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What is Veterinary Acupuncture?

Veterinary Acupuncture involves placing very fine, sterile needles into specific locations on the body of animals to help alleviate pain, as well as aiding recovery and rehabilitation.

Animal Acupuncture is not a cure. It is a treatment aimed at providing symptomatic relief of pain, nausea, anxiety, and other disorders. In many cases Animal Acupuncture is best used in conjunction with conventional medicine, however, in some cases, it can be used as a sole treatment.

Adding Veterinary Acupuncture to a treatment plan may help to reduce your animal’s requirements for medication, thereby reducing any undesirable side effects of the medications. It can be used when conventional therapy is not working when your animal cannot tolerate the medication, or where surgery is not an option.

What Conditions Respond to Animal Acupuncture?

Animal Acupuncture is extremely safe when practiced correctly, and the majority of animals, including cats and rabbits, respond well to the treatment. Some of the conditions that respond well to Animal Acupuncture include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Myofascial pain
  • Muscular strains
  • Spinal problems
  • Rehabilitation following surgery
  • Joint problems
  • Other musculoskeletal conditions

What Happens During Animal Acupuncture?

During the treatment, very fine Veterinary Acupuncture needles are inserted through the skin into the underlying tissues and muscles at specific points on the body. The majority of these are inserted into points on the animal that are not painful.

Sometimes, there is a brief moment of sensitivity when the needle initially penetrates the skin, however, once the Veterinary Acupuncture needles are in place, most animals take no notice of them.

But, if an animal is particularly needle-shy, they can be distracted during needle placement using food (carrots or molasses licks in the case of horses, biscuits in the case of cats and dogs). A massage pad can be used during the needle placement in horses, which relaxes and distracts them quite successfully.

Animal Acupuncture needles can be left in for 5 to up to 30 minutes, depending on the case. In some cases, a small electric current is passed through the needles to intensify the treatment in a method called ‘Electroacupuncture’. Electroacupuncture is also very well accepted by most animals.

During treatment, some animals may become more relaxed and quiet. And can feel a lot better afterward. In this case, it’s best to not allow them to overdo it post-treatment. Do not change their normal routine of feeding, exercise, or medication, unless advised otherwise by your Veterinarian.

But, if an animal is particularly needle-shy, they can be distracted during needle placement using food (carrots or molasses licks in the case of horses, biscuits in the case of cats and dogs). A massage pad can be used during the needle placement in horses, which relaxes and distracts them quite successfully.

Animal Acupuncture needles can be left in for 5 to up to 30 minutes, depending on the case. In some cases, a small electric current is passed through the needles to intensify the treatment in a method called ‘Electroacupuncture’. Electroacupuncture is also very well accepted by most animals.

During treatment, some animals may become more relaxed and quiet. And can feel a lot better afterward. In this case, it’s best to not allow them to overdo it post-treatment. Do not change their normal routine of feeding, exercise, or medication, unless advised otherwise by your Veterinarian.

How Animal Acupuncture Works at Knutsford Veterinary Surgery

If you believe that your animal could benefit from Animal Acupuncture, you will first be offered a one-hour consultation to discuss your animal’s medical history and its suitability for treatment. We’ll also conduct a clinical examination before performing the treatment if it is deemed suitable. Following the first treatment, we will conduct a post-treatment discussion.

Subsequent treatments are approximately 45 minutes long and will involve both the treatment and a discussion around response to treatment. In most cases, three treatments are advised before a short break to assess your animal’s response to treatment and its effectiveness.

Animal Acupuncture is extremely safe and effective, provided that it is performed by a qualified Veterinary Surgeon.

Whilst side effects are rare, possible side effects can include:

  • Bleeding
  • Possible temporary worsening of symptoms
  • Bruising
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Soreness

Unusual risks of Animal Acupuncture treatment can include ingestion of needles, organ puncture (rare), infection, abortion, and nerve damage. Detailed knowledge of veterinary anatomy means the penetration of any structure, such as a joint or tendon sheath, is rare.

Animal Acupuncture is performed one to three times per week for three weeks before a period of rest to assess the animal’s response to the treatment. After an initial consultation appointment, subsequent sessions usually last for around 45 minutes.

Only qualified Veterinary Surgeons that are members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons can perform Acupuncture on animals.

As Animal Acupuncture is now considered to be a very successful treatment for many conditions, the majority of insurance companies will cover the associated costs of Animal Acupuncture.

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