Is Acupuncture Right For My Pet?

Why consider acupuncture?

You may be interested in acupuncture for your pet for a variety of reasons. Acupuncture is a way to achieve optimal wellness and improve quality of life. Acupuncture can be used to achieve better control of chronic conditions. It can be used along with traditional medications and treatments, or even used to decrease the use of additional medications. Acupuncture can also be used in sudden illnesses or injuries to speed recovery and support the immune system. Additionally, acupuncture can be used during surgery or the post operative period for pain control and decreased healing time.

What is acupuncture?
The act of placing a needle into the body at specific points to produce a healing response. The needles are very thin. Needle insertion in most acupuncture points used on our pets is not typically painful. Many will not even notice the insertion at all. However, some pets are more sensitive in general or in specific areas of the body and may not tolerate certain locations being used.

How does acupuncture work?
Traditional Chinese explanation and modern scientific explanation are very different, although the acupuncture points on the body are the same. The traditional Chinese philosophy explains acupuncture as a way to release the obstruction of energy flow through the body and restore energy balance. Today, research is being performed in order to better understand the neurologic and biochemical basis of acupuncture. Studies are being published on a regular basis. The scientific explanation of acupuncture is that the needles are placed in specific locations where they can stimulate the nervous system. This causes a release of the body’s chemical mediators in the muscle, spinal cord, and brain. These chemical mediators can change the experience of pain for better pain control, or they can trigger the release of other natural chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s internal regulating system. Acupuncture can be used to stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle tension, improve pain control, stimulate healing, and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins.

Some of the specific conditions acupuncture can treat:
• Arthritis       • Disc Disease       • Nerve Injuries       • Paralysis       • Back Pain       • Lameness
• Diarrhea      • Vomiting       • Inflammatory Bowel Disease       • Kidney Disease       • Inappetence
• Stress and anxiety       • Wounds       • Allergies       • Respiratory Disorders/Infections       • Cancer*

*In cancer patients, acupuncture can help to stimulate the immune system, alleviate pain, and improve quality of life.

What to expect during an acupuncture appointment:
You and your pet will be invited into a calm environment. We want you and your pet to be as relaxed as possible. You are welcome to bring anything that may help to calm your pet including a favorite treat or blanket. Most of the appointment will be on the floor for your pet and your veterinarian. If you are able to sit on the floor, you are welcome to join as well. You will stay with your pet for the entire treatment. Treatment times can vary anywhere from 5-30 minutes. However, allow yourself time for the appointment. The entire appointment may take 40-60 minutes or longer. For chronic conditions, patients often start with a weekly treatment for 3-6 weeks. Once a positive response is achieved, appointment frequency can be lessened. An individualized schedule will then be made for maintenance of results. Sudden illnesses or injuries may need fewer or more frequent treatments. You may see positive results after multiple treatments or possibly sooner depending on the condition being treated.

Is acupuncture safe?
When performed by a trained veterinarian, acupuncture has very minimal side effects. The needles used are sterile. Once a needle is inserted, your pet may experience temporary sensations that are described by human acupuncture patients such as relaxation, tingling, or dull aching. For up to 24 hours after the appointment, your pet may be in a very relaxed state that can make him or her seem sleepy or lethargic. Internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally, the original symptoms may seem to worsen. These effects are temporary and should not cause concern. They are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work. Allow your pet time to rest and these signs will resolve.

References and resources for further information:
American Academy of Medical Acupuncture
International Veterinary Acupuncture Society
American Academy Of Veterinary Acupuncture

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