Acupuncture for Small Animals
What is acupuncture and how does it work?
Acupuncture has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and more recently, has gained popularity and credibility in western medicine. There are over 2,000 acupuncture points spread across the body which can be stimulated by pressure or the insertion of thin, solid needles. Stimulation of these points restores proper energy flow (referred to as Qi, pronounced ‘chee’) throughout the body. Disruption of Qi often results in disease and acupuncture can help bring the body’s processes back into balance. Further, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has demonstrated that stimulation of acupuncture points results in specific changes in the central nervous system.
What are the benefits of acupuncture?
Acupuncture results in the release of endogenous endorphins and opioids. It causes local vasodilation that increases blood flow to specific areas of the body. Acupuncture provides pain relief and nerve stimulation. Acupuncture has very few side effects. It can safely be combined with common pharmaceutical therapies (ex. Carprofen).
How often should my pet receive acupuncture?
Initially, acupuncture appointments are scheduled more closely together (ex. Three appointments, each seven days apart). Since the effects of acupuncture are cumulative, it may take a few sessions to see the benefits. A minimum of three visits is recommended to determine if the use of acupuncture is effective. Typically, as your pet’s condition improves, visits can be spaced further apart. Depending on the condition, regular ongoing appointments may be needed.
What are the side effects of acupuncture?
There may be mild bleeding at the site of needle insertion, but this is rare. In traditional Chinese medicine, this is seen as release of ‘heat’ and is a good thing. Your pet may appear sore or tired for 24-48 hours following their acupuncture treatment. This is normal and your pet should be allowed to rest after their appointment.
Is acupuncture painful?
Needles used in acupuncture are much smaller than those used for injections. Their insertion is virtually painless but may cause a tingling sensation pets are not familiar with. This may cause some discomfort.
What conditions can acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture can treat a variety of conditions. In most cases, it is best to combine acupuncture with western medicine principles. A full exam may be necessary to determine if acupuncture is right for your pet. Below is a list of conditions acupuncture may improve.
- Arthritis and Degenerative Joint Disease (ex. Chronic Joint Pain, Hip Dysplasia)
- Intervertebral Disc Disease
- Nerve Pain
- Pain Associated with Surgery (ex. Spay, Neuter, Cruciate Repair)
- Traumatic Injuries
- Gastrointestinal Problems (ex. Diarrhea, Vomiting)
- Poor Appetite
Who can perform acupuncture?
Only a licensed veterinarian may legally perform acupuncture on animals. Veterinarians may complete specific training/schooling to gain a thorough understanding of the principles of acupuncture.
How can I make an appointment?
If you have questions about acupuncture or think your pet would be a good candidate, ask your veterinarian today! If you’d like to schedule an appointment call our office at (315) 766-2178.
Written by Casey Hagg
Casey Hagg is a veterinarian and a certified veterinary acupuncturist. Dr. Hagg grew up in Corning, NY and has always been a lover of animals. When she was 10 years old, her best friend was a black lab named Peppermint! She earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental engineering from Cornell University. After graduating from Cornell, Dr. Hagg spent three years as an Outward Bound wilderness instructor for at-risk teens across the east coast. During vet school, she studied mixed animal acupuncture at the Chi Institute and is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA). She loves being a veterinarian and is passionate about promoting the health and welfare of your fur babies (and your feathered friends and your scaly pals). Dr. Hagg’s husband is currently studying to be an elementary school teacher. Dr. Hagg and Mr. Burgess met while they were both instructors for Outward Bound. They share a love for the outdoors and adventure. Together they are proud pup parents to Dina (Chocolate Lab and Australian Shepherd) and Tyson (Black Lab and Jack Russel). They hope to own some land and start a family farm soon.
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