What is Veterinary Acupuncture?

Dr. Meghan Barrett Vet Veterinary Acupuncture

The use of acupuncture for animals is increasing as more people recognize the value of integrated medicine for their own health as well as for the health of their animal companions. Acupuncture has been utilized as a medical treatment for humans and animals in Chinese Medicine for thousands of years!

Most people think of acupuncture as a pain reliever, but it’s more than that. Acupuncture can modulate the nervous system, boost the immune system, improve organ functions, and more. It can complement conventional medicines and procedures without dangerous side effects. No single form of medicine has all the answers. We must look at the individual needs of each animal. Sometimes the best answer is medication; sometimes it’s surgery; sometimes it’s acupuncture; sometimes it’s a combination.

Acupuncture is used most commonly to treat orthopedic and neurologic conditions, such as:

● Arthritis and painful joints

● Back pain

● Muscle spasms or weakness

● Intervertebral disc disease (without surgery or after surgery)

● Weakness and paralysis

Acupuncture can also be useful for treating and managing the following disorders:

● Chronic Kidney Disease

● Constipation

● Incontinence

● Heart disease

● Anxiety

● Respiratory problems like coughing and congestion

● Seizures

● Cancer associated pain

How does it work?

Sterile acupuncture needles are inserted into specific points on an animal’s body. The needles stimulate the nervous system in various ways depending where they are placed. They will have physiological effects locally, and also in the spinal cord and brain.

Acupuncture increases circulation; reduces inflammation; causes the release of neurotransmitters from the brain – some of which are endorphins & enkephalins – the body’s “natural pain-killing” hormones; relieves muscle spasms; stimulates nerves; strengthens the body’s immune system; as well as numerous other beneficial effects.

When should I try acupuncture for my animal?

Acupuncture is often most effective when used in conjunction with conventional therapy.

Acupuncture can also be used as an alternative to conventional therapy, and while it shouldn’t be expected to be a cure-all, sometimes it is! Acupuncture can be used to help with recovery from some types of surgery.

Are there different types of needles for cats, dogs and horses?

Yes. Generally, cats receive thinner and shorter needles, about 1/2 inch in length and slightly thicker than a whisker. Dogs receive needles of 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches long, depending on their body size. Needles for horses need to be slightly thicker due to their thick skin and fascia.

Is acupuncture effective for most animals?

Yes! Pets receive the most benefit if the treatment is performed in a familiar, calm and quiet environment, like their own home. If your pet resists treatment, we don’t push it on them. Small mammals including rabbits, and large animals including horses and livestock can also benefit from acupuncture.

Will the needles hurt my animal?

Usually no. Your animal may feel some pain if there is a knot or spasm at the insertion point. More commonly, though, your animal may experience a sensation as the needle enters the top layer of skin. Many needles slide out near the end of the session. It’s not unusual for an animal to relax or even fall asleep during acupuncture as calming points are always used.

How long are the sessions, and how much do they cost?

During rehab appointments, we provide a comprehensive range of beneficial treatments, including laser therapy, acupuncture, massage, stretching, and customized exercises to promote your pet’s recovery and well-being.

Duration: Each appointment typically lasts 60-90 minutes.

We offer two convenient options for your pet’s acupuncture needs:

  1. Home Visits or Farm Calls:
    • Initial Visit: $300
    • Follow-Up Visits: $250 each
  2. Honolulu Office Appointments (1023 Pensacola St. Upstairs, Back side of building, Mauka):
    • Initial Visit: $250
    • Follow-Up Visits: $200 each

Choosing appointments at our office comes with a cost discount, making it a more affordable option for your dog’s rehabilitation journey.

Are there side effects?

Acupuncture is considered very safe by veterinarians. On rare occasions, a needle can break or get stuck. It is possible that a bruise or infection can develop at the place where the needle was inserted. There is also a risk of lung puncture if needling in the chest area. We do everything we can to eliminate risks, and complications from this treatment are extremely uncommon.

Will I see immediate improvement?

Sometimes yes! However the results vary with each animal and condition treated. It usually takes multiple sessions to stimulate the body to heal. Ongoing treatments may also be required to maintain results depending on the condition.

Dr. Barrett performs veterinary medical acupuncture for companion animals at her office Muse Holistic Veterinary Care in Honolulu, and at client’s homes. To contact her for more information, please complete this form. She also performs acupuncture on large animals like horses, goats, alpacas, and cows. We look forward to hearing from you!

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EXISTING COMMENTS

  1. Last week, my sister found out that her elderly dog has arthritis and is regularly suffering from the pain. That’s why I’m glad you talked about veterinary acupuncture and how it treats different health conditions, so I’m positive that my sister would be interested in hearing about this immediately. Thank you for explaining that we’d get better results by combining traditional treatment with veterinary acupuncture.

  1. Last week, my sister found out that her elderly dog has arthritis and is regularly suffering from the pain. That’s why I’m glad you talked about veterinary acupuncture and how it treats different health conditions, so I’m positive that my sister would be interested in hearing about this immediately. Thank you for explaining that we’d get better results by combining traditional treatment with veterinary acupuncture.

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