What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the art and science of placing small needles in specific areas to encourage the body’s own healing and function. This technique has been used in veterinary practice in China for at least 2,000 years to treat a variety of ailments. Whether used alone, coupled with Chinese herbal formulas or in conjunction with Western medicine, acupuncture can be a wonderful complementary therapy.
What is electroacupuncture?
Electroacupuncture is a method of treatment that uses electrical current to stimulate acupuncture points. Needles are inserted into these points and connected by wires to an electrical stimulation device. The mild electric current is then passed between pairs of needles.
What can I expect at my appointment?
Your pet is made comfortable on a mat on the exam room floor or table. Fine needles of varying lengths are gently applied to specific acupuncture points. Some pets show slight discomfort as the needles are inserted, but this feeling quickly dissipates. In general, most of our patients find the acupuncture treatment to be quite relaxing. Some pets may even become sleepy after treatment. The initial visit may take up to one hour. Follow-up appointments are approximately 10 minutes; 40 minutes is needed if electroacupuncture is prescribed.
Which conditions does acupuncture work best for?
Acupuncture is indicated for pain and inflammation, but can be very beneficial for any musculoskeletal or neurologic condition. Metabolic diseases can also be augmented with acupuncture and herbal therapy. Common diseases treated with acupuncture include:
  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Tendon or ligament injury
  • Lick granulomas
  • Feline asthma
  • Diarrhea
  • Kidney disease
How does acupuncture work?
From a Western perspective, the needles stimulate the local release of histamine to allow for increased blood flow. The needles can also stimulate nerve function, relieve muscle spasm and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body’s pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid), to reduce inflammation.
When shouldn't acupuncture be used?
Acupuncture does not treat cancer or cell death (e.g.,transected nerves), but it can help quality of life by treating other areas of the body compensating for cancer or chronic disease. Acupuncture is contraindicated in pregnant animals or directly around tumors.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when it is administered by a properly-trained veterinarian. Side effects are rare. You may see your pet become very sleepy within 24 hours of acupuncture treatment. This frequently indicates that some physiological changes are developing and is often followed by an improvement in your pet’s condition.
How many treatments are needed?
The length and frequency of treatments depend on the condition of the patient. A pet with a simple sprain may only need one treatment, whereas an animal with a chronic condition may require several or several dozen treatments. Patients often start with one or two treatments per week for three to four weeks. A positive response is usually seen after the first to third treatments. Once a maximum response is achieved, the treatments are tapered until the greatest amount of symptom-free time elapses between them.
What about long term-treatment options?
Integrative medicine can be very beneficial for pets with chronic disease. Often, the underlying condition has developed due to multiple factors. Lifestyle changes to resolve or control the condition, such as diet or environmental enrichment, may also be recommended.