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In most regions of the world, veterinary acupuncture is considered a surgical procedure that legally must be performed by licensed veterinarians. A veterinarian is in the best position to diagnose an animal's health problems and then to determine whether an animal is likely to benefit from an acupuncture treatment, or whether its problems requires chemical, surgical, or no intervention.

Ask your veterinarian about her or his training. The more your veterinarian knows about acupuncture, the more confident you can feel that your animal will be treated with the proper care.

bugsyPet Acupuncture

During a pet acupuncture session, a trained veterinarian will insert needles into points on the body with the goal of triggering a self-healing effect. Acupuncture is a widely used practice worldwide. Many people in modern Western countries receive acupuncture in conjunction with traditional medicine to tread a wide range of problems. It is also used on domestic animals. While acupuncture is not a cure-all, it can help with some conditions or symptoms.

Acupuncture is indicated mainly for functional problems, such as pain and paralysis, as well as allergies and other inflammation caused by something other than an infection. For pets, acupuncture is an option for the following conditions:

  • Musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis
    or vertebral disc pathology
  • Skin problems, such as acral lick granulomas
  • Respiratory problems, such as feline asthma
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea
  • Some reproductive problems.

Regular acupuncture treatments can also be part of a regimen to treat or prevent minor athletic injuries for both animals and humans.

Acupuncture has its roots in ancient Chinese practice, when it was believed that all disease was caused by a body’s imbalance of energy. Modern practitioners use the needles as an attempt to stimulate physiological changes such as muscle relaxation, better blood circulation, cortisol release (for healing), and endorphin release (to relieve pain).

Inserting the needles is nearly painless for your pet. Most nerve endings are near the skin’s surface, so the needles can remain in place without pain or irritation. Many animals even become relaxed or sleepy during a session.

Acupuncture is very safe when administered by a properly trained veterinarian. Sometimes, an animal’s condition will worsen for a day or two after the initial treatment, or the animal will be more lethargic than usual as its body adjusts to the new stimuli. Other side effects are rare.

A pet acupuncture session will vary in length depending on the condition being treated, as will the recommended frequency. Simple, acute problems may only require a single session; chronic or severe issues may benefit from several or even dozens of sessions.

A series of treatments will usually start out with greater frequency – 1-3 treatments per week for 4-6 weeks, typically – and taper off as the condition becomes manageable. Therapeutic effects, if any, will usually be seen within the first three sessions.

Animals undergoing athletic training might benefit from acupuncture as often as twice a week. For animals in less intense training, a monthly regimen might be more appropriate.

There are two important criteria you should look for in a veterinary acupuncturist:

1. Your veterinary acupuncturist must be a licensed veterinarian.

2. Your veterinary acupuncturist should have formal training in the practice of acupuncture for animals. The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society is the only accredited certification program for veterinary acupuncture.