What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to cause a desired healing effect. It is one of the physical healing methods used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and has been used to treat humans and animals for over 3000 years. Modern acupuncture is done with very thin and flexible needles.

What conditions can it help?

Because TCM is a complete (and quite holistic) medical system, it is possible to treat any condition with acupuncture and/or Chinese herbs. According to TCM theory, disease arises from an imbalance in the body’s flow of energy, called Qi (pronounced “chee”). Both acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be used to correct this imbalance. Both can be used as complementary modalities to Western treatment, or on their own. The most common referrals for acupuncture are for musculoskeletal or neurological problems, such as pain, arthritis, intervertebral disk disease or degenerative myelopathy; for these conditions, acupuncture can offer a decrease in pain and a faster return to better mobility. Many older animals with chronic problems—or even without—can benefit from this different approach to restoring and maintaining health that acupuncture and TCM offer.

What is an appointment like?

At the first acupuncture appointment, which will take about an hour, we will discuss your pet’s medical history and current conditions, and you will be asked to provide information on health concerns, diet, habits, personality and other characteristics. That information and a physical examination will provide a TCM diagnosis. A treatment goal will be set, and needles will be placed. The needles are left in place for 15-25 minutes, depending upon your pet’s response. During this time, it is best if the animal either lies down or stands quietly. If you are coming from another veterinary practice, it is helpful to bring or send a copy of your pet’s recent medical history and laboratory results.

How many treatments are needed?

TCM Herbs

This varies greatly. Subsequent appointments will consist of a brief exam and progress check, followed by needling. The length of time between treatments will depend upon how quickly a response is seen, and how long it lasts. Typically, for chronic conditions, we recommend four to eight weekly treatments. Your pet’s response will dictate the frequency and the time between treatments thereafter. Additionally, an herbal formula may be prescribed. Once we have achieved a better balance for your pet, tune-up or maintenance treatments are done as needed, and can be monthly, bimonthly, or even less often.