When Paula Bedford first met Rainbow, the Papillon pup had a slipped disc pushing on her spinal cord, paralyzing her legs.

She’d been taken to traditional veterinarians and been treated with a variety of medications but her condition didn’t improve until Bedford started acupuncture.

“I wasn’t sure if she was going to respond but decided to take her home and see what we could do,” said the certified veterinary acupuncturist.

“We got her fully walking in six weeks.”

Now Bedford teaches about the technique and a number of other alternative medicines for animals to her students in the Animal Health Technology program at Douglas College in Vancouver.

Bedford became interested in veterinary acupuncture after repeatedly finding herself stumped by cases like Rainbow’s, where the only option left would have been expensive surgery.

“It’s another tool that we can use and we can combine (with traditional methods) to get another outcome,” she said.

The licensed veterinarian and instructor wants her students to be aware of the variety of treatment methods out there as techniques like acupuncture gain in popularity across the country.

“There aren’t very many of us who have done the certification so it can be difficult to find someone certified and then there are people who haven’t necessarily done the certification who offer acupuncture,” she said.

Similar to human medicine, you have to be careful about who you’re entrusting to provide that service for you and you should check into their credentials, she said.

The alternative medicine course Bedford teaches at Douglas College includes information about herbal medicine, both eastern and western, homeopathy and nutraceuticals in addition to veterinary acupuncture.