Veterinary Acupuncture

Veterinary Acupuncture at Charlotte Street Animal Hospital

Dr. Jaclyn Amber is our certified acupuncture veterinarian who has gone on to complete advanced acupuncture training from the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.  Requirements for certification include completion of 130 hours of acupuncture training, at least 40 hours of internship study with a certified veterinary acupuncturist, completion of a case report, and passing of a certification test including written and practical components. 

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the use of needles inserted at specific points on the body to provide a certain response.  Acupoints are energy dense areas of the body with multiple nerve endings, lymphatics, and inflammatory mediators. Stimulation of different acupuncture points in different ways can produce different effects. These responses are mostly associated with hormonal responses of the body. The body's natural opioids, endorphins, serotonin, and enkephalins are triggered by acupuncture stimulation. This can regulate homeostasis and relieve pain, muscle tension, anxiety, and gastrointestinal disorders. Acupuncture stimulation can be done in many ways. The following forms of stimulation are listed in order of increasing intensity:

Yam Getting his Acupuncture Treatment
Yäm fully relaxes while getting his acupuncture treatment.

Acupressure
The use of pressure on an acupuncture point to stimulate the point. This provides fairly weak and short-lived stimulation, but can provide at least temporary relief.

Dry needle acupuncture
This is the form of acupuncture most commonly thought of by people. A very thin needle is inserted into the acupuncture point for a period of 10 to 30 minutes. This provides longer-lasting results than just pressure alone.

Aqua-acupuncture
A fluid, usually sterile saline or Vitamin B12 is injected into the acupuncture point. This gives fairly long stimulation. It takes hours to days for the fluid to absorb depending on what is used, therefore the physical irritation and stimulation of the point continues beyond the time the needles are removed.

Electro-acupuncture
Electrodes are hooked to some of the acupuncture needles, and gentle electrical stimulation is applied. This causes the highest levels of hormone release, with the longest-lasting results.

Acupuncture results are cumulative, meaning that as you continue to bring your pet back for repeat treatments, the effects will be stronger and last longer each time. Also, as some problems begin to resolve, other underlying problems may arise which can then be treated until you can reach the root of the issue. Optimally, acupuncture will be used as a preventative measure about every 6 months.

What is acupuncture good for?

Numerous studies have shown acupuncture causes physiologic effects such as:  pain relief, regulation of gastrointestinal motility, anti-inflammatory effect, immune regulation, hormone regulation, promotion of circulation, and an anti-febrile effect.

Clinical trials have proven acupuncture to be effective for:

  • Musculoskeletal problems:  Back pain, disc disease, arthritis
  • Neurologic disorders:  Seizures, facial and radial nerve paralysis
  • Gastrointestinal disorders:  Diarrhea, gastric ulcers, colic, vomiting, constipation, impaction
  • Chronic conditions:  Asthma, cough, uveitis, behavioral problems, Cushing's disease, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, renal failure, geriatric weakness, skin problems

Handsome Jack Getting his Acupuncture Treatment
Handsome Funkmaster Jack getting acupuncture treatment to help relieve arthritis.

What is an acupuncture treatment like?

Acupuncture appointments last 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the problem being treated.  The number of treatments needed depends on the chronicity and severity of the disease. The worse a problem is, and the more chronic, the more treatments usually needed to help it. A series of 3 to 10 treatments can resolve or significantly improve many chronic problems. Treatments are started weekly to monthly, depending on the disease. After the initial treatment series, maintenance treatments of every 3 to 6 months are often the goal.

Acupuncture therapy is well-tolerated by about 95% of patients. The sensation should not be that of pain, but is rather like a tingling nerve, heaviness, or heat, along with contraction of the local muscles. Sedation is not needed to perform acupuncture, and is actually not recommended because it can interfere with the acupuncture's effect.