Updated: Nov 9, 2021
Acupuncture is a therapy with a long history in human traditional and Chinese medicine, and is used to treat a variety of conditions. In veterinary medicine one of the most effective ways to use acupuncture is as an adjunct to the treatment of pain, particularly musculoskeletal pain. In animals, acupuncture can only be carried out by a veterinary surgeon who has also undergone an approved training course in veterinary acupuncture techniques, or by a veterinary nurse who has undergone the training and is acting under direction of a suitably trained veterinary surgeon.
How does it work?
Acupuncture works by affecting nerve and muscle fibres. In the Western approach, the insertion of needles affects nerve fibres in several ways - to reduce pain 'wind-up' within the central nervous system, affects on chemical neurotransmitters, and by directly interrupting muscle trigger points.
Our acupuncturists Natalie and James are trained to practice Western acupuncture mainly for pain, which can be really effective alongside conventional medication for any form of pain including chronic spinal pain, arthritis, and sometimes acute injuries. There are many other ways in which acupuncture can potentially be used in combination with medication for other health conditions.
We find that some senior pets, and those experiencing chronic pain really enjoy the relaxation and calm that a session of acupuncture can bring.
Will my pet tolerate needles in them?
While we all know some dogs and cats struggle to sit still for a long time, we find that most dogs and cats (and rabbits!) tolerate acupuncture very well and many really seem to enjoy it. Responses vary, just like with people. Some animals stay alert during the session and simply experience a reduction of pain levels, others are considered 'good responders' and become extremely relaxed and calm. There are, of course, those individuals who either become unsettled during treatment or don't have as good a response as we would hope.
All new patients have a trial session with us initially to check they are comfortable with the process before embarking on a course of treatment - acupuncture doesn't suit everyone but sometimes the provision of a relaxed environment and trust between pet and vet can make all the difference.
Each session lasts 30-60 minutes (depending on the patient and their condition) and is carried out wherever the patient is most comfortable. The needles are extremely small and flexible, sterile single use medical acupuncture needles.
What about other medications?
As with herbal medicine, acupuncture should be seen as complimentary to conventional medicines. If your pet is in pain, and requires conventional pain relief, they should receive that. For the vast majority of cases acupuncture is safe to use in conjunction with other medicines and can be used in combination with their treatment regimes. It may also give your pet a lovely rest if they are a good responder. We will always work together with your primary vet to work out the best pain management plan for your pet.
For further information about acupuncture treatments please contact Natalie at firstname.lastname@example.org giving details of your pet and a brief description of their condition, or complete the enquiry form in the contact us section of the website.