Acupuncture for Your Pet – By: Dr. Melissa Knieriem
Acupuncture for Your Pet – By: Dr. Melissa KnieriemDate: March 1, 2016
Acupuncture is a form of medicine that helps the body heal itself by stimulating certain points on the body with very small sterile needles. It has been used for thousands of years in people and animals. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that veterinary acupuncture began in the United States. As with their own health care, people are more frequently seeking out alternatives to standard western medical treatments. Acupuncture is a way of bringing the body back into balance and allowing it to heal itself. Current medical science is able to demonstrate some of the ways acupuncture has its effects. Many acupuncture points are located in areas with a high density of free nerve endings, small arterioles, lymphatics and mast cells.
Some commonly asked questions from clients about acupuncture include:
Will it hurt my pet?
Acupuncture needles nearly as small as a hair and normally do not hurt. Occasionally an acupuncture point on the body can be sensitive and the patient may react as the site is stimulated or as the needle passing through the skin. Over 95% of patients are comfortable with the treatments. Most patients relax during the treatment and want to lie down.
What’s the evidence that it works?
There are many studies showing that stimulation of acupuncture points induces release of beta-endorphins, serotonin and other neurotransmitters. There are 349 animal specific articles on the effects of acupuncture and over 22,000 as of 2015. Acupuncture has been shown to have the following physiologic effects: pain relief, promoting tissue healing, regulating gi motility, anti-inflammatory effects, immune and hormonal regulation, and anti-febrile effects.
What medical issues can acupuncture be used to treat?
- Musculoskeletal problems– back pain, disc problems, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, and muscle soreness
- Neurological Problems– Seizures, weakness from chronic disc disease, radial nerve, laryngeal or facial paralysis
- Gastrointestinal disorders—Diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, poor appetite
- Chemotherapy– Minimizing side effects in cancer patients
- Respiratory conditions such as feline asthma
- Skin conditions such as atopy, lick granulomas,
- Immune system disorders
- Other chronic conditions such as kidney failure, liver disease, Cushing’s disease, Behavior problems and weakness
- Hospice care
- Acupuncture is also used to maintain balance and health as preventative medicine
How soon should I see results?
Many times owners observe improvement in their pets’ conditions after the first treatment. Occasionally patients can appear worse or sleep more for up to 24 hours immediately following an acupuncture treatment. This is usually followed by significant improvement in their condition. Four to six treatments should be completed before accurately assessing the effectiveness of acupuncture.
How often does it need to be done?
Pets are typically treated once weekly for four to six weeks, but may receive treatments as frequently as three times a week. After the initial treatment period, the intervals between sessions are extended based on your pet’s response and level of progress. A treatment session typically takes 30 minutes. Insertion of the tiny needles is not painful for most animals, and many patients relax during treatment. It is important to inform your veterinarian of any changes in medication or medical conditions at the start of each treatment session as this may affect the acupuncture points your Doctor chooses.