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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 18:16 GMT 19:16 UK
Acupuncture for injured poodles
Horse acupuncture
Many of the horses are stressed when they arrive at the centre
Acupuncture for injured horses and aromatherapy for sick poodles are among the treatments available at a new therapy centre.

The owners of the Natural Animal Therapy Centre in Oxfordshire believe they are the first in the UK to offer complementary treatment for animals.

Even before issuing a brochure the surgery is already treating some of the country's most expensive racehorses.

The owners say they can treat all kinds of animals at the centre.

The centre is an addition to the existing veterinary surgery on the site, and was set up by Karen Bourdon and Jimmy Symonds.

"We both had a personal interest in helping animals heal naturally," she told BBC News Online.

Medicine in the animal world always seems about five years behind the human one
Karen Bourdon
"There's a big need for this sort of thing.

"Medicine in the animal world always seems about five years behind the human one."

The idea has been met with a positive response from several big-name clients, and they are currently treating Mr Dinos, the Ascot Gold Cup winning horse, and others belonging to top trainer Mark Pitman.

"The owners and trainers we deal with look at complementary medicine as a way of boosting the animal's immune system - while some traditional medicines - like antibiotics - can lower it.

"If you've had acupuncture yourself you know it works."

Many of the injured racehorses they treated were frustrated by several weeks' box rest, she said.

"The essential oils really calm them down."

The treatments have proved so popular they are running a course to teach vets about complementary medicine, which begins next week.

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