As our pets enjoy longer lives, we as pet owners and veterinarians are constantly looking for additional tools to improve the quality and quantity of their lives. One such tool is veterinary acupuncture.
Veterinary acupuncture is an increasingly popular treatment option for pets. Presently, in the U.S. there are more than 4,000 veterinarians who have received training in this modality. Acupuncture is a traditional therapy used for both people and animals for centuries. Veterinary acupuncture text books date back more than 2000 years and acupuncture therapy has been used in species such as dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs, and birds. It has even been used in elephants. Acupuncture uses the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In TCVM, there is a saying, “Inspect the exterior to examine the interior.” Basically, this means to assess information from a history, examination of the body, the patient’s tongue and pulse to arrive at a diagnosis. From the diagnosis, a treatment plan is made and implemented.
Let’s take a look at some answers to frequent questions regarding acupuncture.
What can acupuncture be used to treat?
Actually, acupuncture is useful for many conditions, including but not limited to arthritis, intervertebral disc disease, injuries of the muscles and tendons, skin conditions, epilepsy, cancers and tumors, gastrointestinal disease, reproductive diseases and metabolic diseases. Metabolic diseases are diseases like diabetes, hypo- or hyperthyroidism, and Cushing’s syndrome (excessive cortisol.)
Why not just use drugs?
Drugs are powerful tools and are an essential part of veterinary practice. However, drugs have limitations and side effects. Acupuncture is one the safest forms of medical treatment in the world. It uses the body’s own communications systems, the nervous, glandular, and circulatory systems, to help correct acute and chronic diseases with little or no side effects. Acupuncture is an extremely powerful tool, as is conventional medicine. When acupuncture is integrated with conventional medicine, surgery, herbal therapies, proper diet and exercise, many diseases, which do not respond to drugs, surgery or acupuncture alone, can get better.
How many needles do you use?
The average acupuncture treatment consists of between 1 and 30 needles. These may be placed in virtually all portions of the body. The treatments are performed with mom and dad right in the exam room.
Does it hurt?
While acupuncture is not painful, there can occasionally be a sensation associated with the needle insertion, but it really does not feel like a needle stick. Acupuncture needles are very small in diameter and do not have a cutting edge. This allows them to be inserted with less sensation than the average injection needle.
When would I expect to see results?
Most patients show improvement within three to five treatments.
How many treatments are needed?
The number of treatments required can vary based on the condition being treated. Some chronic conditions can require chronic treatment. Most times, after eight treatments, the treatments will either be stopped or spread out in intervals of eight to 12 weeks.
So, in summary, acupuncture is a safe, effective, relatively painless, and readily available therapy for a wide variety of medical conditions. Please don’t hesitate to call regarding questions or for more information. Please check the following websites: www.ahofd.com, www.TCVM.com, www.IVAS.org, and www.AAVA.org.
Dr. Gregory Todd, DVM, CVA, is a veterinarian at the Animal Hospital of Dunedin, 1355 Pinehurst Road. He was the recipient of the Col. Edward T. Imparato Award in 2003, which is given to “a person who exudes a strong human/animal bond.” He got his BS degree and DVM at the University of Florida, and his CVA at the International Veterinary acupuncture Society.