Pets

Pet Acupuncture

Dogs and cats who suffer with chronic pain, neurological disorders or incurable diseases such as diabetes can benefit from this healing practice.

Pet Acupuncture
Pin it James Yang

Pet acupuncture is used by itself and as a complementary treatment along with standard veterinary care, and works the same with animals as with humans: thin needles are inserted into specific acupuncture points to help promote healing by stimulating the flow of qi, life-force energy. Here’s what to expect:

A yin and yang check
An initial exam helps the acupuncturist locate blocked qi. Since pets can’t tell you where their pain is, a vet examines the body for areas of discomfort, especially along the sides of the spine where back pain manifests, and checks out the tongue and pulse for signs of a yin (cooling energy) or yang (heating energy) deficiency. Unbalanced yin shows up as redness in the tongue or a quickened pulse. Symptoms of yang deficiency include a paler tongue. The vet also reviews the animal’s diet, as a dry food diet can throw off the yin/yang balance.

Needling the acupunture points
When the animal’s trouble spots are identified, needles are inserted into specific acupuncture points for about 20 to 30 minutes. Most pets find it a calming experience and are quite receptive to the standard treatments. However, there are options if your pet is resistant to the needles. Your acupuncturist might use lasers to stimulate the trigger points (pets don’t feel anything), or opt for “aqua-puncture,” where water or another fl uid (like saline) is injected into the points.

More than one appointment
It’s important for pet owners to realize acupuncture is not a quick fix. The number of treatments your pet needs will depend on the condition, but often pets see results after three to five visits. Some pets may require additional, regular treatments (for instance, one or two appointments each month) as part of optimal health maintenance. The cost for an initial acupuncture visit, which typically includes a consultation, exam and treatment, is usually between $80 and $130; follow-up treatments run $60 to $100. You can find certified veterinarian acupuncturists at tcvm.com or ivas.org. — Felicity Talbot, D.V.M., and certified veterinary acupuncturist