Acupuncture in Dogs & Cats

The dog and cat population suffer a large number of diseases that are similar to those in mankind. Dogs are very willing and cooperative patients, who generally respond positively to acupuncture treatment. Most dogs actively enjoy their needling. Some simply tolerate it and extremely few appear to be too sensitive to needles to permit a relaxed treatment. Cats accept acupuncture needling remarkably well and we believe this is because they are extremely 'body-aware' and have a good understanding of what they need. If a treatment does not fit in with their perception of their particular needs, they will usually find a way to show us. Animals are never sedated for acupuncture. Sedation introduces a foreign substance, which changes the animal’s perception of and response to its environment. I rely on these responses to determine treatment points and evaluate their effectiveness. It is a very rare patient who does not settle and enjoy their treatment. If an animal finds the treatment objectionable then another treatment regime is selected. The size of the animal and the location of the points being treated determine the length of the needles used. A short needle, about 0.5 inch, is used in points located over bony areas such as the head or face. The most common size used is about 1 inch long. For larger dogs or for deeper penetration, there are longer needles available (1.5-2.0 inches). The needles are solid, very flexible, sterile and disposable.

The size of the animal and the location of the points being treated determine the length of the needles used. A short needle, about 0.5 inch, is used in points located over bony areas such as the head or face. The most common size used is about 1 inch long. For larger dogs or for deeper penetration, there are longer needles available (1.5-2.0 inches). The needles are solid, very flexible, sterile and disposable.

In the general treatment of ailments, it may take four to eight sessions to know if acupuncture therapy will be effective, although a response could be seen even after the first treatment, and improvements often are noticed after the third. Treatments may last from 10 seconds to 30 minutes and may be recommended once or twice weekly. . In a dog with acute or chronic musculoskeletal problems I may use Electro Acupuncture which involves connecting selected acupuncture points to a stimulator to run a low level electrical current between them. For certain conditions, such as neck or back pain, we apply heat to the needles to warm the acupuncture point. The long-term goal is always to fix the number of treatments to the minimum required for effectiveness. This may be every six months for arthritis or could be as often as every two months for other conditions. Both frequency and duration of treatment depend on the animal and the ailment.

Acupuncture is effective for treatment of any condition that can be affected by a shift in blood flow. Most commonly thought of as a treatment for acute or chronic musculoskeletal pain it is very effective for many other conditions. These conditions include ligament injuries, arthritis or degenerative back disease. It works very well for conditions of the cardiovascular and respiratory system, for example congestive heart failure, asthma or chronic upper respiratory infections. Neurologic malfunctions such as epilepsy or paralysis are also responsive. Dermatologic conditions and immune mediated diseases are among the diseases, which can be very responsive but are less often thought of. For any condition we are treating it is common to use acupuncture in combination with conventional therapy to maximize our success rate.