Veterinary Acupuncture

April 25, 2019
Veterinary Acupuncture
Acupuncture is an increasingly useful treatment modality in both human and veterinary medicine. A growing number of veterinarians are adding acupuncture to their therapeutic toolbox because they see the benefits of combining alternative treatment options with conventional medical therapy. We are proud that Dr. Macy Drinkhouse, a certified veterinary acupuncturist, is now available to perform acupuncture treatments at our Care Center location in Dayton. Read on to see if your pet could benefit from this ancient therapy.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves placing needles into points on the body to stimulate the production of specific actions. When certain acupuncture points are stimulated, parts of the brain associated with pain-relief are activated. Specific effects of acupuncture include:
  • Increased blood flow
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Muscle spasm relief
  • Release of endorphins and cortisol
Acupuncture may be a recent addition to veterinary medicine, but it is part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which includes therapies used in China for thousands of years, such as herbal remedies, food therapy, and massage therapy. TCM revolves around two main concepts:
  • Qi — Life energy, or Qi, flows through each patient’s body and must be in balance for good health.
  • Yin and yang — Yin and yang describe opposing universal forces, such as hot and cold or dark and light, that must also be in balance for optimal health.

Which pets can benefit from acupuncture?

Acupuncture may benefit pets with many different medical conditions, including:
  • Chronic musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis, intervertebral disc disease, and neck and back pain
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Nerve conditions
  • Slowed gastrointestinal motility
  • Pancreatitis
  • Skin problems, such as lick granulomas
Acupuncture therapy seems most beneficial as an alternative pain-control treatment that can be added to conventional medications, or used instead of medication. If your family veterinarian believes acupuncture could help your pet, we recommend you consult with Dr. Drinkhouse to determine if your pet is a good candidate.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture must always be performed by a licensed veterinarian who has been trained as a certified acupuncturist. Performed correctly, acupuncture is one of the safest treatment methods because it rarely has the side effects that medications can cause. Pets who have diminished liver or kidney function, as well as older pets, can especially benefit.   Severe or life-threatening side effects associated with acupuncture are extremely rare. The most common side effect is lethargy for 24 hours following the first appointment, which is often followed by improvement in your pet’s condition.

What can I expect during an acupuncture treatment?

Your pet’s initial treatment session, which will include a thorough history and physical exam, will last approximately one hour, with subsequent treatments lasting approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Acupuncture’s small-gauge needles cause little pain, and pets typically relax following needle placement and often learn to enjoy treatments. We encourage clients to bring their pet’s favorite bed, toys, treats, or food to create a positive experience. We also encourage clients to stay during their pet’s treatment unless they are uncomfortable around needles. The number of treatments required depends on the pet’s condition and response to treatment. For chronic conditions, we recommend three to five treatments to determine whether the pet shows improvement. If acupuncture is helping, lifelong therapy of weekly to monthly treatments may be recommended. If your family veterinarian has diagnosed your pet with a condition that may benefit from acupuncture, contact our Dayton location to schedule a consultation with our certified veterinary acupuncturist.