According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), disease is the result of an imbalance of Qi, or vital energy, in the body. During acupuncture, a thin needle is inserted into specific spots on the body called acupoints. This process is thought to help balance the Qi and allow the body to heal itself from disease. Acupoints are places under the skin where the Qi is especially concentrated. In modern interpretations, these points are usually near free nerve endings, arterioles, lymphatic vessels, connective tissue, and mast cells. Acupuncture restores your pet’s regular homeostasis, allowing their body’s natural healing and regeneration processes to take place. It stimulates the local nerves and the brain, helping to reduce anxiety and pain by releasing β endorphins, serotonin, norepinephrine, and endogenous opioids for non-pharmaceutical relief. Acupuncture can also help activate the immune system.
During your pet’s acupuncture appointment, we’ll discuss your current concerns regarding your pet’s health, their medical history, aspects of their health and lifestyle, and their personality and constitution. The first appointment typically lasts about an hour, giving you plenty of time to go over any issues your pet may have. Once we have determined the problems and prioritized them, we will discuss treatment options and the expected course. Each follow-up appointment takes about 40 minutes and will always begin with a discussion on your pet’s progress. We may recommend nutritional supplements as part of your pet’s treatment plan to optimize results.
When performed by a trained veterinarian, acupuncture is one of the safest medical treatments for pets. Some pets barely notice the needle insertion, while others may experience some mild discomfort. Most relax once the needles are in place, though some remain a bit nervous throughout the procedure. While rare and typically not severe, side effects of acupuncture do exist. Your pet’s symptoms may appear to worsen in the first day or two following treatment, or they may become unusually sleepy. These signs are often a good indication of the positive long-term effects that will follow. Not every pet is a good candidate for acupuncture. In these situations, we may recommend the other branches of TCVM, such as acupressure, Chinese herbs, or acu-laser (the use of laser therapy in acupuncture points).
The duration and schedule of acupuncture treatments vary depending on your pet’s condition and their symptoms. Acute problems, like injuries, may require only two or three sessions, while a chronic condition would need anywhere from several to several dozen treatments. Once your pet has reached peak improvement, acupuncture treatments are tapered off to a maintenance level of about two to four appointments a year.