Acupuncture for Animals
This is Baxter having his regular veterinary acupuncture treatment with me. You can see from his facial expression and dilated pupils (and the fact that he has come to sit on my knee!) that he is in the phase of the treatment, usually around 5 minutes after the needles are placed, where endorphins are released and the patient becomes very relaxed. Can you spot any of the tiny needles?
Veterinary acupuncture has evolved from the ancient art of placing needles into particular locations on the body in order to alleviate pain, improve recovery rates and increase resistance to disease. It has been practiced by the Chinese and other Eastern cultures for thousands of years and may be used to treat a wide variety of illnesses in both people and animals.
Acupuncture treatment should always follow an accurate diagnosis of the problem and a full appraisal of all of the treatment options. In many cases acupuncture is best used in conjunction with conventional medicine, but in some situations it can be appropriate as a sole treatment. This can be especially beneficial if the side effects of traditional medicines are not well tolerated in a patient, as treatment can, in some cases, reduce the patient’s requirements for medications.
Pain is the most common indication for acupuncture, particularly chronic pain such as arthritis, but it can be very useful for muscular strains and spinal problems too. Acupuncture can also be of great benefit to medical conditions such as gastrointestinal diseases, urinary disorders, epilepsy and much more. As with any treatment, there are a small percentage of animals that do not respond.
Most animals, even including cats and rabbits, accept acupuncture treatment without any stress or discomfort. The needles are very thin and the majority are inserted into sites that are not painful. During treatment many animals become more relaxed or even sleepy and this can continue for the rest of the day. Needles are usually left in for 10-20 minutes but each treatment is uniquely tailored to the pet’s condition on that day. Occasionally afterwards pets can seem almost euphoric (those endorphins again!) so take care that they don’t overdo it.
Treatments are usually weekly for the first 3-4 weeks and the frequency can then usually be decreased as the improvement lasts for longer. Owners quickly recognise the signs that indicate a ‘top-up’ treatment is required. Occasionally pets are a little stiff or uncomfortable for a day or two after a treatment, this usually only happens after the first one or two treatments and can be easily managed with rest; in a way this is a good sign as it suggests that the animal is likely to respond to acupuncture in the long term.
Many insurance companies now recognise acupuncture as a successful treatment for many conditions and the majority of insurance companies will cover the costs involved. If you are in any doubt check your policy or contact your individual company for more information.
The acupuncture for animals is a referral service, so you continue with your existing vet for all other aspects of your animal’s care. Prior to your first appointment I will review the full medical history and, when appropriate, discuss the case with your regular vet.
Veterinary staff please click here for more information regarding referrals.