What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the key parts of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) which has been practiced in China for over 2500 years. Acupuncture can take multiple forms, but in general it involves the stimulation locations on the body called Acupoints using thin sterile needles (dry needle). It can also include electrical stimulation (electro-acupuncture) of points, or injection of sterile liquids (sterile saline, or Vitamin B12) into points (aquapuncture).
Is there scientific evidence for acupuncture?
Yes, and the research is growing by the day, in both human and veterinary fields. Anatomical studies of acupuncture points have found that acupuncture points represent collections of blood vessels, white blood cells, lymphatic vessels, and around free nerve endings. Acupuncture point stimulation also causes the release of β-endorphins and serotonin, which is just one way that it can help modulate your pet’s pain!
Acupuncture research has proven benefits in pain management and arthritis, tissue healing and mobility, GI motility disorders, and the immune system, among many others.
Can my pet have acupuncture?
Yes! Almost every pet can benefit from some form of acupuncture. Acupuncture has been successfully used to manage Musculoskeletal issues (Cruciate ligament injury, Fractures, arthritis, etc.), Neurological disorders (IVDD and paralysis, facial paralysis, Laryngeal hemiplegia), Gastrointestinal disease (Acute or Chronic diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, megacolon), and many other acute and chronic conditions.
Is acupuncture safe?
Yes! When performed by a properly trained licensed veterinarian. After acupuncture your pet may be a bit sore, or tired (that day they may sleep more than usual), slightly low appetite, and rarely have soft stools (unless being performed for diarrhea).
Does acupuncture hurt?
Rarely. The vast majority of patients barely feel the needles go in, as they are so thin. The desired response to a needle going into an acupuncture point is called the De-qi response (Arrival of Qi), and in animals can look like flinching, skin twitching, turning to look at the acupuncturist, or sometimes turning to bite. They also may feel (but can’t tell us about) a heavy sensation or pressure, mild pain, or a stimulated feeling. In some rare cases they may react painfully in very sensitive points that are chronically tense (trigger points), or those around the feet, though we always work up to those, and work with them at their tolerance levels. In general, sedation is not required for acupuncture, though if your pet benefits from coming in on sedation (Gabapentin, trazodone, etc.) for their general appointments, they will likely benefit from it during these sessions to reduce stress.
How long does it take for acupuncture work?
Acupuncture is not magic, and takes time to take effect. Some results can be seen immediately, but in general a minimum of 3-5 treatments 1-2 weeks apart for chronic conditions are needed before you can see a noticeable difference. The number of total treatments is variable for each patient and their respective condition.
How long does each session take?
The first appointment is 1 hour long, while follow up appointments are 40 minutes, and the acupuncture itself can take 10-30 minutes of that appointment. The number of needles is variable for each pet, generally ranging from 5-20 needles / pet, depending on their condition and what they can tolerate. Older weaker patients
usually receive less needles / stimulation than younger healthier ones. Cats are also less tolerant of needles usually, and so often receive less needles, though they often respond more potently to fewer #s of needles.
We ask that if you are bringing your pet in for acupuncture, that they are only there for that service. If you have health concerns for your pet that you do not wish to be treated with acupuncture (ie. ear infections, skin infections, vomiting or diarrhea), we ask that those appointments are scheduled appropriately with your regular veterinarian or outside of our acupuncture hours. If your pet is critically ill or in need of emergency care, please proceed to your nearest veterinary emergency hospital or contact your regular veterinarian.