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Benefits of Acupuncture for your Pet

Veterinary Acupuncture

I started looking into acupuncture to try to help my aging patients who were not supported enough with the supportive care options Western Medicine had to offer.  When I first started studying acupuncture, I was very skeptical. The more I learned about TCVM, the more I could see the value in some of the tools and theories. I have seen enough to believe acupuncture is a valuable tool.

What is Acupuncture? – Acupuncture is a technique of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) that uses stimulation at specific parts of the body (usually with needles) to treat many diseases and conditions.

How does acupuncture work? – From a TCVM perspective, energy (or Qi) flows throughout the body through pathways called meridians (or channels) and collects at points along the way.  Disease is caused when Qi does not flow properly either due to too little Qi, stagnation (or building up), or an excess of abnormal factors. The channels flow through the whole body and internal organs but also come up to the surface of the body.  This allows deeper internal effects through the access of the points in the skin. The goal of acupuncture is to bring the body back into normal balance.

What diseases is acupuncture recommended for? – There are points for basically every western medicine condition, so there is a lot to explore.  It can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, like anxiety, musculoskeletal conditions, gastrointestinal conditions, renal or liver diseases, pain, seizures, other neurologic conditions like disc disease, and many more. 

What diseases is acupuncture not recommended? – Western medicine works better for some conditions like parasites, heart disease, and cancer.  However, Acupuncture can be used to help support and minimize the side effects of the Western treatments for these diseases.

How long does it take to see effects? – It can take up to 6-8 sessions to see effects, however, we can see effects well before this time (in as little as one session), but it all depends on the condition and the animal’s response.

How often do you do acupuncture? – Generally, we will make an appointment about every 2 weeks, but it will depend on each case. Some factors that may affect how often acupuncture is recommended include the animal’s overall health, the urgency of the problem, the animal’s tolerance of treatment, the method of acupuncture, and many other factors.

How is acupuncture done? – Very small needles are placed in the skin at specific locations along the channels to treat different diseases.  There are different techniques that include using needles only (dry needling), very mild electricity (or electro-acupuncture), injection of fluid under the skin (aqua-puncture), and laser-assisted acupuncture.

Does it hurt? – The needles are very small, and generally, it is well tolerated.  It is important to recognize that the point of placing a needle is to encourage the Qi to flow properly again. So if a needle is placed into a place of stagnation, it can be much more sensitive than any that size needle placed anywhere else in the skin.  However, this is usually a good sign because it indicates that point likely needs treatment and we are on our way to improvement. We do everything we can to make sure we respect each animal’s personal limits, and we can discuss alternatives on a case-by-case basis. Laser acupuncture can be beneficial for those animals who do not tolerate needles. 

Is acupuncture safe? – Acupuncture in general is very safe. There are certain conditions where caution has to be used, but one of the main benefits of acupuncture is the safety and the lack of significant interactions with western medicine. Also, because acupuncture’s goal is to bring the body back into balance, the same points can be used to both decrease excess conditions and boost deficiency conditions.

So this sounds great, but the big question is does it actually work? – Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years.  It has been scientifically tested and found to have significant effects in several conditions including pain, intervertebral disk disease, cranial cruciate ligament injuries, seizures, etc.  However, there is still a lot more research that is currently being done. Each animal’s needs are different, and there is no guarantee, but I can promise that we are a team.  I am here to support you and your pet the best way I can and we will tackle challenges together.

How much does it cost? – Our acupuncture services are $200 per session. Each session lasts approximately one hour. Note: the first acupuncture session predominately consists of a TCVM exam and an in-depth consultation so that you know what to expect from acupuncture treatment. It may also include a small number of needles to gauge your animal’s tolerance toward acupuncture. If you are unsure as to if acupuncture is right for your pet we do offer a virtual consultation for $120. We conduct all of our virtual consultations via Zoom (or phone call).

Payment is due at the time of the appointment and can be paid via card or check.

We would love to hear from you if you still have questions or concerns, so please feel free to contact us. If you are interested in an initial assessment, please schedule an appointment.