TIPP CITY — In an effort to provide more options for care to her patients, Dr. Johnna Smith took up animal acupuncture — something she is excited to offer pets in the Tipp City area at her new practice.
The Eaton native, who had never considered being anything but a veterinarian, graduated from The Ohio State University in 2005 with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science and again with her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2009.
She began practicing from the office of Dr. Martin English, 1470 W. Main St. in Tipp City, this month. English will continue to provide traditional healthcare to his patients, but he wanted to help Smith get her practice started as another veterinarian did for him 36 years ago.
Smith first heard of animal acupuncture when a greyhound she had in college began having seizures, but he passed away before they could try it.
She practiced traditional medicine for a few years after graduation, but the idea of alternative medicine stuck with her.
“The seed was planted,” Smith said. “I got out of school, practiced traditional medicine for about four years and decided that there had to be something else.”
Smith grew frustrated with cases that she couldn’t help with traditional medicine alone.
“Like older, geriatric dogs with arthritis, but also with liver disease. So anti-inflammatories to make them less painful were causing further damage to the liver and I didn’t want to have to pick between the lesser of the two evils,” Smith said. “I hated telling people, ‘Your dog’s going to be able to walk, but I’m going to shorten his life because his liver’s going to be damaged.’”
She decided to pursue acupuncture, taking courses and traveling to Florida for training. In 2012 she became a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist through The Chi Institute in Florida. She followed that up by earning an advanced certification in Chinese Herbal Medicine from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 2016.
“I 100 percent believe in traditional medicine, I just think this stuff can augment what we do with traditional medicine. They work so well together,” Smith said.
Acupuncture works by manipulating blood flow, she explained. The acupuncture needles are placed just under the skin to stimulate areas that are rich in blood vessels. When those areas are stimulated by the needle, blood vessels will either fill with blood or constrict to push it away.
“The Chinese believe in a thing called chi — it’s our life force, it’s what separates us from rocks. And so the chi and blood go hand in hand,” Smith explained. “When you move blood, you move chi and when they’re in balance, disease has a harder time existing.”
Both acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be used to treat a wide variety of illnesses and injuries, including chronic pain, allergies, arthritis, seizures and liver and kidney disease.
Acupuncture also helps the body release serotonin and endorphins, which relieve pain, she said.
“For the next couple of days, she’ll be jumping up and down,” client Leib Lurie said as Smith placed needles along his dog’s spine and hips.
Lurie said the treatment helps Ivy, a 14-year-old rescue, keep up with her busy schedule. Ivy accompanies Lurie just about everywhere, from work to the gym. She’s an experienced reading dog, helping nervous readers gain confidence reading aloud, and has been known to visit hospitals and senior centers.
Ivy, who was hit by a car about eight weeks ago, has been receiving acupuncture treatments for several years and only reacted when Smith placed needles around the leg that was dislocated in her accident.
“She usually falls asleep and starts snoring,” Smith said.
For Smith, incorporating alternative treatments with traditional care is all about improving an animal’s quality of life.
“My number one goal is quality of life,” she said. “I want great quality of life for all our pets as long as we can possibly have it.”
Smith is accepting new patients for both traditional and alternative healthcare, and referrals for acupuncture and herbal treatment only.
As she establishes her practice, Smith will be available on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and Friday mornings. She will have full day office hours every third Saturday.
For more information, call (937) 667-3217 or find her on Facebook at Dr. Jo’s Pet Wellness and Acupuncture.
Reach Cecilia Fox at email@example.com.