Integrative veterinary medicine is a holistic approach to animal healing that combines the best of conventional veterinary medicine with complementary and alternative therapies. Acupuncture, nutrition and herbal remedies are just some of the common and effective treatment modalities that are utilized in veterinary as well as human medicine. Our approach at Crown Veterinary Specialists is to treat the whole animal, and all procedures and services are practiced by or in conjunction with veterinarians and veterinary specialists.
Acupuncture has been used in veterinary practice in China for thousands of years. Its techniques have been developed and refined through centuries of practice, science, and research. Its popularity as an effective method for treating pain and dysfunction in veterinary patients has increased dramatically in the last two decades.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into subtle, palpable depressions along anatomically described lines on the body. Stimulation of these sites releases neurotransmitters (chemicals) that exert effects on the body to relieve pain and inflammation, improve blood flow, and stimulate healing. In traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, acupuncture is used to maintain energy balance and flow throughout the body. In this sense, it has been used to treat a number of medical conditions.
What does acupuncture “feel” like? Placement of acupuncture needles is often painless, but can evoke a feeling of heaviness, or a slight cramp. Occasionally, placement may elicit a stronger response/reaction, however, readjustment of the needle often relieves any discomfort felt by your pet.
Will my pet tolerate acupuncture? Most patients are extremely tolerant of acupuncture. Some patients are nervous for the first few sessions but often become more relaxed as they associate acupuncture with feeling better. Occasionally a pet will not tolerate acupuncture needle placement. In this case, acupressure or stimulation of acupuncture points with massage may be utilized.
Commonly treated conditions:
- Musculoskeletal pain- osteoarthritis, tendon/ligament issues, soft tissue injuries
- Cancer pain
- Neurologic disease-paralysis/paresis/pain from intravertebral disc disease, vestibular syndrome, Wobblers syndrome, degenerative myelopathy, seizures
- Skin disease- acral lick granuloma, allergies, atopic dermatitis
- Respiratory disease- asthma, sinusitis, respiratory infection, laryngeal paralysis
- Gastrointestinal disorders- diarrhea, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis
- Kidney/ Liver disease
- Bladder disease- abnormalities of urination
- Behavioral issues- separation anxiety, thunderstorm anxiety, canine cognitive dysfunction, spraying
- End-of-life/hospice care- improve comfort, breathing
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can assist the body in healing itself by affecting certain physiological changes. Acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasms, cause the release of the body’s regulating substances such as: hormones, endorphins (one of the body’s pain control chemicals), cortisol (a natural steroid), stem cells, and helps to balance neurotransmitters. While medication can cause side effects, there are no major side effects associated with acupuncture. Acupuncture’s greatest success is in treating muscular and skeletal disorders, hip dysplasia, arthritis, and back disorders.
What to Expect
Acupuncture treatments typically take 10 to 30 minutes per session.
Weekly treatments are generally prescribed, but can be safely be performed daily for severe conditions such as acute paralysis that can result from disk disease.
Acupuncture treatments are continuous until maintenance is achieved; for example, when the patient is no longer experiencing pain and has regained complete function. Achieving complete function usually takes six treatments.
For cancer pain, treatments may be ongoing for as long as the patient requires acupuncture’s analgesic and anti-nausea effects.