Integrated Medicine

Veterinary Acupuncture

Veterinary AcupunctureWhat is Veterinary Acupuncture?

Acupuncture may be defined as the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response. Each acupuncture point has specific actions when stimulated. This technique has been used in veterinary practice in China for thousands of years to treat many ailments. The Chinese also use acupuncture as preventative medicine. Acupuncture is used all around the world, either along or in conjunction with Western medicine, to treat a wide variety of conditions in every species of animal. Clinical research has been conducted showing positive results in the treatment of both animals and humans, and the use of acupuncture is increasing. Acupuncture will not cure every condition, but it can work very well when it is indicated.

For Which Conditions is Acupuncture Indicated?

Acupuncture is indicated 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:

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

In addition, regular acupuncture treatment 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 help them keep in top physical condition.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Although acupuncture has its roots in ancient times before modern scientific methods were available with which to study it, many important studies have been done to indicate how acupuncture works and what physiologic mechanisms are involved in its actions. Using functional MRI (fMRI), to examine 15 different points, the basic tenets of acupuncture have been proven. Those are that acupuncture is based upon the point selected, the method of stimulation, and the duration of stimulation. Stimulation of these points result in specific changes in the central nervous system. It was shown that acupuncture points that have pain relieving properties associated with them tend to activate specific pain-association brainstem regions. The National Institute of Health developed a consensus statement about acupuncture and its efficacy. NIH said that there was compelling evidence that acupuncture was useful in the management of osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal pain.

In western medical 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 conducted 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 worse for up to 48 hours after a treatment. Other animals become lethargic or sleepy for 24 hours. 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.

Veterinary AcupunctureHow Can My Pet Benefit from Acupuncture?

The success of the treatment will vary according to the skill of the veterinarian, the condition being treated and the number and frequency of acupuncture treatments. The length and frequency of the treatments depends on the condition of the patient and the method of stimulation (dry needle, electroacupuncture, aquapuncture, etc.) that is used by the veterinary acupuncturist. A simple acute problem, such as a sprain, may require only one treatment, whereas more severe or chronic ailments may need several treatments.

How Safe is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture should never be administered without a proper veterinary medical diagnosis and an ongoing assessment of the patient’s condition by a licensed veterinarian. This is critical because acupuncture is capable of masking pain or other clinical signs and may delay proper veterinary medical diagnosis once treatment has begun. Elimination of pain may lead to increased activity on the part of the animal, thus delaying healing or causing the original condition to worsen.

In general, acupuncture can be effectively combined with most conventional and alternative therapies. Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists have the comprehensive training, knowledge and skill to understand the interactions between different forms of treatment and to interpret the patient’s response to therapy.

The American Veterinary Medical Association considers veterinary acupuncture a valid modality within the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery.

How Should I Choose a Veterinary Acupuncturist for My Pet?

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

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

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 properly diagnose an animal’s health problem and then to determine whether the animal is likely to benefit from an acupuncture treatment, or whether its problem requires chemical, surgical, or no intervention.

Because of the differences in anatomy, and the potential for harm if the treatments are done incorrectly, only a properly trained veterinarian should perform acupuncture on animals. The proper training for a veterinarian would include an extensive post-doctoral educational program in veterinary acupuncture. The more your veterinarian knows about traditional Chinese philosophies and the western scientific basis for acupuncture the more you can be assured that your animals will be treated properly.


Laser Therapy: FAQs

Is laser therapy new?

The beneficial effects of laser light on tissue were first recognized almost forty years ago. Since then, there have been thousands of studies documenting the positive effects laser light has on different types of cells, tissue, and disorders. Recent advances in technology and manufacturing have made it possible to have this exciting modality available and affordable for clinicians.

How long does the treatment take?

Treatment protocols are unique to each patient and condition. Therefore, treatments will vary in time, complexity and cost. For some chronic patients, multiple joints will be treated during one laser treatment session. When appropriate, laser therapy can be used as a complementary adjunct to other treatment plans.

Laser Therapy

What can be treated with laser therapy?

If your pet is feeling pain, has inflammation, or a wound, the laser is a sterile, pain-free, surgery-free, drug-free treatment. The laser is used to treat a variety of injuries, wounds, fractures, neurological conditions, numerous dermatological problems, and pain. Whether your pet is rehabilitating from trauma or injury, healing from wounds, or simply aging, the laser has been shown to provide relief and speed healing.

What's involved with treating my pet?

The laser light is delivered through a non-invasive hand piece to treat the affected area. Your pet will feel a gentle and soothing warmth. As the laser is administered, many pets will relax, much like you would experience a good massage. The almost immediate relief of pain will allow your pet to be comfortable and any anxiety that your pet initially experienced will dissipate.

How does it work?

The Companion therapy laser system sends photons, or packets of light energy, deep into tissue without damaging it. These photons are absorbed within the mitochondria of the cells and induce a chemical change called "photo-bio-modulation." This light energy then inspires production of ATP in the cell. ATP is the fuel, or energy, cells need for repair and rejuvenation. Impaired or injured cells do not make this fuel at an optimal rate. Increased ATP production leads to healthier cells, healthier tissue, and healthier animals.

Laser Therapy

Are there any side effects?

There are no known side effects with this treatment.

What can I expect at home?

You might see a change in activity when your pet comes home. For some it might be increased activity and others may be more relaxed. This is due to the pain relief and reduction in inflammation.

How should I support this treatment at home?

There are no specific things you need to do at home, other than follow normal restrictions, dietary needs, and additional treatment protocols as you pet’s condition dictates and is outlined by your veterinarian.

What should you expect during a Companion Laser Therapy treatment session for your companion?

Simply put, it provides relief. The fur does not need to be clipped. Eye protection will be worn by the laser operator and anyone in a close proximity to the laser probe. The eyes of the animal will be directed away from the treatment area or covered with a towel or eye wear. The clinician will move the probe over the area of treatment to assure the laser is being delivered to the area which needs improvement.

What will my pet feel?

As the laser is administered, often pets will relax and enjoy, much like you would experiencing a good massage. The almost immediate relief of pain will allow your pet to be comfortable and any anxiety that your pet initially experienced will dissipate. Occasionally, angry cats will start to purr and dogs will fall asleep during their therapy session.

Laser Therapy

Is there anything my pet should or shouldn’t do, or take, while on the treatment?

Just follow normal treatment protocols as outlined. You do not need to be overly cautious nor should you overdo any activities. Just business as usual.

When can I expect to see an improvement? What might I see?

You may see relief in the first treatment or so as pain and inflammation are reduced. For example: better mobility for joint conditions, drying and healing of dermatological issues, faster healing for wounds and incisions, or your pet just seeming more relaxed and comfortable . For some conditions, a series of treatments may be necessary before you see results due to the severity or complexity of the condition. Each pet is different, and treatments are unique for your pet’s specific needs.