When searching for a Vet for your furry friend, it’s hard to really understand why your Vet became a Vet, what their specialties are, and their background. That’s why we have begun a series of interviewing local Vets in NYC. Please find below an interview with Dr. Barrack, Owner and Veterinarian at Animal Acupuncture with interviewer, Jamie Ruden, founder of Dog Spotted.
Dr. Barrack, thank you so much for joining us! Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Sure! I’m a licensed Veterinarian who specializes in Chinese medicine including acupuncture, Chinese herbology, and food therapy. I’m a house call Vet, which allows me to meet dogs (and cats) across the five boroughs. Plus, I offer telemedicine appointments which allows those not based in the NYC metropolitan area to benefit from my expertise.
I studied animal sciences at the University of Vermont and then went on to receive my doctorate of veterinary medicine degree from the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. Following graduation, I completed a surgical internship at the New Jersey Equine Clinic and then went on work in both private and regulatory practice at Belmont and Aqueduct racetracks. While I was there, I became interested in Chinese medicine and subsequently went on to study Traditional Chinese Medicine under animal care pioneer, Dr. Huisheng Xie, at the Chi Institute in Florida. There I earned three certifications in veterinary acupuncture, Chinese herbology, and veterinary food therapy. Today, I own and operate an integrative mobile practice where I focus primarily on Chinese medicine but draw upon all my western and eastern training to provide comprehensive care to dogs, cats, and horses.
Wow! Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology and Food Therapy? Can you walk us through an appointment?
My office is mobile, allowing me to treat dogs in their own homes– from their favorite spot on the couch or the comfort of their dog bed. What’s better and more convenient than treatment in the comfort of your own home? Everything I need to diagnose and treat is easily transportable.
While your dog gets used to me being in your home, we (the humans) sit down and go through a full health history. Then I perform a detailed conventional (western) physical examination as well as a traditional Chinese veterinary medical examination. Next, we’ll discuss my findings and your primary concerns to determine the best course of treatment for your pup.
Recommended treatments may include acupuncture and/or Chinese herbals exclusively, or a combination of eastern and western therapies. Food is medicine. This is especially important for dogs who typically eat the same thing on a daily basis. Often I will incorporate food therapy into the treatment protocol. This can range from supplementing the current diet, switching diets, or even home cooking depending on your preference and your dog’s unique needs.
A typical initial visit lasts anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes (depending on how much medical history we have to discuss, modalities utilized, and how cooperative your dog is). Subsequent appointments are a bit shorter in length.
So what started it all? Why did you become a Vet?
I’ve loved animals for as long as I can remember. I started horseback riding at the age of seven and shortly thereafter declared to anyone who would listen, ‘I’m going to be a horse doctor someday!” I volunteered at the North Shore Animal League and worked as a veterinary assistant at local small animal hospitals. I begged and begged my parents for a dog for years until they
relented saw my logic. Once they ventured to the right side of the debate, we brought home my beloved Dalmatian, Bentley (seen above), when I turned sixteen.
Over the years, my love of animals only intensified. I never forgot my dream to become a veterinarian and it kept me motivated through the many years of schooling and hard work.
Now my primary focus is treating dogs and cats in NYC. I do still treat horses on Long Island, including the Hamptons. Having a mobile medical practice that incorporates both western veterinary knowledge and eastern medicine techniques is what I love to do. This allows me to provide animals with the best and most complete medical care.
What is it like being a Vet? What is your favorite part of the job?
No two days are the same – there are stressful/bad days and then there are the good days. I’m fortunate that I love what I do and that the good days definitely outweigh the not-so-good ones.
My favorite part of my job is making a difference in the lives of the animals I treat. A double bonus is the happiness and relief I see from pet parents.
Depending on the condition being treated, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and food therapy can individually and collectively provide marked improvement after just one session, but often a few treatments are required. This allows me to really get to know the pups under my care and their parents. I love becoming a part of the family.
What is something you wish dog parents knew when coming to the Vet?
Find a veterinarian you can trust. We’re here to help your dog live their best, healthiest, happiest life. No question is dumb. Should you have concerns, don’t hesitate to ask.
My clients know how much I care about their pets. I’m always only an email, text, or phone call away – anytime.
With regard to Chinese medicine, it’s important to remember that it has the same goals as western medicine—to eliminate disease and support the best quality of life. However, each approach is suited to specific circumstances. Western medicine is ideal for acute disease diagnostics and surgery. Acupuncture can be very effective in treating chronic conditions that western medicine can help but not cure. Traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, focuses on the underlying cause of disease, not just the symptoms manifested in each individual patient. Conventional western drugs act quickly but sometimes come with unwanted side effects. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy can be used to avoid or ameliorate some of those side effects.
Acupuncture can be used to treat an endless array of conditions in both humans and animals. Some common applications for dogs include:
- Degenerative joint disease
- Neurological disease (seizures, disc disease)
- Gastrointestinal issues (anorexia, diarrhea, vomiting)
- Cardiovascular and respiratory disease
- Renal disease
- Skin disease
- Urogenital disease (incontinence)
- Immune-mediated diseases
- Chronic ear infections
- Post operative healing
- Behavioral issues (anxiety)
- Palliative care
What’s something that your clients would be surprised to learn?
When not treating patients, I love to get a good workout in (I’m a SoulCycle and rumble addict), discover new healthy restaurants, enjoy a California cabernet, and read. I’m a voracious historical fiction reader!
I’ve worked in environments ranging from small animal clinics to animal shelters to wildlife conservation centers in South Africa. I completed my clinical veterinary studies at Auburn University in Alabama. Prior to establishing my practice, Animal Acupuncture, I worked at Belmont and Aqueduct Race Tracks both in private practice and as a regulatory veterinarian and racing official. I grew up on Long Island and currently live downtown with my fiance Roman and 15-year-old feisty chihuahua, Eloise (aka Lil Weezy). (seen above)
What is your favorite part about Dog Spotted?
My favorite part of Dog Spotted is the number of trusted resources Jamie has put together and created for the NYC dog community.