Acupuncture for Your Pet

Acupuncture is an ancient medical art that stimulates the body’s natural healing ability and increases comfort. It involves the insertion of specialized sterile, thin tapered needles at certain precise points in the body. Some of the many conditions that may benefit from acupuncture therapy are any musculoskeletal or neurological conditions such as: cervical (neck) disc disease, thoracolumbar (back) disc disease, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, vestibular syndrome, facial paralysis, lick granulomas, as well as urinary tract disease, allergic skin problems and gastrointestinal problems including pancreatitis, vomiting and diarrhea.

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Modern science has found that acupuncture causes a release of chemicals such as endorphins (that reduce pain and promote healing) and other neurochemicals into the spinal cord, brain, and muscles. Acupuncture can also trigger secondary reactions to release further neurotransmitters and hormones that enhance the body’s internal regulation and recovery.

A complete history, physical exam and diagnostic evaluation (that may include laboratory tests or x-rays) are essential before beginning any acupuncture therapy. Please have your medical records and any recent x-rays, lab work and surgery notes faxed or e-mailed to us before your appointment. Bring a record (or bottles) of any medications your pet is taking, including supplements. Acupuncture is not a magic cure; it is a medical therapy. The success varies between individuals and will depend on the severity of the problem and how long your pet has had the problem being treated. Several treatments may be necessary (usually three to five) before an improvement is noticeable.

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After the initial exam and consultation, treatments usually last 15-20 minutes and are started 2 X weekly for acute conditions and 1 X weekly for chronic (arthritis) conditions and continued until sustained improvement is noticed. Treatments are then given less frequently and eventually stopped or provided on an as needed basis. A single treatment will not be sufficient to “cure” your pet. Pets that are paralyzed or partially paralyzed after receiving spinal surgery to relieve significant spinal cord compression require several months of acupuncture treatments as the neurological tissue heals slowly. Acupuncture has a neuro-protective effect as the body heals.

Common treatment responses include relaxation and an urge to sleep from the increase of natural circulating endorphins. Sometimes animals may become sore for several days as cases of chronic pain are being treated due to the acupuncture stimulating the healing process. More often, animals appear to move with less discomfort and may become more active or playful. Please continue to follow your veterinarian’s instructions on activity restriction for your pet’s post-operative or medical condition.

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Animals must be monitored and observed during treatment to prevent them from removing, eating, or bending needles. Please allow our staff to hold your pet while the doctor inserts the needles and during treatment. Massage therapy may be used along with acupuncture to relax your pet and improve circulation. In order to be a good candidate this therapy, your pet must be comfortable remaining still for needle insertion and for the 12 – 15 minutes after the needles are in place. Many pets seem to enjoy their acupuncture treatments, and after several sessions, many formerly nervous pets actually look forward to their acupuncture and massage sessions. Pets that are pregnant, have cancer, heart disease or infectious diseases are not good candidates for this therapy. If you and your veterinarian feel that your pet could benefit from acupuncture therapy, please contact us at Warren Animal Hospital 615-895-8126 to schedule an appointment for your pet. Consider “Laserpuncture” with our therapeutic laser if you feel your pet will not do well with traditional acupuncture involving needles, but could benefit from this form of therapy.