On Pins and Needles: Acupuncture for Pets
Today’s guest post is written by Adrianne Doering, VMD, a veterinarian and certified veterinary acupuncturist at Leesburg Veterinary Hospital. – ND
Acupuncture, an ancient healing art believed to have originated in China over 2000 years ago, has become widely accepted in western medicine and veterinary medicine over the past 30 years. Today, acupuncture is a valuable tool in the treatment of many conditions of pain and neurological disease.
Here are some common questions to consider when thinking if acupuncture would be complimentary to your pet’s veterinary wellness needs:
How does acupuncture work?
Although we do not completely understand all of the mechanisms by which acupuncture works in the body, several effects are well documented:
- Acupuncture sends signals to pain center of the brain and causes the release of pain relieving chemicals into the blood and tissues.
- Acupuncture increases blood flow to the applied area, promoting healing and decreased inflammation of damaged tissues.
What can I expect during an acupuncture treatment?
The first visit is usually the longest (about 45 minutes), during which time your pet will be examined, the medical history will be evaluated, and the first acupuncture treatment will be performed. Follow-up visits are typically shorter (about 30 minutes). The needles take about five to ten minutes to insert and remain in place for fifteen minutes. Most pets do not find the needles uncomfortable in the least. In fact, we encourage the pet to move around the room or lay however they are most comfortable for the duration of the treatment.
Who can benefit from acupuncture?
Many cats and dogs (and especially senior pets) suffering from acute or chronic pain can benefit. Examples of commonly treated conditions include:
- Hip and elbow arthritis
- Intervertebral disc disease causing neck and back pain
- Rear/ hind end weakness
- Facial nerve paralysis
- Lower urinary tract disease (felines)
How often should acupuncture be performed?
This depends on the condition being treated. Acute problems such as herniated discs or torn ACL ligaments are treated twice weekly for several weeks. Chronic problems, like arthritis are typically treated every few weeks or months, depending on the pet’s needs.
Can my pets stay on their medications while receiving acupuncture?
Yes, pets may stay on all of their normal medications while receiving treatment. It is a goal of acupuncture, however, to reduce the amount of chronic medications that your pet will need.
Dr. Doering is excited to offer this alternative therapy in managing pain for a variety of medical cases, as well as to alleviate pain, stiffness, and discomfort with issues related to old age. Although she enjoys seeing a wide variety of medical and surgical cases, Dr. Doering especially enjoys working with geriatric pets and their families. Here she can use her traditional and alternative medical skills to keep pets as comfortable and healthy for as long as possible. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Doering, please contact Leesburg Veterinary Hospital at 703-777-3313 or www.leesburgvet.com