Veterinary acupuncture.

Did you know that pets can benefit from acupuncture just like people? It may seem a little out there, but veterinary acupuncture has a place in pet care, and Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is here to explain.

More Than Pins and Needles

In human medicine, acupuncture is regarded as an alternative option to Western medicine. Originating in China thousands of years ago, it has been long used to manage and treat a variety of conditions.

The basic principles of traditional Chinese acupuncture lie in correcting the flow of chi (qi), or energy, through the body. The idea is that chi flows along predetermined pathways which can cause problems when disrupted.  

In an acupuncture treatment, the strategic placement of needles stimulate blood flow along a certain pathway of energy, correcting these problems.

A more Western attempt to explain how acupuncture works suggests that needle placement stimulates neural-hormonal pathways. This results in the release of hormones that can have effects that include pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Uses of Veterinary Acupuncture

Veterinary acupuncture has been being utilized almost since the time that the ancient Chinese started to utilize it for people. The potential uses are almost endless, although some are more common than others. 

Some examples of uses of acupuncture in pets include:

  • Cancer management—While acupuncture can’t cure cancer, it can help to manage side effects like lethargy, nausea, and pain that improve a patient’s quality of life. 
  • Gastrointestinal problems—Changes in gut motility and blood flow can affect the function of the digestive tract, resulting in vomiting or diarrhea. Acupuncture can help get these things back on track. 
  • Hormonal or metabolic conditions—Conditions that result from a hormone imbalance such as Cushing’s syndrome, hypothyroidism, or diabetes mellitus may benefit from acupuncture treatment. 
  • Nerve pain and intervertebral disc disease—Acupuncture can help these problems by helping to manage pain and inflammation
  • Osteoarthritis—Pain, inflammation, and decreased mobility may all improve with the use of acupuncture. 
  • Painful or inflammatory conditions—Any condition resulting in pain and inflammation can be improved with acupuncture. From allergic skin disease to autoimmune disorders to a traumatic injury. 
  • Seizure disorders—There is evidence that acupuncture may be helpful for pets with seizure disorders, in particular idiopathic epilepsy

What Pet Owners Need to Know

When you start to understand the potential uses of veterinary acupuncture, it is easy to see how it might fit into your pet’s care plan. 

If you are considering how acupuncture might benefit your pet, you likely have some questions. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The tiny needles used in acupuncture are generally very well tolerated by animals.
  • The number, length, and frequency of acupuncture sessions recommended will vary by type, intensity, and duration of the problem being treated.
  • Most often several sessions are necessary before improvement is seen.
  • Sessions may take between twenty minutes and an hour, with initial sessions frequently being longer.
  • Mild soreness, bleeding, or bruising at the site of needle insertion can occur, but generally veterinary acupuncture side effects are limited or non-existent.
  • There are very few contraindications for acupuncture, although certain types of acupuncture are not used in conjunction with certain conditions.
  • Cost varies depending on the size of your pet, medical needs, and location.
  • Acupuncture is performed by a veterinarian who is a certified veterinary acupuncturist (CVA). 

Veterinary acupuncture can be a great tool and an excellent adjunct to more traditional medicine for many pets. If you have questions about how your pet might benefit, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are in full support of anything that can help animals.