Veterinary Acupuncture FAQ

Veterinary acupuncture is a wonderful theraputic treatment for many pets. 

We've compiled some of our most commonly asked questions about veterinary acupuncture. Read on to learn more...

Veterinary Acupuncture Information

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the stimulation of a precise point on the body to achieve a desired therapeutic effect. The point is called an acupuncture point, acupoint, or “Shu-xu.” The study of acupuncture dates back to ancient times and is now routinely used in the treatment of humans and animals alike as a part of an integrated approach to medical diagnosis and treatment. Current scientific research into acupuncture points has shown that these points are all located at areas of increased density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles, and lymphatic vessels. Studies have shown that stimulation of acupuncture points causes a release of beta-endorphins, serotonin, and various other substances that result in pain relief.

What are acupuncture’s methods and treatment goals?

There are a number of methods used to stimulate acupuncture points. The most common method is through the insertion of acupuncture needles—a technique called “dry needling.” Other techniques that can be used for stimulation include aqua-acupuncture, hemo-acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, and moxibustion. Acupuncture needles are of smaller gauge than the needles commonly used for injections and blood sampling and do not have hollow centers. Insertion of the needles does not typically cause a pain response in our patients- most patients feel a heavy sensation and muscle contraction at the needle site. Many patients even fall asleep during treatment! Acupuncture treatments typically take 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the patient and condition being treated. The main goal of any acupuncture treatment on an animal is to return the patient to the homeostasis of their body systems. This often means treating painful conditions and aiding organ functions, depending on the animal’s reason for treatment. If you and your doctor decide acupuncture is right for your pet, Dr. J will discuss specific treatment techniques and goals for your pet at your acupuncture evaluation.

Is acupuncture safe?

When done by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is very safe! Few side effects have been reported in clinical cases.

How many treatments are necessary?

This depends greatly on the patient and condition being treated. A patient with an acute condition (usually less than a few weeks) may only need one treatment, while a patient with a long-standing condition may need 3-10 treatments. Many elderly patients or those with degenerative diseases may need monthly treatments to maintain a good quality of life. We ask that you commit to three acupuncture treatments for your pet before you decide if you are seeing any results from the treatment. While many pets respond to their first treatment, some take up to three treatments before results are seen. Dr. J will discuss what to expect with you when you bring your pet in for an evaluation.

What conditions does acupuncture treat?

Acupuncture has proven clinically effective in the following conditions:

  • Musculoskeletal problems: muscle stiffness, back pain, disc problems, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease
  • Neurological disorders: seizures, laryngeal paralysis, nerve paralysis
  • Gastrointestinal problems: diarrhea, vomiting, gastric ulcers, constipation, megacolon
  • Chronic conditions: skin problems/allergies, asthma/cough, behavior problems, endocrine diseases, geriatric weakness and comfort care, renal failure, infertility
  • Performance enhancement and prevention of disease

Cautions and Contraindications:

Fractures, pregnancy, open wounds, and infectious diseases may cause acupuncture to be used with caution or contraindicated. Dr. J will discuss this with you at your acupuncture evaluation if any of these apply for your pet.

What about herbal therapy?

Acupuncture is sometimes combined with herbal treatment to support the treatment goals of the acupuncture performed. Herbs are often used in combination with acupuncture in cases where western medicine and treatment have been unsuccessful.

Think veterinary acupuncture is right for your pet? Call us today to schedule an evaluation!

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