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By Shawn Messonnier, DVM

In recent years, therapy for dogs using magnets has gained a large following among some pet owners. It is seen as a safe and simple method of treating various disorders, often producing positive results without side effects or much expense. This type of treatment is often used in conjunction or to replace other therapies include traditional medications, surgery, and of course complementary therapies such as acupuncture and herbs. You might ask, does this treatment method really work, and if so, can my dog benefit from magnetic field therapy?

At first glance magnetic therapy might seem a bit strange or new age, but it is by no means ‘quackish’. Keep in mind that the Earth has a normal magnetic field and the cells in our bodies also have a normal magnetic field that allows for proper functioning. In numerous NASA experiments it was determined that rats in space that were not provided with a suitable magnetic field perish due to a disrupted energy flow. NASA scientists have also noted that astronaut’s experience similar calcium deficiencies after long-term space flights. Some doctors attribute many illnesses to the decline over the centuries in the Earths normal magnetic field.

So how does magnetic therapy work? It is generally believed that magnets work by means of magnetic lines of force; units called gauss measure the strength of the magnetic field. The higher the gauss number the stronger the magnet (a 1000 gauss magnet is ten times stronger than a 100 gauss magnet)

Magnets can be used either as permanent magnets, also called static magnets or as pulsed electromagnetic field magnets (PEMF). Static magnets come in bars, beads, or strips. These are somewhat similar to the magnets on your refrigerator. PEMF use a pulsing current that flows through a wire coil to create a magnetic field around the wire: the greater the amount of current flow, and the greater the number of turns of the wire, the greater the magnetic field that forms. In people the Food and Drug Administration approve PEMF for treating various types of non-union fractures (fractures that have failed to heal). Other uses include treatment of hip disorders, osteoarthritis, and rotator cuff injuries. Even more promising news is that no toxic effects have been reported using magnetic therapy.

Magnets appear to heal the body removing inflammation and restoring circulation. By increasing blood flow to a diseased site on the body, increased nutrients become available to speed the healing process. In fracture healing, for example, the use of magnetic fields increases the adherence of calcium ions to the blood clot formed at the site of the break. This allows for the proper formation of the callus that is necessary for fractures to heal properly.

In the eastern view of healing, magnets help restore the energy flow of the body to allow healing and proper metabolism. This is similar to one of the theories used to explain the positive affects of acupuncture as well.

In canine medicine, magnets are often used to aid in fracture healing and in the treatment of many other ailments including arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondritis, epilepsy, pain relief, chronic organ disorders and vertebral disorders. Sprains and strains and other traumatic disorders may also benefit from magnetic therapy. Magnets should not be used in acute infectious conditions, on cancerous growths (although some doctors do find them useful in treating cancerous tumours), in acute injuries, pregnant animals, or in dogs with cardiac pacemakers.

Dr. Strazza, a well-regarded expert in the area of magnetic therapy has commented on his experiences treating animals using magnetic therapy. He stated that with regard to fracture healing, he found a reduction of 40-50% in the healing time of simple fractures by merely incorporating magnets into a bandage. This meant that dogs could resume weight-bearing sooner if the magnets were used along with conventional fracture repair methods. A problem often seen in fracture healing is non-union of the fracture. In a non-union, the ends of the fracture fail to heal and the ends of the bones remain. He also observed that in magnetic therapy treatment of over fifty different animal fracture cases, no cases of non-union developed.

In two specific cases of severe non-union referred for evaluation where the fracture had failed to heal, magnetic therapy allowed healing of the fracture sight. Dr. Strazza also reports good remarkable success in treating various types of arthritis with magnets. Included in the cases are dogs with spinal arthritis and paralysis, chronic disk disease, hip dysplasia and arthritis, older dogs that move stiffly or slowly, and stiffness that develops after a morning exercise routine. By using a combination of a magnetic mat for sleeping along with a spinning magnetic field, he has achieved positive responses in 60-70% of his cases.

Magnets are certainly not a cure- all for every medical problem. Still they are a safe and relatively inexpensive alternative for pets with the chronic problems and can be of benefit in healing fractures. Magnetic field therapy helps the body to heal by creating a favorable environment for repair. Magnets increase blood flow to the area, bring in essential nutrients, and help relieve pain and inflammation. As with so many facets of the complementary and alternative medicine market, dog owners should always consult with an experienced veterinarian before trying magnetic field therapy. This should always be done to determine an accurate diagnosis of your dog’s condition and in order to select the best possible treatment.

THE HEALING ARTS: Animal Magnetism.

By Allen M Schoen Dr of veterinary Medicine .M.S.

When one thinks of magnetic therapy for animals, one might envision those classic horse shoe magnets pulling a dog off the ground, but actually there has been quite a bit of scientific research documenting the benefits of magnetic therapy. Magnetic therapy has enjoyed a recent resurgence as a safe, simple and inexpensive method that produces positive results without harmful side effect. The most recent review of magnetic therapy for animals is by D Hudson in the textbook “ Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine, Principles and practice.” Magnets are thought to work by means of magnetic lines of force, measured and quantified in units called gauss.

There are two classifications of magnets, permanent (or static) magnets and pulsed electromagnetic field magnets (PEMF). Normally permanent magnets are taped over an effected area on an animal for a period of time. A  relatively new addition to permanent magnets are bipolar magnetic strips or pads that can be taped on to a patient. These have been made for both animals both large and small as strips that are wrapped around injured or Arthritic joints or tendons, as blankets for horses and dogs as well as magnetic bed pads for older dogs.

Therapeutic permanent magnets usually range from 200 to 3000 gauss. The earth's magnetic field is 0.5 gauss for comparison. The most recent addition to the field of magnet therapy are bipolar magnets. Bipolar magnets are magnets where the north and south face are laid down parallel to each other side by side. Both the north and south poles come into contact with the skin.

There are different theories as to what is the best approach to applying magnets. Some recommend placing one specific pole, north or south on the injury. Advocates of this approach recommend using the north pole for healing injuries and the south pole for stimulating growth in tissues. Most veterinary practitioners recommend using the north pole only on the skin. Though many people use Bipolar magnets with out any problem.

The big questions for our friendly pets are 1. What are they used for and 2. How do I use them? Magnet therapy can be used alone or in conjunction with other modes of therapy, both traditional and natural.

Sometimes static magnets are used over acupuncture points, apparently helping to stimulate the points. The main indications for magnet therapy seem to be muscluloskeletal problems such as Arthritis in joints such as elbows, knees and as well as with back problems and hip dyplasia. I have a few clients who have used magnetic blankets for their old Arthritis dogs and claim that it has made a big difference in their pain relief and energy levels and their ease of getting up and down and walking better. Many of my horse patients have definitely improved with magnets on their backs and around tendons. They can be used in horses for tendon and ligament injuries.

The challenge with animals is how to keep the magnets on when they are always moving around. Manufacturers have developed  magnetic beds that the dog or cat can lie on. Magnetic rugs have been developed to wrap around horses these seem to work quite well. They have also made magnetic strips that you wrap around a particular joint. This works well in horses. For our smaller animal companions the magnetic beds or blankets are probably the best.

There you have the positive and negative of animal magnetism. Until next time let the electromagnetic force be with you.


by Drs. James E. Bullock and Kevin J. May of Bullock's Veterinary Hospital

The therapy with pulsating magnetic fields (PMF) is a relatively new and very effective form of physical therapy. It is not a miracle, but simply a physical (or better. biophysical) modality used in the medical branch and utilized for accelerated therapeutic purposes.

The use of PMF is a very efficient and simple therapy method. By influencing the animal either generally or locally with a magnetic field packed in impulse bundles the cellular functions can be improved considerably. The pulsating magnetic field has a high biological effectiveness, which is being used in the medical field as a means of therapy as well as in the area of diagnostics.    Today we have two basic magnetic therapies, the direct one with a magnetic field that serves as a medium for the inductive production of a current in a special implant.

Magnetic fields cannot be absorbed; they can only be shielded against shunting them into strong ferromagnetic materials. Therefore, it is difficult to produce field-free spaces when magnetic fields strike a material. We differentiate between so-called paramagnetic substances in which a bundling or a concentration of magnetic field lines occur, and the so-called diamagnetic substances, in which a decentralization of the field lines results. Air is neutral.

The animal's body is only insignificantly diamagnetic and paramagnetic; basically, it is neutral. So whenever field lines impact on the animal organism or on parts of it, they absolutely permeate these areas. Compared to known methods this is the first important discovery. Within the range of magnetic fields, all parts of the body are penetrated completely by the field lines.

It is known that the human and animal organism consists of a large number of cells. These cells are functioning electrically. If there is no electrical potential left in the cell, it is no longer viable. These cells have a basic (or rest) potential that is necessary for normal cellular metabolism.

Diseased or damaged cells have an altered rest potential. If the ions (electrically charged particles surrounding the cells) move into the area of pulsating magnetic fields, they will be influenced by the rhythm of the pulsation. The rest potential of the cell is proportional to the ion exchange occurring at the cell membrane.

The ion exchange is also responsible for the oxygen utilization of the cell. Pulsating magnetic fields can dramatically influence the ion exchange at the cellular level and thereby greatly improve the oxygen utilization of diseased or damaged tissues. The deterioration of the oxygen utilization is known to be a problem in several medical branches, especially delayed healing and arthritis of joints. Thus, the wide range of indications are:

1. Orthopedics. traumatology, rheumatology, after-treatment of

complicated and simple fractures, wound treatment, burns, and degenerative

diseases of the apparatus of support and locomotion.

2. Coronary and circulatory diseases;

3. Disorders of the neurological system.

From bibliography and clinical experiments, we know that pulsating magnetic fields are able to reduce pain sensations almost immediately. This is due in part to the increase in the oxygen partial pressure in the terminal tissue and the increase in the local perfusion and velocity of the capillary blood flow alleviating the accumulation of metabolites due to small vascularization and blood flow (transmitted by the sympathetic nervous system).

The above mentions the wide area of indications but says nothing of contraindications and side effects. There are no absolute contraindications to magnetic therapy except in cases of hemorrhage or where electrical implants already are in use. In contrast to chemical medicaments, there is no over dosage, at least within the field range that we are presently using for treatments. Magnetic field powers of maximum 100 gauss are far less than field powers that have negative biological effects.

The PMF therapy is an absolutely heatless therapy method, not a heat producing method, not a heat producing therapy. Therefore, all implants (except heart pacemakers) can be treated. Our hospital has used PMF therapy to accelerate the healing of those horses needing pins and bone plates. No damaging heat will be produced in the implants. Furthermore, all implants are antimagnetic. The treatment of fractures can also be applied with a plaster cast because, as mentioned before, magnetic fields permeate all materials.

The therapeutic effect of such treatments lasts for approximately six to eight hours. This shows that the majority of all cases at the beginning of a series of treatments daily. Only after five to 10 days can the treatment regime be reduced to one treatment daily or every other day. In very chronic or extremely difficult cases, this treatment may be longer. The wide experience concerning the application of this therapy implies that an alternate solution has been found in accelerating the healing time of many of our common injuries affecting our running horses, as well as possible therapy for those patients who have been resistant to other therapies and those patients injured by the side effects of other therapies. 

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