helping dogs and cats live better through alternative medicine
Acupuncture for Pets
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points throughout the body to cause a response in distant areas. This can be done through simple pressure applied to the point (acupressure), placing very thin needles in the point (acupuncture), placing small amounts of liquid at the point (aquapuncture) and even stimulation of the point through laser or electricity (electroacupuncture).
Acupuncture is just one component of traditional Chinese medicine.
Chinese medicine also incorporates forms of physical therapy, meditative movements, food therapy and herbs in its attempt to help treat and prevent illness. In our Western culture, we tend to wait until disease is present before we seek treatment. In traditional Chinese medicine, the goal is to keep the patient well-balanced enough that illness does not readily occur and that the effects of aging are minimized for as long as possible.
How does acupuncture work for pets?
For so many, traditional western medicine is highly effective and should not be removed from a patient’s care. Rather, alternative therapies should be used to simply augment the treatment plan. Alternative medicine looks at the body in a more integrative fashion rather than focusing on an individual disease or organ. Each organ or system can dramatically affect another, which can create unexpected symptoms. Once you understand the interdependence of each system, it is easier to understand why the body needs to be treated as a whole rather than as any single part or process.
The organs and organ systems are interlinked through multiple channels called meridians, which are nothing more than communication pathways. Some we are familiar with such as nerve pathways, blood vessels, hormones, and the lymph system.
There is a new theory that the fascia I planes are also involved in communication throughout the body (these basically hold our bodies together-the white stuff around muscles). All these systems work together to interconnect the body. These systems are why you can put a needle in one place and get a response somewhere else.
The body is constantly changing and being acted upon by various forces, including environmental, dietary, emotional and stress-related factors. When the body fails to adjust to these forces or is not getting the support it needs nutritionally or otherwise, an imbalance can result. This lack of balance allows disease processes to take hold and progress more easily.
Imagine a strand of Christmas lights that cease to work because that one bulb went out. All the lights are interconnected. When you find and repair the one broken bulb, they all work again. The same principle applies to what we are trying to do with acupuncture: acupuncture works by repairing the broken or stressed out part of the body and rebalancing it so everything can work more efficiently and smoothly.
What are the risks of using acupuncture as a treatment for animals?
There really are no risks. First and foremost, we use sterile needles for each patient. Secondly, if not done properly, the worst that can happen is that the acupuncture treatment won’t work. But it is very difficult to cause harm provided damaged skin and tumors are not directly needled.
The most common use for acupuncture in western medicine is for pain control, anxiety and stress relief, and infertility. However, acupuncture can be used to treat or improve a wide variety of ailments, from arthritis and back problems to kidney disease and seizures.
How long does it take per session?
The initial session takes the longest, as it requires a physical examination and the collecting of a fair amount of patient history. Once these tasks are completed, then a plan of treatment can be formulated. Generally we try to allow 45 to 60 minutes for the first treatment, then 30 to 45 minutes for subsequent treatments. Some clients prefer to drop their pets off, while others like to be present for the treatment.
How long until we see the results of acupuncture for my pet?
Every patient is different. Some see results within two to three sessions; for others, it is closer to six sessions. Because of this, we encourage a minimum of six sessions. We initially see patients weekly to every other week depending on the problem and its severity. Once we have seen improvement, we will decrease the frequency of visits until we reach a point of maintenance. This may be every few months to once every 6-12 months. Again, each patient and problem varies.