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Pet Acupuncture and Herbal Medication

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Dr. Kimberley Suh DVM,CVA | kim@marionanimalhospital.com
What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a method of health care with roots in ancient China. Its techniques have been developed and refined through at least 3000 years of continuous use. Acupuncture today is recognized throughout the world as a safe and effective form of medicine when practiced by certified veterinarians.

How Acupuncture Works

Science has learned much about how and why acupuncture works. Research has proven the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of many canine and feline diseases. We know that acupuncture points can be located by measuring the electrical potential of the skin. We know needling non-acupuncture points does not produce the healing effects of acupuncture.

Acupuncture along the spine

The meridians are generally found along the courses of nerve and blood vessels, and the acupuncture points are associated with certain types of nerve endings. The stimulation of nerve endings by the needles creates a set of responses in the body which are unique to acupuncture. Acupuncture prompts the production of neurochemicals called endorphins by the brain, and the release of hormones including cortisol by the pituitary and other glands. These substances are part of the body’s own defenses against pain and inflammation.

Evaluation and Treatment

Before therapy can begin, a Chinese diagnosis is made. This is accomplished through a systematic process of evaluating a patient by observing, touching, listening, and inquiring. The resulting Chinese diagnosis is the basis for planing or prescribing therapy. A simple acupuncture point or group of points is selected to correct a dog’s specific energetic excesses or deficiencies. Once the acupuncture prescription or group of points is chosen, therapy can begin. The most commonly used technique being the use of very thin, sterile, solid Chinese needles. The application of the needles is relatively non-painful. There is a prick of the skin at the onset and then the sensation of energy or heat flowing.
Acupuncture in a PawThe majority of dogs and cats go through a typical sequence of responses during treatment. At the onset they may be apprehensive, followed by a deep, almost sedative relaxation. As the treatment is coming to an end, they may become slightly uncomfortable. Then, the needles are removed. Most dogs tolerate it well and even enjoy it. The treatment session may last from 10 to 30 minutes. Depending on the treatment intensity, the patient may be fatigued for a day or two. Excessive exercise following a treatment is not recommended. The frequency of treatments and the duration of time between sessions depend on the animal. As mentioned before, each animal is a unique being and will heal at different rates and tolerate the therapy differently. Therefore each set of acupuncture points, as well as the frequency and duration of treatments, is developed for each patient. Average therapy consist of two to eight treatments separated by 14 to 30 days.


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