Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body with needles. These points have the ability to alter various chemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve the desired effects. It has been used successfully for nearly 4000 years on animals as well as humans. It is not a cure-all but can work well where it is indicated. Approximately 10% of animals treated with acupuncture will not respond.
We mainly use acupuncture to treat muscle and bone problems, such as arthritis, hip dysplasia and intervertebral disc disease. It can also be used to treat certain skin, neurological and respiratory problems.
Acupuncture works mainly through the central nervous system affecting the musculoskeletal, hormonal and cardiovascular systems. It increases circulation, causes a release of endorphins (the bodies natural painkilling hormones), relieves muscle spasm, stimulates nerves and stimulates the immune system as well as numerous other beneficial effects.
Acupuncture is one of the safest therapies around if practised by a competent acupuncturist. The needles used for acupuncture are sterilised thin stainless steel, they are never re-used. Occasionally a brief moment of sensitivity occurs as the needle is placed, once the needles are in place most animals relax some may even fall asleep. It is very rare to have side effects to acupuncture, but occasionally an animal’s condition may temporarily deteriorate before it improves.
Treatments last between 10 seconds and 30 minutes, the time depends on the condition being treated and the practitioner. Usually an individual will have a weekly treatment for 3-4 weeks, then at longer intervals depending on the response.
Acupuncture on animals is legally classified as “an act of veterinary surgery” and so must always be carried out by an appropriately qualified veterinary surgeon. It is important that the animal has a full clinical examination to determine the exact problem or problems, the practitioner can then make an informed decision on the appropriate points to use in order to treat them.
Further information about acupuncture and the vets who practice it can be obtained from the Association of British Veterinary Acupuncturists, or please contact us to discuss your pets needs in more detail.