Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into the body for pain relief or, in some cases, to help the body deal with other diseases.
It works through the nervous system. The needles stimulate fast pain fibres and block the pain messages from slow pain fibres. They also encourage the brain and central nervous system to produce more of the body’s natural painkillers. In conditions that are not painful, acupuncture may help to reset the body’s normal functioning. About 80% of dogs, cats and people are acupuncture responders and will improve with treatment.
Pets do not seem to resent the needles, which are very fine. Occasionally they will jump if a needle touches a very tender spot. The owner stays with the pet throughout the treatment (unless they would rather not!) and owners and pets often find the experience relaxing.
The pet would only need to be sedated if they were in so much pain that any touch is painful. Anaesthesia is not used as it blocks nerve responses.
Pain is the most common indication for acupuncture. Most commonly this means pain associated with arthritis, but acupuncture can be used to help muscle strains, pain secondary to disc disease and other bone conditions and also after orthopaedic surgery. Medical conditions such as constipation in cats and irritable bowel type problems in dogs may also respond.
No, acupuncture is complementary to other treatments and is used in a holistic approach to pain control. It can be used in combination with medicines, supplements and monitored exercise.
The usual primary course is once a week for four to six weeks. Each session lasts around 30 minutes. After four weeks, we will know whether acupuncture is working for your pet and then, depending on the condition, and how they have responded, we will work out a plan that usually involves tailing off the treatment so that the effect is maintained for as long as possible. Some pets, especially elderly dogs with osteoarthritis, benefit from regular sessions, perhaps every month or six weeks, others have occasional courses of two-four sessions and some clients just book an appointment when they feel it would be beneficial. The frequency of treatment is always worked out in discussion with the owner.
Acupuncture is very safe, in the right hands. Legally it must be performed by a veterinary surgeon. There have been no official reports of problems in animals, but there are some in humans. These can usually be avoided with care and a good knowledge of anatomy. There are a very few cases in which we would have to be cautious about using acupuncture, but your veterinary acupuncturist can advise you of these.
After an inital examination, needles will be put into various parts of the body and moved or stimulated a few times. There is not a set “dose” of acupuncture as there is for medication, so your vet will judge how much to do based on your pet’s response both at the time and after the treatment. Patients may become sleepy and relaxed during the treatment.
It is not uncommon for pets to go home and sleep very soundly for a long time. This is a good sign and shows that your pet will probably respond well to acupuncture. But do not worry if they are not sleepy – this does not mean that they will not respond. Sometimes your pet may seem a little more euphoric than usual; this is also a good sign, but keep them quiet for the rest of the day or they may overdo things.
Otherwise treat your pet normally after acupuncture. Do not change exercise, diet or medication unless it has been discussed with your vet.
Your pet may show one of three responses to treatment:
Appointments can be made at Pershore and Bredon, please ask at reception or ring the surgery if you wish to discuss treatment or make an appointment.
The current cost is £36.86 a session including VAT. Many insurance companies will pay for acupuncture treatment if it is recommended by your vet.
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