Acupuncture is the treatment of medical conditions through the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body in order to produce a response. While acupuncture, in some form, has been around for thousands of years, acupuncture first emerged as a treatment for animals in the United States in the 1970s. Over the last few decades, much medical research has been done to understand how and why acupuncture works. This research has lead to the development of medical acupuncture, an evidence-based scientific approach in which acupuncture is used to stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, and cause the release of hormones known as endorphins, with the goal of decreasing pain and inflammation.
Dr. Johnson is a certified veterinary medical acupuncturist, with extensive training through Colorado State University's OneHealth SIM program. She provides acupuncture as a complement to traditional veterinary care, and is eager to help your dog or cat with any medical condition that may be appropriately treated with this modality.
Frequently Asked Questions about Veterinary Acupuncture
For what conditions is acupuncture indicated?
Common conditions treated include:
- Musculoskeletal issues such as arthritis,
hip dysplasia, hind limb weakness or paralysis
- Intervertebral disc pathology
- Nerve inflammation
- Lick granulomas
- Respiratory issues such as asthma and allergies
- Gastrointestinal disease such as constipation, diarrhea, vomiting and fecal incontinence
- Feline urinary syndrome
- Urinary incontinence
- Kidney disease
- Side effects associated with chemotherapy
- End of life palliative care
- and more
Please call us to learn if your pet might be a candidate for acupuncture!
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment when it is administered by a properly trained and certified veterinarian. Side effects are rare, but they do occur. Occasionally, an animal's condition will seem to worsen for 48 hours after treatment or an animal may become sleepy or lethargic after treatment. These effects are generally a sign that some physiologic changes are occurring and generally are followed by an improvement in the animal's condition.
Is acupuncture painful?
For most dogs and cats, the insertion of the acupuncture needles is virtually pain free. Once the needles are in place, most animals become very relaxed and many become sleepy. Occasionally, however, the stimulation of some acupuncture points may cause a tingling sensation which will be noticed by some pets. This is generally not a problem and passes very quickly.
What is the difference between Western and Chinese acupuncture?
Both Western and traditional Chinese acupuncture accomplish the same goals, with similar techniques. Chinese acupuncture is based on the ancient study of qi, or "vital energy", and its flow through the body. Western acupuncture builds on the techniques of Chinese acupuncture, but deemphasizes the notion of qi and instead utilizes an understanding of anatomy, physiology and pathology to explain how acupuncture helps the body to heal itself. Further research is still being done to discover all of acupuncture's effects and its proper uses in veterinary medicine.
How many treatments are necessary?
The length and frequency of treatment depends upon the pet's overall condition and response to treatment. Treatments generally take 15 to 30 minutes. Frequency is generally once or twice weekly for the first four to six weeks. Once a maximum positive response is seen, treatment frequency is tapered off to the appropriate level that maintains the patient. This varies with the animal and the condition being treated. Depending on the type of illness, severity of symptoms and overall health of the animal, this may be once weekly, once per month or simply as needed.
Does acupuncture always help?
As with any treatment, we expect most cases to show some benefit, a few cases to respond dramatically, and a few not to respond at all. Historically, 75 to 80% of patients will see some benefit. Improvement is usually noted by the fourth treatment. If no improvement is seen by the sixth treatment, additional treatments are unlikely to be beneficial. Acupuncture does not replace regular veterinary medicine and standard treatment modalities for most patients. Each animal is unique and responds differently, but multi-modal therapy is generally beneficial for most of our patients. Therefore, acupuncture represents a valuable adjunct to standard Western medicine approaches. Acupuncture can also reduce dependency on more invasive or side-effect-prone treatments.
How do I get started?
Contact our office to schedule an initial acupuncture consultation exam. Following a detailed review of your pet's medical
history and a thorough physical and myofascial exam, Dr. Johnson will make her recommendations for treatment.
Please be sure to provide any medical records, including lab work and imaging, that have been done as a diagnosis is recommended
prior to treatment with acupuncture. Ideally, this information should be provided prior to the consultation exam to allow adequate review
time prior to the appointment. It may be necessary to perform additional diagnostic testing prior to beginning treatment. Once this initial
consultation is completed, an initial treatment plan will be recommended. The initial consultation exam and each subsequent visit will
acupuncture will be scheduled for 30 minutes.