Veterinary Acupuncture

Acupuncture is defined as the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to cause a desired healing effect. This technique has been used in veterinary practice in China for at least 3000 years to treat many ailments. Acupuncture is used all over the world, either by itself or in conjunction with Western medicine, to treat a wide variety of maladies in every species of domestic animal. Acupuncture is not a cure-all, but it can work very well when it is indicated.

At Shiloh Animal Hospital, we believe that dogs and cats benefit from acupuncture similarly to the way humans benefit from this treatment. Acupuncture can assist the body to heal itself by affecting certain physiological changes. Acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasms, and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body’s pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid).

We would be pleased to discuss whether your dog or cat would benefit from acupuncture. Please give us a call to arrange an appointment. Also, please feel free to read more about acupuncture in the frequently asked questions below.

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Acupuncture Frequently Asked Questions

For which conditions is acupuncture indicated?

Acupuncture is indicated mainly for functional problems such as those that involve paralysis, noninfectious inflammation (such as allergies), and pain.

For small animals, the following are some of the general conditions which may be treated with acupuncture:

  • Gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea and vomiting
  • Urinary disorders such as chronic kidney disease and feline urologic syndrome
  • Musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis and acute injury
  • Athletic performance
  • Cancer pain and/or side effects of cancer therapies

What will my pet feel during an acupuncture treatment?

Like humans, most dogs and cats feel very relaxed simply because of the release of endorphins soon after the first acupuncture needle is inserted . They may experience a brief moment of sensitivity as the needle penetrates the skin in certain sensitive areas. Once the needles are in place, however, most animals relax and will often times fall asleep during treatment. Some pets with high levels of anxiety or fear might take longer to reach a relaxed state, but they will often become more relaxed with subsequent treatments.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when it is administered by a properly trained veterinarian. Side effects of acupuncture are rare, but they do exist. Your pet’s condition might seem worse for up to 48 hours after a treatment. Other animals might become sleepy or lethargic for 24 hours after acupuncture. These effects are an indication that some physiological changes are developing, and they are most often followed by an improvement in your pet’s condition.

How often does my dog or cat need a treatment, and how long do they last?

The length and frequency of acupuncture treatments depends on the condition of the patient and the method of stimulation that is used by us. Stimulation of an individual acupuncture point may take as little as 10 seconds or as much as 30 minutes. A simple acute problem, such as a sprain, may require only one treatment, whereas more severe or chronic ailments may need several treatments.

When multiple treatments are necessary, they usually begin intensively and are tapered to maximum efficiency. Patients often start with 1-3 treatments per week for 4-6 weeks. A positive response is usually seen after the first to third treatments. Once a maximum positive response is achieved (usually after 4-8 treatments), treatments are tapered so the greatest amount of symptom free time elapses between them. Many animals with chronic conditions can taper to 2-4 treatments per year.

Animals undergoing athletic training can benefit from acupuncture as often as twice a week to once a month. The frequency depends on the intensity of the training and the condition of the athlete.