turtle to induce a marginal placebo effect when it lacks the higher functions to generate such an effect? At some level are not all animal acupuncture studies animal abuse? I wonder.

Animal acupuncture raises other questions: are the rat, dog or turtle meridians the same as humans? If so, why? Genetics? Is the chi same? If so, why? Does a species as evolutionarily removed from humans as a sea turtle have the same response to acupuncture? Does the shell not have any acupuncture sites? If not, why not? It appears from the pictures on the web they only target the soft structures. If human meridians map onto reptiles, are they not missing important sites hidden under the shell, leading to misaligning the energy flow, like only balancing two tires on a car? Of course, asking reality-based questions about acupuncture is like asking about the genetic differences between Orcs, Elves, and Hobbits. It is all fiction.

At some level I can understand trying acupuncture as it has a certain cachet in popular culture, albeit an undeserved one. Most people are not going to wander to the pages of SBM looking for a critical appraisal of acupuncture. But lasers? Really? Laser therapy is nuts, unless you like to get your therapeutic interventions from advertising copy:

When all the results were in it turned out this turtle has a systemic infection. We started treating for the infection but the swelling did not seem to diminish. As we continued the antibiotics we also started using a laser for the edema (swelling) of the joint area.

How does the laser therapy work?
I found this at the Companion Therapy Laser website:

The Companion therapy laser system sends photons, or packets of light energy, deep into tissue without damaging it. These photons are absorbed within the mitochondria of the cells and induce a chemical change called “photo-bio-modulation”. This light energy then inspires production of ATP in the cell. ATP is the fuel, or energy, cells need for repair and rejuvenation. Impaired or injured cells do not make this fuel at an optimal rate. Increased ATP production leads to healthier cells, healthier tissue, and healthier animals.

Show of hands. Does this modified photosynthesis make sense to anyone? I guess the biochemistry of turtles resembles plants more than I suspected. And why did it make sense to the veterinarians at the New England Aquarium?

The closest explanation I could find of this bizarro statement was:

ATP production, according to Kremer’s research, is not based on chemical energy release, as taught in universities today, but rests on the absorption of photons of light from the zero-point quantum medium.

Or for those who prefer their gibberish more science-y:

Biochemistry and medical science have failed to this day to explain the function of the adenine groups of ATP as no biochemical reaction with this adenine ring molecule is shown. However, an understanding can be gained, within the framework of the cell symbiosis concept, from the biophysical attributes of light absorption of the adenine group. All essential components of mitochondrial cell respiration are light absorbing molecules with characteristic “frequency windows” of absorption maxima from nearly UV spectrum to the longer wave yellow/orange spectral range of visible light up to ca. 600nm. Yet the source of the electromagnetic energy is not sunlight. In fact a low frequency pulsating electromagnetic field is induced by the constant flow of uncoupled, paramagnetic aligned electrons in the respiratory organelles. The electromotive power generated by this process is catalytically enormously strengthened by the enzyme complexes of the respiratory chain (acceleration factor1017). This effects an interaction between the electrons and the protons likewise aligned parallel to the induced magnetic field dependent on the strength of the magnetic field between the antiparallel aligned electrons and protons. This process produces a quantum dynamic transfer of information via photon exchange energy. The source of photons is ultimately fluctuations of resonance frequencies of the physical vacuum (zero-point energy field). The transferred information is stored in the spin of the protons that proceed to the ATP synthesis complex via proton gradients. There the resonance information is transferred by a unique rotation system to the adenine group of ATP whose electrons can move freely in the alternating double bonds of the ring molecules. The ATP serves as an “antennae molecule” for the reception and relaying of resonance information from the “morphogenetic background field.” Human symbiosis is consequently not a heat power machine but a light frequency modulated information transforming medium. All the time this cell symbiosis is resonance coupled with the lowest not yet materialized energy status (physical vacuum as inexhaustible “global information pool”).

I suspect the laser they used is not producing a zero-point quantum medium. As to why they further stressed the turtle with useless laser therapy, I cannot say. The internet said it would help, I suppose. In the photos the turtle has the same stoic expression that marks the species, but I can’t imagine that from the turtle perspective the process is any less terrifying than a shark coming at them. Three large animals holding it down, preventing flight or fight and flashing them with a worthless laser.

I just hope the laser unit was donated, as they cost $18,900 to $27,900 depending on the model. My fish would be fried if I was a member of the aquarium and saw that they wasted money on a laser therapy.

I am grateful they saved the turtles but I hope I do not come back as a turtle in the next life. Cold, starving, injured and infected, thrown from the sea, held down to prevent escape then poked with needles and flashed with lasers. Beats dying on the beach, but I hope my caregivers have a little more sense and education.

*I know, a stretch, but I so wanted the acronym PETA.

Posted in: Acupuncture, Basic Science, Energy Medicine, Science and Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Leave a Comment (29) ↓

29 thoughts on “People Encouraging Turtle Agony*

  1. goodnightirene says:

    I’m sure you are aware of our very own SkepVet, Brennen McKenzie, who runs his own, excellent and informative blog. Perhaps he will comment and shed some insight from the turtle perspective.

    Did the article that spawned this even attempt to be “balanced”? Did the reporter even ask anyone who wasn’t already committed to nonsense? This article will do a lot to perpetuate the myth that “acupuncture is the one that works”. It is so often reported in a positive light these days, usually with the additional misrepresentation that it is “proven in studies”, that I despair of even attempting to set the record straight.

    Veterinarian practice seems as hopelessly infiltrated with nonsense as medicine. The media have a lot to answer for in their complicity in this–and the educational system.

    I hope the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will take a skeptical position on this. (Only half joking).

  2. Alia says:

    You’ve touched upon something that really bugs me, Dr Crislip. My cat is suffering from renal failure, to keep her alive we need to give her saline solution – 100ml under skin every four or five days. Now, this is science-based treatment and it works very well (our cat was in terminal condition and this treatment has kept her very much alive for the last 2,5 years). But whenever we have to catch her to give her the solution and she tries to run away, I wonder how the cat feels about it. After all, it is painful and unpleasant, with the big needle piercing the skin. But it does work so well, just looking chasing the red dot, nobody would think she is terminally ill.

    On a side note, about laser therapy. A few years ago I hit my toe. It was painful and swollen, and while I would normally wait for it to get better on its own, I was going on holiday, so I went to see a doctor. He said it wasn’t broken or sprained and prescribed 3 days of laser therapy (up until my holiday). For which I would have to pay, as insurance (fortunately) does not cover it. When I learnt my toe wasn’t broken, I just used regular cold compresses and everything went just fine. At that time I knew nothing about laser therapy, just figured that if there’s really nothing wrong with my toe, I might as well save my money. And now it seems I was right.

  3. windriven says:

    It is with considerable trepidation that I throw down with the pus whisperer on a medical matter. But it is my position that acupuncture indisputably works in the speciescanis vulgaris*, the common dog, though perhaps not in the way acupuncturists would appreciate. My evidence is anecdotal but has confirmed by many observers. When exposed to acupuncturists, dogs are drawn to the promise of all the good things on offer but quickly determine acupuncturists to be bloody-minded charlatans offering much pain and little comfort.

    Any number of dog owners have witnessed the powerful effects of acupuncture when their animal confronts a member of the species erethizon dorsatum, a large rodent. Acupuncture generally accompanies the encounter. Particularly intelligent dogs often respond to a single acupuncture treatment. Others (labs come to mind) require two or more intensive treatments.

    *OK, it is actually canis lupus familiaris but I’m channeling Wiley Coyote.

  4. MTDoc says:

    @windriven

    Labs aren’t the only breed that doesn’t heed the consequences of encounters with porcupines. We had a scotty once that attacked every one he ever ran across. More a sign of determination than lack of intelligence. But then one of the few people he hated was the itinerant meat man.

  5. windriven says:

    @MTDoc

    ” More a sign of determination than lack of intelligence.”

    Agreed! I was going for humor over veracity. My Labs have been big on display and small on bite. I once owned a hobby farm near Poplarville, MS. A neighbor had a huge blue hog that often got loose. My Lab at the time saw the hog and went into full attack mode, charging with all the sound and fury she could muster. As she closed the hog looked up for a moment and went right back to rooting without moving an inch. It was a cartoon moment as the dog slammed on the brakes deciding that smart dogs choose their battles wisely.

    But my dad had a big black male Lab that was clearly related to your Scotty. He couldn’t see a porcupine without having to have a dozen or so quills pulled from his muzzle.

  6. dandover says:

    Son of a @#$! I give these people money. One of the principle reasons I became a member was because I had the impression that this is one of the fun places kids can go and have some exposure to science. Consider my fish fried.

  7. Coot says:

    WTF.

  8. windriven says:

    @dandover

    “I give these people money.”

    I’d wager that other contributors give exactly because the organization is politically correct, kissing all the new age nonsense right on the brown spot. It is all about good karma and not at all about good medicine. If the turtle gets better, all praise acupuncture, singing sword in the hand of Gaia! If the turtle dies, it is a shame they couldn’t rescue it earlier when acupuncture could have turned the tide. Gag me with tortoise shell spoon.

    These clueless morons don’t seem to appreciate that medicine went through a period of embracing beautiful, holistic, natural theories about humors good and vile, leeches and bloodletting and analgesia courtesy of tobacco up the old wazoo. We moved beyond that for a reason. At least some of us did.

  9. Narad says:

    @Alia

    But whenever we have to catch her to give her the solution and she tries to run away, I wonder how the cat feels about it. After all, it is painful and unpleasant, with the big needle piercing the skin.

    I found that mine was quite compliant; whether he eventually made the association between the procedure and feeling better not too long after, as CRF types are wont to assert, I cannot say. (Naturally, it became more frequent.)

  10. annappaa says:

    there is no acupuncture-based (or alternative therapy of any kind for that matter) birth control

    I dunno, some people promote withdrawal and fertility awareness methods as alternatives to those evil chemical contraceptives, which seems to be kind of in that league. (Though I’d take them over acupuncture any day.)

  11. ConspicuousCarl says:

    Excuse me windriven, but his name is Wile E. Coyote.

  12. smd says:

    My dog gets laser treatments for her arthritic hips. I have no idea how or why it works, all I know is that with the treatments (once a month) she walks a hell of a lot better and can way more easily sit down/stand up. We’re talking the difference between making everyone in the room cringe when she she tried to stand up, to now standing up with minimal effort. I fail to see how this could by psychosomatic as she has no idea what’s going on.

  13. DugganSC says:

    @annappa
    Frankly, I think they’re missing a very lucrative market given how many people I know who are wholly ignorant of how conception in general works. Give them a BS method and claim that it’s 70% effective, and it will hit that rate assuming a random incidence of sex (fertility cycles and whatnot). Heck, they had an article recently on “emergency contraceptives” and firmly established that most people asked about it thought that it worked during the period of ovulation (at least as I’ve seen it explained in the more scientific articles, said drug only works in a short period prior to ovulation where there’s a risk of the body saying “Hey, there’s sperm! We should drop an egg early.”).

  14. I certainly agree with Dr. Crislip’s view of acupuncture.

    The so-called Traditional Chinese Medicine theory behind it is mystical nonsense (http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2011/05/traditional-chinese-veterinary-medicine/), and the various ad hoc “scientific” explanations that have been promoted to explain why it should work are inconsistent and not convincingly demonstrated. Sure, sticking needles into living organisms causes all sorts of measurable responses (as does hitting their appendages with a hammer), but this is hardly evidence of a predictable, specific, and clinically relevant effect.

    Acupuncture “points” and “meridians” have never been shown to really exist or to correspond to any plausible anatomic or physiologic organizational system (http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2012/05/acupuncture-points-do-they-exist/). And if you add up all the different points proposed in humans, you don’t get many spots that aren’t claimed by somebody as a point. Then take this house of cards and extrapolate in with pure intuition and guesswork to all sorts of very different animal species, and you do not have a very trustworthy foundation on which to base a therapeutic practice that is supposed to have near magical effects.

    Nevertheless, this hasn’t deterred clinical testing of acupuncture, and as has been discussed here many times, this testing shows it to be no more than a particularly dramatic and compelling placebo in humans, with at most a marginal effect for even the best demonstrated uses. Could this beneficial effect, such as it is, be found in veterinary patients?

    Well, if one sticks with the most common understanding of “placebo” to mean a perceived improvement in symptoms generated by the belief one is receiving an effective therapy, then non-human animals almost certainly don’t experience this “benefit” of acupuncture. But if one looks at all the other ways in which ineffective therapies can generate the false impression of efficacy, there is no doubt veterinary patients and research subjects do experience these “placebo” effects. Improvements in patients in the placebo control groups of veterinary clinical trials are consistently seen.

    Certainly, subjective measures such as pain appear to improve in patients not actually receiving any therapy. This is mostly a function of the “caregiver placebo effect,” recently investigated in a study of dogs with arthritis (Conzemius MG. Evans RB. Caregiver placebo effect for dogs with lameness from osteoarthritis. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2012;241(10):1314-1319.) Owners and veterinarians see improvement where they want and expect to, and since the patient can’t be asked, improvement is often believed to occur whether or not the animals feel any better.

    However, even seemingly objective outcome measures can improve in animals not receiving actual treatment. One study, for example, has identified a decrease in seizure frequency (albeit, as counted by owners), in epileptic dogs on placebo treatment in clinical trials (Muñana KR, Zhang D, Patterson EE. Placebo effect in canine epilepsy trials. J Vet Intern Med. 2010 Jan-Feb;24(1):166-70.) This probably reflects phenomena like regression to the mean, better overall care and adherence to therapy in clinical trial subjects, and all the other biases that affect clinical trial results. Veterinary trials are almost always far smaller and less methodologically rigorous than similar trials in humans, so such bias probably has an even greater effect on their results.

    And there probably are some non-specific effects associated with fundamentally ineffective therapies like acupuncture. Animals bred and raised as companions have significant behavioral and physiologic responses to human contact, so practices like acupuncture and chiropractic can have potentially positive effects having nothing to do with their bogus theoretical rationales. Conversely, phenomena like capture myopathy and other negative responses to human contact are seen in non-domestic species, so it seems very likely that restraining sea turtles to poke them with needles would do more harm than good.

    There are a number of acupuncture studies in veterinary species, which exhibit most of the limitations of such studies in humans, often to an even greater degree. Lack of effective blinding and control groups, other sources of uncontrolled bias and confounding, bait-and-switch practices such as studying “electroacupuncture,” and other such weaknesses make the results of such studies thoroughly unconvincing. (Here are a couple of typical examples: http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2010/06/javma-article-on-electroacupuncture-for-ivdd/ and http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2012/01/acupuncture-vs-opioids-for-surgical-pain-in-dogs-which-is-better/)

    A 2006 systematic review with generous quality criteria found 14 randomized and 17 non-randomized trials with at least some kind of control group. Quality was generally very poor, and even with the most optimistic and “neutral” interpretation (meaning, ignoring the lack of plausibility and the much better quality clinical trial evidence from humans showing acupuncture to be a placebo), the authors could only conclude “is no compelling evidence to recommend or reject acupuncture for any condition in domestic animals.” (Habacher, G., Pittler, M.H., Ernst, E., Effectiveness of acupuncture in veterinary medicine: systematic review. J Vet Int Med May-Jun 2006;20(3):480-8.)

    Personally, I think it is unethical to employ acupuncture in treating veterinary patients. There is no good reason to believe it is beneficial, and significant reason to believe it isn’t. And there is strong evidence that owners and veterinarians are very likely to perceive a benefit where none exists, thus putting animals at risk of not receiving appropriate therapy. In this article, the point was made that the turtles were not denied conventional therapy. At best, then, then were subjected to unnecessary stress in order to perform an almost certainly ineffective therapy on them. However, it is common for acupuncture to be used in a way that does substitute for real care.

    As just one example, I once saw a dog with an osteosarcoma in his leg who was obviously in great pain, not using the leg to walk and crying when it was touched. His owners were pharmacophobic and chose acupuncture, as well as homeopathy and other ineffective therapies, as analgesia instead of real pain medication. These people made this choice based on their own ideology and values, and they were able to justify it in retrospect with classic confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. They were shocked when I suggested the dog was in pain, because it seemed clear to them the acupuncture was working and there was no need for the “toxic” pain control medications I offered them. Such reasoning and rationalization does not strike me as rare in veterinary alternative medicine.

    Using ineffective treatments, especially in lieu of demonstrably effective ones, on animals who cannot clearly identify the nature and intensity of their subjective symptoms or advocate for their own interests, is a failure to fulfill our responsibility as owners and veterinarians to provide appropriate care. Acupuncture likely does no significant good, and it can very easily fool us into underestimating our pets’ discomfort and need for truly effective therapy.

  15. Alia says:

    @Narad
    Well, once we manage to catch the cat (or lure her), she is rather compliant – she never scratches or bites, only tries to wriggle away and complains loudly. Which, taking into consideration her behaviour at the vet’s, is very compliant of her.

  16. windriven says:

    @ConspicuousCarl

    Domo arigato. I should have checked. Your correction prompted me to go to the Wikipedia entry which includes the various faux-Latin names for Wile E. Coyote and the road runner. Funny stuff.

  17. windriven says:

    @ConspicuousCarl

    Domo arigato. I should have checked. Your correction prompted me to go to the Wikipedia entry which includes the various faux-Latin names for Wile E. Coyote and the road runner. Funny stuff.

  18. windriven says:

    @ConspicuousCarl

    Domo arigato. I should have checked. Your correction prompted me to go to the Wikipedia entry which includes the various faux-Latin names for Wile E. Coyote and the road runner. Funny stuff.

  19. windriven says:

    Sorry for the hat trick post. New to iPad.

    @smd

    Please see: http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2010/05/cold-laser-therapy/

  20. Chris says:

    Dr. Crislip:

    Except mosquitoes. Those I squish with glee. Infection vectors can die die die die.

    As someone who has had dengue fever, I share your sentiment.

    I just finished reading The American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby, which is about yellow fever. It starts with the 1878 yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, TN and goes to Cuba and finally to importations of it to the USA in recent years.

  21. polter says:

    On one rotation in veterinary school, I worked with a university clinician who promoted acupuncture for post-surgery patients, especially orthopedic/neuro patients. He still used the same traditional pain control, but offered the acupuncture to owners as a adjunctive therapy at no charge. Most clients were enthusiastic about the “no charge” bit, of course. However, this translated into me, the lowly veterinary student at the time, sitting in the cage with a dog or cat for 30 minutes after he placed the needles and ran away. This always occurred at a time when I had 6 other inpatients and was already late for half their treatments. I imagine that any theoretical benefit of the acupuncture was diminished by my stressed-out pleas of “no no no no please don’t roll over ohhhhhh god no just sit stillllllll!!!” The dogs did not seem react to the placement or removal of the needles, but the one post-ortho surgery cat I had absolutely hated it and each time I had to pull the needles after just a few minutes before the cat acupunctured my face. I doubt that promoted any kind of healing energy.

  22. Chris says:

    I can see why there was only one cat in that sample of pet acupuncture. Obviously for the same reason that a vet tech often wears elbow length leather gloves when dealing with psycho cat. Though last week the mellow cat did acupuncture the vet because he did not like his ears being looked at.

  23. @polter

    Acupuncture is one of the most successful “integrative” therapies infiltrating veterinary academia, despite the near total absence of evidence in vet med and the clear evidence it is a placebo in human studies. There are organized and well-funded advocacy groups pushing this, which makes it especially hard to combat: http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2013/03/american-holistic-veterinary-medical-foundation-gives-10000-to-university-of-tennessee-veterinary-school-to-promote-alternative-medicine/

  24. elburto says:

    Poor turtles. I’ve just lost a darling aquatic friend to illness, and sadly the medication didn’t help him. We had to euthanise him, perhaps I should have tried realigning his chakras?

    @Duggan – Emergency contraception of the traditional type (large dose of an artificial progestin)), not the fairly new varieties (progesterone receptor modulators) work by delaying ovulation.

    Most women ovulate midway through their cycle. The ‘cycle’ bit is the key part of the equation. I’ll lay it out in a cut-down fashion.

    Start of the period is day 1, where the uterus essentially reboots and dumps out the functional layer of the endometrium, after being prompted by the ovaries to do so because no blastocyst has implanted during the previous cycle.

    Once the old stuff’s out the ovaries send out a new signal, “start laying down new endometrium please!”. Once it’s built up the hormonal profile changes slightly, the ovary releases the egg, and the resulting change in hormonal messengers start to make the endometrium soft and fluffy , ready for implantation.

    Then ovulation happens. The egg is only viable for a maximum of 72 hours, so any remen deposited -3/+3 of ovulation could theoretically cause pregnancy, although realistically it’s more likely to only be viable for about 36 hours. That’s why conceiving can be difficult, the timing needs to be right.

    Sperm do not cause ovulation, it’s not an instant process. It takes days and the cyclical release of the necessary chemical messengers to ripen and release an ovum. If the presence of sperm triggered it then they’d die before it matured! Also, there’s one ovulation per cycle, usually from alternate ovaries at roughly day 14 If the egg isn’t fertilised it simply reabsorbs into the body.

    So, if someone has already ovulated then a Plan B type pill can do nothing, the egg’s out of the basket, so to speak.

    Emergency contraception simply delays ovulation by sending a blast of progestin thereby telling the ovaries “It’s not time yet, hold off!”. A similar process is thought to be responsible for delayed ovulation during stressful situations. Most women experience it as a delayed period, as the process that leads to ovulation is what starts the lead-up to menstruation.

    There are suggestions that EC may also thin the endometrium, but not much evidence.

    It also cannot disrupt an existing implantation, to the contrary, a newly implanted pregnancy needs plenty of progesterone to help it.

    @windriven – I had a cartoon black lab. She’d chase cats, but if they turned back toward her she’d screech and run off. She once chased a cat who ran under a transit van. My dog didn’t stop, and being too tall to run under said van, ran into it instead, and knocked herself out.

    I half expected to see cartoon birds flying around her head.

    She also ran into the patio doors a couple of times, and left nose-prints on the glass. She was a brilliant dog.

  25. norrisL says:

    Once again, I am ashamed of some of my veterinary colleagues, not that this is anything new to me. I would love to see a world wide course in critical thinking given to every child.

    I opened the link to the gall bladder horse “vet” and guess what I found at the bottom of her site? “Please send money”

    What the hell for? Because she wants to take a nice cruise on a ship for 3 months every year?

    If anyone here has not seen the website of a lady “”vet”" (inverted commas twice used because this lady is such a complete and utter hyper quack) here is her website

    pawstoheal.com.au I warn you that reading this site may result in multiple vomition. This lady is the current president of the Australian Veterinary Association special interest group on quackery. I have called for her to be forced to stop calling herself a veterinarian or to practise only real veterinary medicine and stop using quackery. I even wrote to my federal member of parliament, sent her website to my member (of parliament) and his strongly worded response (and this man is an ophthalmologist so I would expect some degree of understanding and even agreement with me) was as follows:

    ” Government is usually reluctant to deal with this sort of thing” AND? WHY? get off your well paid backside, shiny pants and do something about it, you are a doctor.

    The Australian Veterinary Association has banned the crediting of continuing veterinary education points for courses in quackery. And yet the clowns who believe in this rot still attend their quack courses. This, of course, means that they need to do the required amount of CVE in addition to their courses in quackery.

    And so endeth my little rant for today

  26. ConspicuousCarl says:

    Maybe turtles are different, but a common stress response for a lot of reptiles is to stop eating. That is mainly known as a response to awkward (for a lizard) environmental conditions (displeasing temperature, ground medium, terrarium size, motion), so maybe minor injury isn’t in the same category. But without evidence pointing the other way, the default guess would be that a reptile would have to resume eating in spite of quack stabbings rather than because of it.

  27. mribar says:

    I thought this website was devoted to science based thinking with sound research being the evidence to back up the ideas. Your reference to evolution in the first paragraph leads me to believe that you do not subscribe to quality science!

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