Five Paws Veterinary Acupuncture & Wellness


The Veterinarian

Dr. Stefanie Scheff, founder of Five Paws Vet, received her Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Psychology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2001. From there, she decided to venture off to see the world and lived in Sydney, Australia for six years where she earned her Veterinary Medicine and Surgery degree from the University of Sydney in 2006. While studying in Sydney, Dr. Scheff became interested in marine mammal veterinary medicine. She started working with Australian and New Zealand Sea Lions, Leopard seals, and native penguins at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo marine mammal department. As well, she did internships at Zeehondencreche, a seal rehabilitation in the Netherlands, and the Marine Mammal Center in San Pedro, CA.

After graduating in 2006, she returned home to California to start practicing veterinary medicine in Ventura, California as a small animal practitioner. She became interested in furthering her knowledge in medicine and sought to help heal her patients, which acupuncture, eastern and holistic medicine seemed to be able to do. She became a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 2011 and a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute in 2013.
Dr. Scheff is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Australian Veterinary Medical Association, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the California Veterinary Medical Association, the Santa Barbara-Ventura Veterinary Medical Association, the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management and Surfrider Foundation. In her free time, Dr. Scheff enjoys surfing, hiking, cycling, rock climbing, and just about any other outdoor activity. She lives in Ventura with her dog Phoenix, and her two cats Aiden and Jacob.

Five Paws Veterinary

By using a "whole-listic" approach to diagnose and treat a disorder or disease, a healthier outcome will come about.

Working alone, or with your general practitioner, Five Paws Vet can help heal your pet with a more natural resolution.  Starting with the basis of life, we can help to design a whole food therapy diet that is specific to your pet's life, internal constitution, or disease process. 

Herbal formulas may be used more often, rather than western pharmacy medications, depending on the case.  Advantages to herbal formulas are that they are much more natural and easier to assimulate in to the body.  Herbal preparations have less likely hood of adverse reactions as well.

Veterinary Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to bring about a healing effect.  The first evidence of acupuncture was discovered on an iceman, later name Oetzi, who lived over 5,000 years ago in the Italian Alps.  Since then, the Chinese have mastered this art and have been employing it for over 3,000 years to treat many ailments and illnesses.  It is also utilized in preventative medicine for both humans and animals. 
Modern veterinary acupuncturists use thin, solid needles, hypoderminc needles, electrical current, heat, massage and low energy photon therapy to stimulate acupuncture points.  Acupuncture is not a cure-all.  It should be used as part of a holistic medicine regime that includes whole food therapy and either herbal supplements or western medicine formulas specific to treat the case at hand.

Examples of conditions for which acupuncture may be helpful:
  • Musculoskeletal: arthritis, vertebral disc disease, tendon/ligament injuries
  • Skin: allergic skin disorders, lick granulomas
  • Gastrointestinal: diarrhea, constipation
  • Respiratory: feline asthma
  • Psychological: anxiety, stress, depression
  • Nervous system: facial nerve paralysis

How does acupuncture work?

According to ancient Chinese medical philosophy, disease is the result of an imbalance of energy in the body. Acupuncture is believed to balance this energy and, thereby, assist the body to heal disease.

Acupuncture produces a multitude of physiologic effects that activate the body's regulatory system to release neurotransmitters responsible for analgesia; endorphins to control pain, blood pressure, and body temperature; microtrauma to release such compounds as growth factor and platelet activating factor to enhance immune responses. 

Will acupuncture be painful for my pet?

For the vast majority of animals, acupuncture is painless.  Acupuncture, however, may cause some sensations most likened to tingles, cramps, or numbness which occur in humans.  Animals may be uncomfortable with this feeling and pull away at this point.  Once the needles are in, there should be no pain.  Most pets will fall asleep or become very sedate during their sessions.

How often should acupuncture be performed?

Depending on the nature of the problem or illness, acupuncture sessions may take anywhere from one treatment for acute problems or maintenance issues, to several sessions spanning over weeks or months to treat chronic problems and illnesses.     

Most acupuncture sessions are on average 15-20 minutes in length.  When multiple treatments are needed, they usually begin with 1 to 2 treatments per week for the first 2 to 4 weeks and then taper off.  A positive response to acupuncture will usually be seen after the first one or two treatments.  With many older animals having maintenance acupuncture for joint problems, they are usually able to extend their time to one treatment every 1 to 2 months.

Are there side effects to acupuncture?

Acupuncture is very safe and is one of the safest ways to medically treat an animal if performed by a properly trained veterinarian.  For any treatment, there are potential side effects. 
Side effects that may occur: sleepiness and lethargy for about a day or apparent worsening of an animal's condition for 48 hours after acupuncture.  These effects may come about due to the neurophysiologic changes going on in the body as a result of the acupuncture and are usually followed by an improvement soon after.