The spa treatment -- for furry patients and feathered friends
February 26, 1997
Web posted at: 10:45 p.m EST (0345 GMT)
(CNN) -- Ostriches are said to bury their heads in the sand. But at a veterinary hospital in Japan, the birds -- and dogs and cats -- are being buried up to their heads.
It may sound cruel, but veterinarians at the Kuroki General Animal Hospital say it's the only treatment for some of their feathered and furry patients.
Dr. Nobuyoshi Kuroki began the unorthodox treatments in 1988, taking advantage of the natural resources in Ibusuki in Kagoshima Prefecture. The area in southern Japan is famous for its sand-bath hot springs.
Kuroki says he got the idea from research by a Japanese university showing that the treatment can be effective for humans suffering from such woes as stress, overeating, constipation -- and even to speed recovery from broken bones.
If it worked for people, Kuroki reasoned, why not animals?
As it turns out, Kuroki says his patients -- mostly dogs and cats -- often heal more quickly because they are much more responsive and obedient than humans.
At first, the animals seem shocked by the steamy sand, which is about 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees C), but they soon calm down.
Kuroki says his animal clinic is the only one in Japan using
sand-spa treatment. Owners pay 1,500 yen (U.S. $13) for their pets to get a physical exam and a long hot soak in the sand.
The clinic sometimes treats wild animals -- such as an owl found by a passer-by and brought in for treatment.
Veterinarians found that the owl, they call it Fuku-chan, had suffered nerve damage so severe that it couldn't clasp with its claws. So Kuroki buried it in the sand for 15 minutes. When the warmed-up owl was dug out, its legs were much stronger, the vet said. And with more treatment, Fuku-chan may soon recover enough to be fly again.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Related sites:Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.