White House Vets
156 Newtown Road
Malvern WR14 1PJ
01684 560940 (24hrs)
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Mon-Fri 08:00 - 19.00hrs
Saturday 08:00 - 13:00hrs
Sunday 10:00 - 12:00hrs
Also open Bank Holidays except
Appointments within 24 hours
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A new addition (August 2017) to our armoury of treatments for pets is Leech Therapy.
Ines, our vet, has taken an interest in this increasingly popular method of healing of certain conditions and keeps a leech community for this very purpose.
The application of Leech therapy
Leech therapy can be used for arthritis and other painful spinal conditions, and also helps the healing of wounds, abscesses and haematomas.
A leech can live up to 20 years and only requires a blood meal every 1-2 years. They are hermaphrodites, i.e. both male and female, and they breed at the age of 3-4 years, laying 3-15 eggs in a cocoon. They need pure water to live in, and because of this, they have become an endangered species in most parts of Europe.
Leeches are elegant swimmers, and they have quite beautiful markings.
Over their lifetime on earth they have developed a true symbiosis with human beings, which has guaranteed the host a better quality of life whilst providing the leech with a tasty meal.
How do leeches aid recovery and healing?
It is the leeches’ saliva that has been known to cure or prevent diseases. Their saliva has over 100 bioactive substances that are very beneficial and which have anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, analgesic, neurotrophic and anti-depressive properties.
All these bioactive substances work together to decrease the viscosity of the blood, making its consistency thinner to promote better blood flow.
Their bite is like a stinging-nettle in people, whilst for animals it appears to be less unpleasant. The process of blood sucking takes 30 min to two hours and is followed by an after-bleed period which lasts for 12 hours, and sometimes up to 24 hours. Each leech consumes about 5-30ml of blood and the same amount of blood (even though it looks more) is lost with the after-bleed. The after-bleed is an important part of the process.
The salivary glands of leeches are free from pathogens and they have worked out a mechanism to clean the bite wounds they have caused.
Are there side-effects?
Leech therapy is in general extremely safe
Mild swelling, reddening and itchiness of the bite area for a couple of days after the treatment are normal after-effects. They rarely require treatment.
It is not appropriate and should not be used for the following conditions:
Animals with blood clotting disorders, such as Von Willebrand’s disease, Cancer patients, Pregnancy, Animals in a poor state of health, Animals on anti-coagulant medication (Clopridogel, Aspirin).
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