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We are proud to offer Veterinary Acupuncture services provided by Dr. Jessica Cantrell.  Dr. Cantrell is certified in small and large animal Medical Acupuncture through Colorado State University.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body, which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve a healing effect.  Acupuncture works best after obtaining a good Western medical diagnosis.  Acupuncture works well where indicated, and when used alone or in conjunction with other rehabilitation modalities and traditional veterinary medications.  Veterinary acupuncture has been used to treat animals for nearly 4,000 years in China.  In North America, it has been used for decades, in both domestic and exotic animals.  In veterinary medicine, an interest in acupuncture has recently gained significant interest due to scientific research and evidence based medicine supporting the beneficial effects of acupuncture in our animal patients.  Acupuncture is one of a variety of therapies a veterinarian may use to treat your pet.

How does Acupuncture work?

Ancient Chinese medical philosophy believes that disease is a result of an imbalance of energy in the body.  Acupuncture is believed to balance this energy, and thereby assist the body in healing disease.  In Western terms, acupuncture can assist the body’s efforts to heal itself by causing certain physiologic changes.  For example, acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasms, and, cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body’s pain control chemicals) or cortisol (a natural steroid). 

What are some of the uses of Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is known to have therapeutic effects in a wide variety of animal species and diseases.  Pain modification is an important application of veterinary acupuncture, but there are much wider applications.  Examples of clinical conditions where veterinary acupuncture may be used are:

  • Musculoskeletal and neurological conditions
  • Anxiety
  • Dermatological problems
  • Urinary tract disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Respiratory problems
  • Ocular disorders
  • Reproductive problems

How long do Acupuncture treatments last, and how often are they needed?

The length and frequency of treatments depends on the problem and condition of your pet.  The total number of treatments and frequency is VERY individually based.  Stimulation of an individual acupuncture point may be for as little as 10 seconds, or as long as 20 minutes. 

There are no set rules, but some guidelines:
-generally, acute problems require less time and frequency when compared to treatment of chronic cases
-neurologic defects do better with more in most cases
-a positive response is generally seen after the third treatment in chronic cases

We ask that we try for ~6 treatments in small animal and exotic cases.

Once optimum response is achieved, treatments can be tapered off so the greatest amount of symptom free time elapses between them.  However, acupuncture is often used for preventative care and maintenance of pets that are competitors (agility dogs, fly ball dogs), pets at risk for disease, or older patients.

What to expect post-treatment?

Patients should be encouraged to rest for 24-48 hours after their acupuncture treatment.  That means, no competing, no jumping or strenuous exercise.  Many patients have the experience of feeling “wiped out” after a treatment, while others immediately experience relief and are ready for play. 

How Do I Get My Pet Started With Acupuncture Treatments

As with traditional "Western" medicine, your pet would need a yearly exam and a working diagnosis to begin Acupuncture treatments.  While we would not recommend that acupuncture completely replace "Western" medical approaches, it can be a safe and effective complement to your pet's current treatment plan.  Dr. Cantrell will be the doctor performing the acupuncture treatments, however any of our doctors may make the treatment recommendation as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

If you have questions about Acupuncture or any of the treatments we offer, do not hesitate to call (760) 634.2022.