Pet Acupuncture: What is it and how can it help?

dog having acupuncture needle in neck
Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has been used successfully to treat animals and humans for at least 2000 years. It works by using fine needles to stimulate certain points along the body’s meridians (or energy channels). This helps the body to heal itself and restore itself to balance. Acupuncture stimulates physiological changes that affect all systems throughout the body. It can also stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasms, and release endorphins (the body’s natural pain killer) or cortisol (a natural steroid and anti-inflammatory). It is not a cure-all, but can work well where indicted when used alone or in combination with conventional veterinary medicine.

Benefits of Acupuncture

  • Relieves pain
  • Stimulates the body’s natural defence system
  • Effective for a wide range of problems including chronic disease
  • An alternative option when harmful side effects of a drug are a problem
  • When surgery is not a feasible option acupuncture can be beneficial
  • Helps recovery post-operatively

When to use Acupuncturecat lying on table having acupuncture

Before you decide any treatment approach it is important to get a good diagnosis and then look at all the treatment options, including acupuncture and those offered by conventional medicine. To get a diagnosis your pet may need to have blood and urine tests or x-rays. Acupuncture often complements the conventional treatment of veterinary disorders.

How will my pet react to Acupuncture?

When the needles is place there can be a brief moment of sensitivity. However, most animals tolerate this well, and once the needles are in place they generally relax or even fall asleep! The needles are very fine- much thinner than the needles we use to give injections.

Trigger point therapy

A trigger point is an irritable, taut band of muscle which is painful when pressed. Trigger points give rise to pain which is frequently chronic. Many dogs with chronic pain and lameness will have trigger points, and they may have a history of poor response to conventional medications. Affected dogs may be young athletic dogs, or older dogs with mobility issues. Dogs with chronic back pain may also have trigger points which increase their discomfort. Trigger points are treated in a number of different ways. We may use a combination of acupuncture, massage and stretching or hand held TENS pen.

Trigger points often arise secondary to other problems eg: osteoarthritis, spondylosis, hip dysplasia and spinal problems. A series of up to four treatments may be necessary to eliminate the point. We will also show you massage and stretch techniques to do at home to help prevent recurrence. Appropriate exercise and warm up and cool down programs may help stop trigger points forming.

Dog AcupunctureHow often does my pet need to be treated?

The length and frequency of treatments depends on the problem and the condition of your pet. The initial session is 60 minutes and will include an assessment of your pet’s condition, acupuncture treatment +/- trigger point therapy if needed. Most subsequent consultations are 40 minutes, however if acupuncture plus trigger point therapy are required sessions will be 60 minutes. It may take 4-6 sessions to know if acupuncture will be effective, although a response may be seen after the first treatment and improvements after the third treatment. Treatments are usually once every 1-2 weeks. The long-term goal is to reduce the number of treatments to the minimum that is required to be effective (usually every 4-6 weeks).

What is Acupuncture used to treat?

Musculoskeletal Conditions

  • Arthritis
  • Back problems (intervertebral disc disease, pain)
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Muscle strains & spasms
  • Cruciate ligament disease
  • Luxating Patella

Gastro-intestinal disorders

  • Chronic constipation
  • Megacolon

Respiratory Disorder

  • Feline Asthma
  • Sinusitis
  • Chronic cat flu & sneezing
  • Bronchitis

Urinary Disorders

  • Cystitis
  • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
  • Incontinence
  • Chronic Renal Failure

Skin Conditions

  • Lick granulomas & hotspots
  • Superficial wounds. Burns & ulcers
  • Scar tissue

Neurological Conditions

  • Certain Types of paralysis & nerve injury

If you would like to know more about pet acupuncture, we strongly recommend that you drop into the clinic, give us a call or make an appointment with Dr Liz.

Bentons Road Vet combining Natural Health & Modern Medicine