What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been practiced in China in both humans and animals for thousands of years. It is one of the branches of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine also includes herbal medicine, food therapy, and Tui-na, a type of Chinese massage.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of small, thin, sterile needles into specific points in the body to cause a therapeutic change to occur. These points are called acupoints. Over thousands of years, we have created a map of 359 transpositional acupoints and 77 classical acupoints in humans and animals; we routinely use 173 acupoints in veterinary medicine. Research shows that these points are located in areas with a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells/immune cells, small blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels. Stimulation of these points leads to a cascade of change in the body including an increase in blood flow to the area, an increase in local immune response, and release of beta-endorphins, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters to reduce pain. These acupoints are located along meridians or channels that interact with specific internal organs.

In addition to dry needling with thin needles, electroacupuncture, aquapuncture, acupressure, hemoacupuncture, and moxibustion may also be used at these specific points.

For thousands of years, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) has utilized a different language to explain the physiology of the body. In TCVM, Qi is defined at the life force or vital energy of the body. Qi flows through the meridians. If there is a blockage of Qi or a deficiency of Qi, there are physiological effects on the body. In addition, everything in the world, including our bodies, has a balance of Yin and Yang. If something upsets that balance, disease occurs. The goal of acupuncture and the other branches of TCVM is to restore the balance in the body.

The Acupuncture Session

The initial session is 60 minutes and includes a thorough history, including a discussion of your pet’s constitution and personality, behavior, nutrition, activity, sleep-wake patterns, and clinical signs. We will also discuss your goals for therapy and management. All sessions are performed by Jennifer Blair, DVM.

Additional sessions are approximately 45 minutes. For most conditions, we recommend a series of three visits at weekly intervals. While some pets will respond immediately, others will require several sessions before improvement is noted. The total number of treatments depends on the condition. Chronic conditions such as severe arthritis or degenerative changes may require maintenance therapy every 2-4 weeks.

Because we use small needles, pets rarely feel the insertion of the needles. Many pets fall asleep during the visit. If your pet is too anxious or does not do well with the treatments, we can discuss other means for treating his or her condition.

Benefits of Acupuncture

  • Pain relief
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Regulates the immune system
  • Aids in digestion and motility
  • Improves tissue healing
  • Reduces fever
  • Regulates hormones and reproductive function
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Stimulates appetite and energy

What Conditions Would Benefit From Acupuncture?

  • Musculoskeletal problems (i.e. soft tissue pain, arthritis, back pain, degenerative joint disease, hip dysplasia)
  • Gastrointestinal disease (i.e. diarrhea, chronic vomiting, constipation, IBD)
  • Neurological disease or injury (i.e. intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), laryngeal paralysis, paralysis, Wobbler’s syndrome, seizures)
  • Anxiety or other behavioral problems
  • Urinary diseases (i.e. incontinence, kidney disease, chronic infection)
  • Other chronic conditions such as allergies, asthma, endocrine diseases (Cushing’s disease, hyperthyroidism)
  • Cancer or end-of-life geriatric conditions