Acupuncture for Animals

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one branch of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). The purpose of acupuncture treatment is to address imbalances in qi (pronounced chee) flow or the body's natural flow of energy. Disposable, sterile needles are inserted into acupuncture points on meridians or channels with the goal of restoring proper qi flow.

How does acupuncture work?

There are several proposed theories of why acupuncture actually works. Numerous western medical studies have been done and continue to be done to try to prove or disprove the efficacy of acupuncture. Due to the nature of the goals of treatment and the treatment itself, producing repeatable, definitive results are difficult, if not impossible, so the results of such studies continue to be debated by practitioners in both the human and veterinary medical fields. Currently, it is thought that by stimulating an acupuncture point, certain physiologic responses take place in the individual that account for the response to treatment. Those responses can be classified as:

1. Altering pain transmission

2. Causing the release of endorphins or other neurotransmitters which create pain relief

3. Actually causing inflammation by inserting a needle in a point

4. The bioelectric theory in which the body's magnetic field is altered by needling points

Vets say acupuncture can benefit older pets
Veterinarian Jennifer Smallwood started acupuncture while working as a horse vet in Kentucky. Now she uses it often on older pets at her Dallas practice. She talks to Good Day about how it can help animals live a better life without drugs.

How can acupuncture be used to treat animals?

Acupuncture can be used in animals for numerous purposes. The most common cases include chronic pain due to arthritis or injury, as well as reproductive issues such as infertility and irregular cycles. Acupuncture can help with gastrointestinal discomfort and motility disorders, allergies, pain related to cancer, and appetite stimulation.

Does it hurt the animal?

Generally, it is pain-free. Most animals hardly even notice what is going on. People getting acupuncture report a warm sensation after needles are placed. Many animals become sleepy during treatment, presumably due to the secretion of endorphins and enkephalins.

How big are the needles?

The needles are very thin, sterile, and flexible. They range in length based on the location and size of the animal; anywhere from a quarter of an inch to approximately three inches long.

How many needles are used?

Each treatment is different, but most commonly anywhere from 4-25 needles are used.

How long is the acupuncture session?

Treatment sessions usually last about 30 minutes, but depend on the type of acupuncture(electro, aqua, moxabustion, dry needle) and the condition being treated.Most treatment protocols entail an initial exam and treatment followed by 2-4 treatments ranging from 10-21 days apart.

Where does a session take place?

Treatments take place in the clinic.

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