Acupuncture is a method of relieving pain, and promoting wellness through the stimulation of specific points on the body. This stimulation can be through the insertion of very fine needles and/or pressure or massage applied to these points, also referred to as acupoints.
There are 173 acupoints in animals, most of which are motor points located in areas where there is a high density of free nerve endings, lymphatic vessels, small arterioles and mast cells. Modern research has shown that stimulation of these acupoints release neurotransmitters such as beta-endorphin and serotonin which help to alleviate pain and produce a sense of well-being – much like traditional pain-relief medications do.
Acupuncture needles are far thinner than a standard syringe needle – more like a fine wire. As such, many pets don’t feel the insertion of the acupuncture needles at all. Your pet may feel a muscle contraction or sensation of heaviness for a few seconds when the needle is first inserted. Over 95% of patients are comfortable with acupuncture and some pets will actually fall asleep during a treatment.
How Acupuncture Benefits Your Pet
In our hospitals’ practice, acupuncture is used as an adjunct to traditional medicine or when traditional treatments may not be appropriate for a pet. For instance, there are common pain medications that pets with chronic renal failure should not take. In these cases, acupuncture can be used for pain management without compromising or harming the kidneys.
Acupuncture’s inherent safety makes it an ideal option for health management for geriatric pets, but its benefits don’t stop there – puppies and kittens reap the benefits of acupuncture when it is used to help balance the pet’s constitution, in essence, getting them on the right track from the start to help prevent the formation of illness or disease later on.
When You Should Consider Acupuncture for Your Pet
Speak to Dr. Brazer, she can assess your pet’s specific needs and then suggest a treatment plan that is best for your pet. Acupuncture can be used as a general Wellness enhancement or for specific conditions including but not limited to:
- Pain management (arthritis, muscular pain, disc problems, joint disease)
- Chronic renal failure
- Congestive heart failure
- Gastro-intestinal problems (e.g., Irritable Bowel Disease)
- Chronic inflammatory illnesses
- Neurological problems (seizures, radial and facial nerve paralysis)
- Skin allergies
- Behavioral issues (e.g., fear of thunderstorms)
Acupuncture is extremely safe, and is often used when traditional methods of treatment – particularly in geriatric or seriously ill pets – may produce side effects that could negatively impact a pet’s health. Fractures, pregnancy, infectious diseases and open wounds are some instances where use of acupuncture may not be advisable, but one of our veterinarians will be able to make this determination for you upon examining your pet.
Call us to set up an acupuncture appointment with Dr. Colette Brazer who performs our acupuncture treatments, or ask one of our other veterinarians about acupuncture when you’re in for a visit with us.