Before any first acupuncture appointments are scheduled we require an Integrative Medical Care (IMC) consult to set up expectations of therapy (30 minutes). The patient must be present so the veterinarian can see the pet. A physical exam is performed at this time, but treatment might not be given that day depending on the hospital schedule.

Questions commonly answered during this session include:

  • What are the treatment expectations?
  • How long does the treatment take?
  • Where is it done?
  • How is it done?
  • Will it hurt?
  • How often are my appointments? In general, chronic diseases require chronic therapy vs. acute diseases tend to respond faster than deficiency and chronic
  • disease.
  • How much will it cost?
  • How long will it last?

Many of your questions will be answered in our FAQ below.

History of Veterinary Acupuncture

Acupuncture is most closely associated with ancient China where it remains part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The first veterinary text was written in China around 450 BC, dealing with the treatment of horses with acupuncture and TCM herbal medicine.1 It is only until recent decades that this form of medicine has been applied to dogs and cats as they have become an integral part of the household.

FAQ about Veterinary Acupuncture

How does it work?

Dr. Roger Clemmons, an instructor at the Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine, states, “From a modern perspective, acupuncture represents a form of nerve stimulation.” Small needles are used to stimulate different “meridians” on the body to help move energy (termed “Qi” in Chinese medicine) when it becomes stagnant or weak. The effect for the patient provides pain relief or correction of the energy flow within that meridian to provide healing to the body. Acupuncture has become a popular treatment modality for patients who have medical issues that are either non-responsive to conventional medicine or where Western medicine is lacking in treatment options for certain conditions.

What tools are used?

Tools for treatment most frequently include dry needles, electroacupuncture, and aquapuncture.

What is electroacupuncture?

Electric current is introduced into the dry acupuncture needle. This can allow a higher degree of needle stimulation for special treatments such as pain and internal medicine conditions.

What is aquapuncture?

Dr. Gregory Todd, an instructor at the Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine, explains, “Aquapuncture is the injection of an acupuncture point with fluids.” The most common fluids are vitamin B-12, saline, the patient’s own blood, homeopathic remedies, local anesthetics, and occasionally drugs. Aquapuncture increases the level of stimulation of an acupuncture point and allows for a longer interval between treatments.

What conditions can acupuncture help treat when used with conventional medical protocols?

Pain management for:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • DJD (degenerative joint disease)
  • IVDD (intervertebral disc diseases)

Internal medicine conditions

  • Chronic renal (kidney) failure
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)
  • Behavior problems like separation anxiety or thunderstorm phobias
  • Chronic skin problems (allergies)
  • Cancer/tumors
  • Promote overall life quality
  • Seizures

How long do acupuncture treatments take?

  • New client intakes are 30-60 minute appointments
  • Follow-ups are scheduled for 40 minutes (1 week after the 1st treatment)

Reference: Jaggar DH and Robinson NG: History of veterinary acupuncture. In Schoen AM: Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern Medicine, 2nd Edition, St. Louis, 2001, Mosby, pp 4-11.

Integrating Herbal Therapy for Pets with Acupuncture

What Can Chinese Herbal Medicine Do For My Pet?

Chinese Herbal Therapy may have many of the same benefits as Western pharmaceuticals:

  • Cure a disease
  • Stabilize a disease
  • Decrease side effects of pharmaceuticals
  • May decrease required dose of a pharmaceutical to gain the same effect
  • Can support the normal physiologic function of internal organs stressed by pharmaceuticals
  • Promote quality of life
  • Prevent disease/restore and maintain the quality of life

Advantages of Herbal Medicines

Including Chinese herbal medicines in the treatment program is often more appropriate and effective than acupuncture alone, particularly for conditions requiring long-term treatment such as:

  • Seizures
  • Separation anxiety or other behavioral problems
  • Osteoarthritis

Herbal medicine is particularly suitable, along with dietary modifications and improvement in lifestyle as indicated, when the temperament of the patient precludes using acupuncture. Herbal medicine can be especially helpful when cost or practical reasons dictate the need for less frequent acupuncture sessions.

Are Chinese herbs safe for my dog or cat?

We only provide herbal remedies from those manufacturers who are in compliance with the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). This guarantees quality control factors that influence the quality of each herbal medicine such as the environment where the plants grow, the season when plants are collected, and ways for growing the plants. There are standards followed for the methods that herbs are processed and the storage of raw herbal materials and products. GMP guarantees that the source plant or mineral is properly identified, confirms lacks of contaminants (pesticides and heavy metals), assesses for microbial content of these natural degradable ingredients, and ensures that they are properly processed to avoid loss of potency and/or active ingredients.

Reference: Cindy West, DVM, CVA, CVTuina, Instructor at Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine