What is Acupuncture?
Dr. Rachel Meloy is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist and offers her services Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. This special certification requires extensive coursework and training.
Acupuncture uses fine needles to induce small lesions at specific points on the body activating the body’s self healing potential. Every animal has a different self healing potential based on their genetic makeup and health status. Acupuncture is an effective treatment for symptoms that can be completely or partially healed by the body. It is also used as a preventive treatment against various acute and chronic conditions in animals.
A healthy body is said to be in ‘homeostasis’ or ‘balance’. Illness and/or injury causes the body to become unbalanced. Acupuncture is a key therapy used to bring the body back into its proper homeostatic state and is known to affect all major physiological systems; nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine and immune systems.
How does it Work?
Location for Acupuncture
There are specific locations for acupuncture points used in treatments. The point locations are strongly correlated with nerve structures. The effects of acupuncture come about through neuromodulation. Peripheral nerves at acupuncture points impact the body as a whole through reflex connections through the central nervous system.
There are both local and systemic effects secondary to needle placement:
- Increases circulation locally
- Reduces bodily stress by stimulating the release of endorphins, relaxing the cardiovascular and muscular systems, and restoring homeostasis.
- Helps to control and reduce both acute and chronic inflammation.
- Balances the autonomic nervous system helping to normalize bodily functions such as intestinal motility.
- Promotes soft tissue healing.
- Pain Relief through the release of many neurochemicals, relaxation of trigger points and myofacial restriction.
Is it Painful?
For small animals, the insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless. A mild pin prick or dull ache may be felt. Once the needles are in place, there should be no pain. Most animals become very relaxed and may become sleepy. Acupuncture is performed with sterile, thin, stainless steel needles. It is one of the safest therapies utilized if practiced by a competent acupuncturist. Side effects are very rare because acupuncture balances the body’s own system of healing without using any administered chemicals.
How Many Treatments are Needed?
The length and frequency of an acupuncture treatment depends on the condition being treated and the patient. Typically, a dog or cat is treated once or twice a week for 4-6 treatments. A positive response is usually observed after the first to third treatment. A simple acute problem, such as a sprain, may only need one treatment while more chronic conditions typically need 3-6 treatments to see maximal effect.
Treatments for chronic conditions are then tapered according to the patient’s response and are typically done every 2-6 months for maintenance.
What Conditions is Acupuncture Useful in Treating?
- Musculoskeletal and Neurological
- Cranial Nerve Dysfunction or Injury
- Peripheral Nerve Injury
- Intervertebral Disc Disease, Back Pain
- Osteoarthritis, Hip Dysplasia
- Trigger points
- GI System
- Fecal Incontinence
- Urinary Problems
- Feline lower urinary tract inflammation
- Respiratory Conditions
- Eye disorders
- Dry eye (KCS)
- Brain Disorder
- Cardiovascular System
- Decrease Stress and Hypertension
- Lick Granuloma
Acupuncture can sometimes be used as the sole treatment for certain conditions, however it is most commonly integrated with Western or Herbal Medicine to offer the best treatment strategy. Please contact Minnehaha Animal Hospital if you feel your companion could benefit from acupuncture treatments. A full medical evaluation is necessary prior to scheduling to prevent misdiagnosis and delay of proper medical care.