Acupuncture is the practice of inserting fine, solid needles into the pet’s body with the aim to either provide pain relief, or to help tackle other diseases.
This is a specialised service offered by our trained vet, Jessica Martin MRCVS.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture is used to stimulate the nervous system by inserting needles that temporarily block the pain. This encourages both the brain and the nervous system to work together to produce more of the body’s natural pain killers.
For non-pain related conditions, this practice is used to reset the body’s normal functioning
80% of animals respond positively to acupuncture.
Is acupuncture safe?
Yes. Legally acupuncture must be performed by a Veterinary Surgeon who will have a good knowledge of anatomy and care. There have been no official reports of problems in animals due to acupuncture.
There are very few cases in which we would need to be additionally cautious about using acupuncture, but your veterinary acupuncturist will advise you of these.
What kinds of conditions are treated with acupuncture?
Acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain. Usually for pain associated with arthritis or muscle strains, for pain secondary to disc disease, and for bony changes of the spine – as well as others.
Functional conditions such as constipation or irritable bowel related problems may also respond to acupuncture.
Can it hurt my pet?
No. During acupuncture, needles stimulate nerves that do not cause feelings of pain. Instead, these nerves will send more important messages to the brain, which is how they block the pain. Sometimes animals may react to acupuncture as though they are expecting pain, but then relax because it does not occur. Most of the time, they accept the needles easily and often become relaxed and sleepy during the treatment.
How often would my pet be treated?
The usual course is once per week for four to six weeks. It can take about four weeks before we will know whether the acupuncture is working for your pet. Depending on the condition and your pet’s response, we will then work out a treatment plan so that the acupuncture benefits can be maintained for as long as possible between visits.
What can I expect during treatment?
After examination, the veterinarian will carefully insert needles into various points of the pet’s body to be moved or stimulated. There is not a set ‘dosage’ for acupuncture as there is for medicine and so, your vet will judge how much is necessary based on your pet’s response during and after the treatment. Animals may become very relaxed and often sleepy during treatment.
What can I expect after the treatment?
It is not uncommon for pets to return home from the vets and sleep for a very long time. This is a good sign that indicates that a pet will respond well to the acupuncture. Don’t worry if they are not sleepy – this does not mean that they will not react. Alternatively, your pet may seem even a little euphoric after the treatment and this is also a positive sign. It is important still to keep them quiet for the rest of the day to ensure they don’t overdo things.
Otherwise, you should treat your pet normally after acupuncture. You do not need to change their exercise, diet or medication unless told otherwise by your vet.
What about response?
Your pet will show one of three responses to acupuncture:
- They may initially seem stiff or uncomfortable. This shows response to the treatment but that their last dose was a bit too much. Let the vet know and they will adjust the treatment in the next session. This stiffness will wear off after a day or two and they should improve to be feeling better than before the treatment.
- You may see an improvement anytime during the three days following the acupuncture. The symptoms that we are treating may return again before the next session but this is fine. After each subsequent treatment, the positive effect should last longer and longer until your pet can go for some time between treatments.
- You may see no response. This is always disappointing but it does not mean that your pet will not respond; it may just be that they will take a little longer or that their improvement after the first treatment was too brief for you to see. Sometimes it isn’t until after the fourth treatment that the animal begins to visibly respond.
If you would like more information, please contact the practice on 0141 339 1228.