Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into specific points in the body to produce a healing response. It has been used for thousands of years to treat illnesses as well as for preventative care. From a Western medical perspective, acupuncture can assist the body to heal itself by affecting certain physiologic changes, such as increased blood circulation, decreased inflammation, stimulation of nerves, and release of pain-relieving hormones.
Is Acupuncture Painful?
The insertion of acupuncture needles by a trained veterinarian is virtually painless. Very fine, small needles are used, and often, once the needles are in place, patients will rest comfortably, sometimes even becoming sleepy! Needles will remain in place for 5-15 minutes, depending on the condition being treated.
Occasionally electroacupuncture may be offered. Electroacupuncture is a form of acupuncture by which a small electric current is passed between two needles, particularly helpful for treating underlying pain, such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. This form of acupuncture is not painful either, but it does require a patient to be able to lie relatively still for 15-20 minutes. Most dogs will take a nap while we do this! Owners are encouraged to be present for their pet’s acupuncture session, though not required.
Hello, I’m Dr. Moore. There's two types of acupuncture that I do. Just dry needles, which is maybe what most people have seen pictures of. It's just the insertion of needles in acupuncture points. I also do electroacupuncture, think of it like a deeper stimulation of those acupuncture points.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or opioid-like medications, of course, they all come with their set of side effects, and chronic medications can sometimes lead to issues, so acupuncture is a really alternative nice to be able to manage pain. Of course, that's not the only thing, but that's the most common thing that I use acupuncture for.
I think it's a really great tool to have when you're looking at treating the animal holistically. There are people that don't want to reach for drugs exclusively and want to try more natural approaches like physical therapy, Chinese herbal medicine, and acupuncture just kind of fits into that non-invasive, drug-free, alternative therapy.
There's some people that seek out acupuncture alone. That's really what they're after is an Eastern medicine approach. And then other people that maybe I'm treating them in a Western medicine manner and we've hit a plateau, and I feel like we could do more, and I'll make the suggestion, and sometimes an owner's interested, and sometimes they're not.
Of course, she's an older kitty, and we don't expect her to run and play like a two-year-old cat at the end of this, but we want quality of life for her. We want her to not be in pain. We want her to be social, like she was previously. We want her to be able to get to her food bowl, to her litter box, go wherever she wants to in the house comfortably. That's our goal with Tamale.
What conditions is Acupuncture Indicated for my Pet?
Some more common canine and feline health concerns include:
- Pain (acute or chronic)
- Hip Dysplasia
- Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
- Traumatic Nerve Injury
- Kidney disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Liver disease
- Urinary Incontinence