Acupuncture: Where change begins

Hi I’m Sam one of the vets here at Crown Vets.

Today I wanted to talk to you about the acupuncture service I provide here at the practice, and how it can be really helpful to your pets. I love being able to offer acupuncture to my clients and their pets as it allows me to build up a great relationship with them, and provide pain management treatment tailored to them too.

What is acupuncture and how does it work?

Acupuncture works by inserting fine, solid needles into the body, usually for pain relief. The needles block pain signals and encourage the brain and central nervous system to produce more of the body’s natural painkillers.  

What kinds of conditions are treated with acupuncture? 

The most common condition that I see in my acupuncture patients is chronic pain. Usually this means pain associated with arthritis – which is really common in our older pets.

I also have patients with muscle strains, pain secondary to disc disease and bony changes of the spine that have responded really well too.

I almost always use acupuncture as part of a wider treatment strategy including pain medications, home modifications and other physical therapies.

What can you expect during treatment? 

  • First of all, I will have a really good chat with you to see how your pet is getting on at home, and what their current medications and treatments are. This is one of the things I like the most about acupuncture clinics as it gives me a chance to get to know you and your pet really well.
  • Then I set up the treatment area with a comfy blanket or yoga mat for your pet to rest on, and I grab some of our best treats too to add extra enjoyment to the session.
  • Next, I will give your pet a thorough examination to work out where they are sore, and then I place the needles into various parts of the body. The needles are moved or stimulated a few times during treatment too.  
  • It is not uncommon for my clients to tell me that their pets go home and sleep very soundly for a long time following their treatment. Other times owners tell me that their pet seems a little more lively than usual and need to be kept quiet for the rest of the day to stop them overdoing it. Both of these are really good signs and show that they should respond well to acupuncture.

What about the next couple of days?

Your pet may show one of three responses to treatment:

1. They may seem a little stiffer or more uncomfortable for a couple of days. This just means that the dose was a bit too much, but also shows that they should respond to treatment. After a day or two they will improve again and should be better than before.

2. You may see no response. This is always disappointing but does not mean your pet will not respond; it may just be that they will take a little longer or that their improvement after the first treatment was too brief or small for you to see. We cannot say that they will not respond until after the fourth treatment. Not all animals are acupuncture “responders”, but about 80% will be.

3. You may see an improvement. This may occur anytime in the three days after treatment. The signs that we are trying to treat may then return before the next treatment, but this is fine. After each subsequent treatment the effects should last for longer, so that your pet may eventually not need more treatments for some time.

How often would your pet be treated?

The usual course is once a week for four to six weeks – this is why I get to know you and your pet really well!

After four weeks we will know whether acupuncture is working for your pet and then, depending on their condition and how they have responded, we will work out a plan that usually involves tailing off the treatment so that the effect is maintained for as long as possible between sessions.

If you think acupuncture might help your pet, then give me a call at the practice – I’m always happy to chat!