The practice of acupuncture in veterinary medicine is an often overlooked but highly effective and non-invasive treatment modality. Acupuncture involves the insertion of very small needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response. This technique has been used for thousands of years in China to treat both humans and animals for a variety of medical problems. Acupoints contain a high concentration of nerve endings, and tiny blood vessels called capillaries. Acupuncture can be used to assist the body to heal itself by stimulating nerves and blood circulation, and releasing hormones such as endorphins which help control pain. Although acupuncture has been used for thousands of years and many of its effects on the body have been studied, still more research is needed to determine all of its exact physiological effects.
In veterinary medicine, acupuncture can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions. Almost anything that can be treated with Western medicine can be treated with acupuncture. It tends to work best for painful musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis, back or neck intervertebral disc disease, and trauma. Although it is most commonly used as an adjunctive therapy in pain management, it is also useful in cases of gastrointestinal problems, kidney disease, skin disorders, and respiratory problems.
Dogs, cats, horses, and many other animals respond very well to acupuncture. Treatment is provided using very small needles, which generally cause little to no pain or reaction from the patient when inserted. The needles are left in place for 20-30 minutes in general, depending on the condition. Electroacupuncture can also be used to stimulate a stronger response. Most patients become relaxed (or even fall asleep) during treatment. Generally response to treatment is seen after 1 to 3 sessions, depending on the problem and how long it has been going on. Chronic problems tend to take longer to respond than acute conditions. Acupuncture is a very safe practice, and there are relatively few contraindications which your veterinarian would be able to discuss with you before deciding if acupuncture is the right treatment plan for your pet. Veterinarians who perform acupuncture have received additional training in the field of Chinese Medicine to be able to provide this service. Chinese herbal medications are often prescribed in conjunction with acupuncture and can provide additional benefits.
If you are interested in acupuncture for your four-legged friend please do not hesitate to call our offices to set up a consultation!