Hope Animal Hospital offers medical based acupuncture for pets. Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for both acute and chronic medical conditions. It works by stimulating nerves throughout the body’s nervous system, which helps patients recover from injury and illness. Acupuncture increases circulation and reduces both pain and inflammation. It is the application of thin/sterile needles to specific points, which leads to improved function of specific muscles, organs and nerves.

Dr. Nancy Ashley and Dr. Alison Mason are Hope’s certified acupuncturists. Initial appointments are 1 hour, subsequent appointments are 30 minutes. Most pets benefit from weekly acupuncture sessions. Duration of treatment varies from pet to pet, however we find that the average course is 5-10 sessions.

Acupuncture can be used for:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis 
  • Back or neck pain
  • Incontinence
  • Nausea or decreased appetite
  • Orthopedic injury such as hip dysplasia, knee injuries, shoulder pain, elbow dysplasia and many others
  • Post-operative recovery
  • Respiratory Diseases such as feline asthma
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Specific muscular pain or spasms

It can also help with reducing the symptoms from illness including:

  • Cancer
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye Conditions (ex: dry eye or glaucoma)
  • Itchiness or skin disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Seizures

Frequently Asked Questions:

What does acupuncture do and how does it work?

Acupuncture addresses imbalances within the body by regulating the central nervous system through our nerves, muscles, soft tissues, and blood vessels. To use a computer analogy: Information is inputted through buttons on the keyboard, analogous to needle points in the body. The information is sent to the computer tower, analogous to our brain. In turn, the results are relayed on the computer screen, analogous to physical response and changes sent from the brain. 

With acupuncture, we are facilitating communication within the body through various pathways. When we insert needles through the skin, we get both local and whole body effects. Messages travel up the local nerves into the spinal cord and brain and we get responses through the entire body as the nervous system communicates. The brain, through neuromodulation with acupuncture needles, releases hormones that cause the reduction of muscle and nerve pain and organ dysfunction. Acupuncture can be used for both acute and chronic conditions. Acupuncture lets us tap into the animal’s own natural pharmacy.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

Acupuncture is one of the safest therapies utilized. Occasionally an animal’s condition may deteriorate temporarily before improving but this effect typically resolves within 24-48 hours. Because acupuncture balances the body’s own system of healing and no drugs are used, complications and side effects rarely develop.

Is Acupuncture painful to my pet?

Acupuncture utilizes sterilized single-use thin stainless steel needles. There may be an occasional brief moment of sensitivity as the needle penetrates the skin in certain sensitive areas. Once the needles are in place, most animals relax, and may fall asleep during treatment.

How will I know if acupuncture is successful for my pet?

Success with acupuncture is about individual goals for you and your pet. The overall goal of every treatment is to increase comfort and quality of life. It is important to note that your pet’s condition may get worse before better. Your pet’s condition may never fully improve, but acupuncture helps slow progression. When conditions get worse before better (a possible result), this is an indication the nervous system is working. You will work with your doctor to set both objective and subjective goals.

Why do I need acupuncture, aren’t drugs and surgery sufficient?

This is not a “black and white” issue. In some instances, acupuncture may be able to replace drugs and surgery, but it can also be used in conjunction with drugs and surgery. With acupuncture, we are using the body’s natural processes and tissues to promote health and balance. This may allow us to, in 
some situations, avoid and/or decrease the amount of drugs and/or surgery needed. You need to remember that acupuncture is a non-pharmaceutical and non-surgical treatment option that is very safe and can help to reduce pain, decrease anxiety, promote balance, and improve the body’s immune function.

How long is a typical treatment, how long are the needles in for, and how often are patients treated for?

The first session will take more time, as during this session we need to take a complete history and perform a full physical exam. One hour of doctor time is allotted for the initial acupuncture consult. Myofascial evaluation is performed prior to each session to allow for the continued development of the most optimal treatment plan. Different pet’s will require different amounts of time for needles to stay in and more time may be required when introducing electroacupuncture. Needles may stay in anywhere from a few seconds/minutes to 20/25 minutes. Different types and size needles are chosen based upon different patient tolerances and individual needs. Patients are often treated 1-2 times a week for 4-6 weeks. A positive response is often noticed within the first 4-6 treatments, though sometimes earlier. After the initial treatment period some patients continue being treated weekly while some are treated once monthly to once every 6 weeks. The schedule/interval is based on your pet’s response.

What is a myofascial exam?

An acupuncture appointment begins with a myofascial exam. This is a gentle hands-on systematic evaluation of soft tissues to determine any patterns of strain and/or pain indicative of underlying disease or injury. This information is used to specifically guide my needle placement and develop my acupuncture treatment.

What does the myofascial exam tell you?

The myofascial exam provides the opportunity to evaluate patterns of tension and pain related to compensation from musculoskeletal as well as other disease processes. This provides information to develop a therapeutic plan to relieve more compression and provide neuromodulation as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. It also gives the patients the opportunity to relax and be more comfortable for treatment.

What does it mean when you say you are “treating the whole patient” when acupuncture is utilized?

Bodies are all tied together, and on a daily basis, they need to respond to environmental, physical, and nutritional stresses. If we don’t look at the whole body, we may miss other issues that might affect the overall health of your pet or their quality of life. As an example, left arm pain could be a heart attack, strain, sprain, injury, or nutritional deficiency or excess. By not looking at the whole patient and not addressing other issues, we may not fully treat the patient. Acupuncture allows us to establish a more definitive and complete diagnosis.

What is the value in taking an integrative approach to my pet’s condition?

We are able to incorporate complementary modalities into our current understanding of both illness and wellness. Acupuncture is a scientific based complimentary modality. With our western medical education it allows us to develop a progressive approach to your pet’s medical condition. Additional values include promoting healing, lowering or elimination the requirements for drugs and surgery, optimizing quality of life, and a more comprehensive evaluation of your pet’s condition that may lead to a more solid diagnosis. Acupuncture is very safe and can also be fun for both you and your pet.

Alternative Medicine

The philosophy of holistic medicine is to look at all aspects of the entire animal and be open to using a variety of treatments. Holistic... More

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