Acupuncture is an ancient method of therapy and is used in a wide variety of animal disorders. Acupuncture was first described by the ancient Chinese and consisted of stimulating designated and precise points on the surface of the body by the insertion of fine solid needles or by application of heat (Moxibustion). More recently a variety of techniques that utilize modern technology have been developed including electronic stimulation, the implantation of gold beads, and low level laser acupuncture.
Veterinary acupuncture is a healing science that deals with the individual animal as a living, energetic being, rather than a catalogue of signs and symptoms. Effective veterinary acupuncture practice is based upon both the natural and scientific aspects of healing. The training of a veterinary acupuncturist includes both Eastern and Western methods in a synthesis of medical insight.
How does veterinary acupuncture differ from western veterinary medicine?
Western medicine focuses on the diagnosis of the underlying disease process and structural changes. Specific treatment, usually the prescribing of medication, is given to correct that specific health problem. Veterinary acupuncture concentrates on evidence of abnormal changes in normal function that underlie the presenting symptoms of the organ(s) involved. Treatment consists of stimulating carefully selected points. This treatment may be localized, but often is generalized to the whole body and may improve other existing problems.
In clinical practice, veterinary acupuncture is utilized for its diagnostic, therapeutic, and pain relieving properties. Hypersensitivity at particular points involved in skin to viscera reflexes can be used as a diagnostic aid in conjunction with diagnostic tests routinely used in western veterinary medicine. Therapeutic uses of acupuncture are discussed in the following section.
A vast amount of knowledge is needed before acupuncture can be practiced successfully. Acupuncture can be regarded as a self-regulating system of medicine. The nerve to endocrine responses activated by the needles are the very ones the body uses to regulate its own physiological processes.
Knowledge of veterinary anatomy and medicine is essential to the practice of veterinary acupuncture. Experienced veterinarians who are equally trained in veterinary acupuncture can usefully apply veterinary acupuncture in the treatment of many diseases.
Can western veterinary medicine and veterinary acupuncture be combined?
Yes! Most veterinary practitioners who perform acupuncture combine what is useful from each source. Veterinary acupuncture is often helpful in treating conditions sometimes unresponsive to western drug oriented treatments, such as muscle spasm, or some kinds of intervertebral disc disease. In some instances, certain medications will interfere with the effectiveness of acupuncture by decreasing the sensitivity or responsiveness of the body. Although, most notably infections and fractures or tumors normally respond more rapidly to western medicine. Frequently, however, the two approaches can be combined to the patient’s benefit.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture has been used for over 3,500 years in China. It is still a favored treatment for one quarter of the world’s population. Most side effects are minor and very infrequent. Acupuncture is usually performed with thin flexible needles made of stainless steel. The needle is not medicated. The needle stimulates the points to balance the body’s energy. Needle insertion is usually not painful. If the animal experiences discomfort, we simply choose another point to stimulate. We allow the animal to have a say in his or her treatment. Acupuncture should be a pleasant experience for both you and your pet.
How often and for how many treatments will my pet be treated?
Usually a treatment lasts from 10 seconds to 30 minutes depending upon the problem that is being treated. Treatments may be required weekly for a series of 3-4 weeks. Sometimes improvement is not noted after the first few treatments. We ask that pets commit to at least three acupuncture sessions if they wish to try this therapy for their pets.