Alternative Medicine


We find that many of our clients are interested in acupuncture services, but have questions about it. If you have ever been curious about acupuncture for your pet, read on to see answers to frequently asked questions.

What kinds of problems can be helped by acupuncture?
Traditional Chinese medicine uses acupuncture (often along with herbs) in the treatment of nearly all diseases. Of course, there are problems where Western medicine and surgery excel (a broken leg, for instance). Eastern modalities, which strive to restore balance to the body, seem to excel in treating chronic diseases where Western medicine often falls short. We have found acupuncture to be particularly helpful for cases of:

  • Arthritis or chronic lameness
  • Back pain
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Epilepsy
  • Chronic allergies and itching
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

How does acupuncture work?
In short we don’t know, but studies have proven that:

  • Acupuncture points occur at areas of higher electrical conductivity on the skin or where a bundle of nerve, artery, and vein dives into a muscle.
  • Acupuncture alters the levels of various neurotransmitters and hormones in the body.
  • Acupuncture may alter the activity of intermediary nerves in the spinal cord to change how neuro “messages” are relayed to the brain.
  • Acupuncture has been used in Asia for about 3,000 years; knowledge about it is largely “empirical” (based on experience) because no one was doing biochemical or bioelectric research back then!

Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture is not painful, especially since the needles are small and inserted very shallowly. There may be a tingling or warming sensation while the needle is in place. This is associated with mild inflammation and stimulation of the nearby tissues (especially nerves). It is said that this sensation is the movement of chi or energy and some say this is an indication that the acupuncture is working! For some animals and humans, an acupuncture treatment triggers a relaxation response.

When will I see results?
It typically takes four to six treatments for us to assess how well acupuncture may be able to help a particular patient. Some patients feel a little worse (e.g., more stiff) for up to a day after a treatment.

How often will my pet need to come in?
Usually, we strive for weekly appointments at the beginning. Then we try to wean down to as infrequently as possible to maintain the patient. This may be every few weeks or even months.

Who practices acupuncture at Deer Creek?
Dr. Kelly Breslin and Dr. Katie MacMillan integrate acupuncture into their practice of veterinary medicine. Both have extensive training in acupuncture, as well as doctorates in veterinary medicine. The American Veterinary Medical Association deems acupuncture part of the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery, and it is important to have strong knowledge of animal-specific anatomy to perform acupuncture on pets.

Call us to explore if acupuncture is right for your pet or ask at your next appointment.