Veterinary Acupuncture

Veterinary Acupuncture is One of Four Branches of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary acupuncture on dogVeterinary acupuncture has been used as a veterinary practice in China for thousands of years.  It is one of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine along with food therapy, Tui-na, and herbal medicine.  Acupuncture can help your dog or cat lead a healthier, more comfortable life by relieving or eliminating many common ailments.  When veterinary acupuncture is performed by a qualified veterinarian, it can help some of the following issues:

  • Musculoskeletal (such as arthritis)
  • Skin problems (relieve the itch and scratch without drugs)
  • Respiratory (such as feline asthma)
  • Tummy problems (diarrhea)
  • Selected reproductive problems

Veterinary Acupuncture is One of the Safest Forms of Medical Treatments

Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatments for dogs and cats.  The American Veterinary Medical Associations says that acupuncture is considered a valid modality for veterinary care. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), modern scientists have been able to show that acupuncture works in humans and animals to promote health and pain relief.

When Modern Veterinary Services are Combined with Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an additional tool, for veterinarians that know how to properly use it.  While it is not right for all conditions, when it is used in conjunction with modern veterinary services, it is very useful in making sure you pets receives the best veterinary care possible. While conventional veterinary medicine is a powerful tool in the diagnosis and treatment of disease or trauma and acute injuries, veterinary acupuncture is a compelling tool for many long-term chronic problems.

Animal Hospital of Dunedin is Proud to Offer Veterinary Acupuncture

veterinary acupuncture on catIf you are interested in learning more about acupuncture for your pet or think your pet could benefit from it or any of the other branches of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, call the Animal Hospital of Dunedin today.  We are proud to offer the most modern veterinary services available while offering acupuncture and other traditional Chinese veterinary treatments.  Located in Dunedin Florida, Animal Hospital of Dunedin is just minutes away from Clearwater, Palm Harbor & Oldsmar. Contact us today to make your appointment for your pet to be sure they are receiving the best of modern and western veterinary treatment available.
Our Veterinarian’s Certifications
Dr. Greg Todd, DVM, CVA
Dr. Michael Bartholomew DVM,CVA, CVH, CVT, CVFT


Veterinary Acupuncture FAQ

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture may be defined as the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to cause a desired healing effect. This technique has been used in veterinary practice in China for at least 3000 years to treat many ailments. The Chinese also used acupuncture as preventive medicine against such problems as founder and colic in horses.

Acupuncture is used all over the world, either by itself or in conjunction with Western medicine, to treat a wide variety of maladies in every species of domestic animal and in exotic animals. Modern veterinary acupuncturists use solid needles, hypodermic needles, bleeding needles, electricity, heat, massage, and low power lasers to stimulate acupuncture points. Acupuncture is not a cure-all, but can work very well when it is indicated.

For which condition is acupuncture indicated?

Acupuncture is indicated mainly for functional problems such as those that involve paralysis, noninfectious inflammation (such as allergies), and pain. For small animals, the following are some of the general conditions which may be treated with acupuncture:

  • Musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis or vertebral disc pathology
  • Skin problems, such as lick granuloma
  • Respiratory problems, such as feline asthma
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea

Selected reproductive problems

For larger animals, acupuncture is again commonly used for functional problems. Some of the general conditions where it might be applied are the following:

  • Musculoskeletal problems, such as sore backs or downer cow syndrome
  • Nervous system problems, such as facial nerve paralysis
  • Skin problems, such as allergic dermatitis
  • Respiratory problems, such as heaves and "Bleeders"
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as non-surgical colic

Selected reproductive disorders

In addition, regular acupuncture treatments can treat minor sports injuries as they occur and help to keep muscles and tendons resistant to injury. World class professional and amateur athletes often use acupuncture as a routine part of their training. If your animals are involved in any athletic endeavor, such as racing, jumping, or showing, acupuncture can keep them in top physical condition.

How does acupuncture work?

According to ancient Chinese medical philosophy, disease is the result of an imbalance of energy in the body. Acupuncture is believed to balance this energy, and thereby assist the body to heal disease.

In Western terms, acupuncture can assist the body to heal itself by affecting certain physiological changes. For example, acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasm, and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body's pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid). Although many of acupuncture's physiological effects have been studied, many more are still unknown. Further research must be done to discover all of acupuncture's effects and its proper uses in veterinary medicine.

Is acupuncture painful?

For small animals, the insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless. The larger needles necessary for large animals may cause some pain as the needle passes through the skin. In all animals, once the needles are in place, there should be no pain.

Most animals become very relaxed and may even become sleepy. Nevertheless, acupuncture treatment may cause some sensation, presumed to be those such as tingles, cramps, or numbness which can occur in humans and which may be uncomfortable to some animals.

Is acupuncture safe for animals?
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals when it is administered by a properly trained veterinarian. Side effects of acupuncture are rare, but they do exist. An animal's condition may seem to worsen for up to 48 hours after a treatment. Other animals may become very sleepy or lethargic for 24 hours after acupuncture. These effects are an indication that some physiological changes are developing, and they are most often followed by an improvement in the animal's condition.
How long do acupuncture treatments last and how often are they given?

The length and frequency of acupuncture treatments depends on the condition of the patient and the method of stimulation that is used by the veterinary acupuncturist. Stimulation of an individual acupuncture point may take as little as 10 seconds or as much as 30 minutes. A simple acute problem, such as a sprain, may require only one treatment, whereas more severe or chronic ailments may need several or several dozen treatments.

When multiple treatments are necessary, they usually begin intensively and are tapered to maximize efficiency. Patients often start with 1-3 treatments per week for 4-6 weeks. A positive response is usually seen after the first to third treatment. Once a maximum positive response is achieved (usually after 4-8 treatments), treatments are tapered off so that the greatest amount of symptom-free time elapses between them. Many animals with chronic conditions can taper off to 2-4 treatments per year.

Animals undergoing athletic training can benefit from acupuncture as often as twice a week to once a month. The frequency depends on the intensity of the training and the condition of the athlete.

How should I choose an acupuncturist for my animals?

There are two important criteria you should look for in a veterinary acupuncturist:

  1. Your veterinary acupuncturist must be a licensed veterinarian.
  2. Your veterinary acupuncturist should have formal training in the practice of acupuncture for animals.

In most countries, states, and provinces, veterinary acupuncture is considered a surgical procedure that only licensed veterinarians may legally administer to animals. A veterinarian is in the best position to diagnose an animal's health problem and then to determine whether an animal is likely to benefit from acupuncture treatment, or whether its problem requires chemical, surgical or no intervention.

In the USA, the 1988 American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) "Guidelines on Alternative Therapies" states that "acupuncture (is) considered a valid modality, but the potential for abuse exists" and that "extensive education programs (should) be undertaken before a veterinarian is considered competent to practice acupuncture". The abuse the AVMA mentions involves improper treatment. Ask your veterinarian about her or his training. The more your veterinarian knows about the traditional Chinese philosophies and Western scientific bases for acupuncture, the more sure you can be that your animals will be treated properly.