How can acupuncture help my dog, cat, rabbit, or ferret?

Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system and helps the body restore homeostasis, or balance.

It is an excellent addition to conventional Western medicine for the treatment of many conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Pain (osteoarthritis, neck/back pain/ intervertebral disk disease, post-surgery pain, etc.) by stimulating the release of the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals and by altering pain signaling and processing within the spinal cord and brain.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by modulating the immune system and decreasing inflammation
  • Megacolon by decreasing lower back pain and stimulating GI motility
  • Gastric Ulceration by increasing blood flow to the stomach.  It may be difficult to accept that inserting a needle into the leg can affect blood flow to internal organs, but the fact that heart attack patients often experience arm pain demonstrates a similar interaction.
  • Upper Respiratory Disease/ Sinusitis by improving appetite and decreasing congestion
  • Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (bladder inflammation) by decreasing pain, inflammation,  and stress
  • Chronic Kidney Failure by increasing blood flow to the kidneys and improving appetite.  This will NOT cure kidney failure, but can improve quality of life.

What is a typical acupuncture session like? Is it painful for my pet?

Several small needles are inserted into specific points, depending upon the condition being treated.  They are advanced to just beneath the skin or into underlying muscle and left in place for 10-20 minutes.  The needles are solid and thin—much smaller than those used to administer vaccinations or obtain blood samples.  Many pets do not notice the needles being inserted, but they may feel a dull ache when the needles are manipulated.  Sometimes a small battery-powered unit is attached to the needles to enhance the effect of treatment.  This does not result in a painful electric shock but rather a tingling feeling.

The most challenging aspect of acupuncture in pets is overcoming their fear of the veterinary hospital and convincing them to sit still long enough to insert the needles.  For this reason, other procedures (vaccination, drawing blood, administering medication) are avoided during acupuncture visits if at all possible.  Favorite toys, treats, beds, and lots of petting are helpful.  Fewer needles are typically inserted during the first session and left in for a shorter period of time in order to gradually introduce the pet to acupuncture and make the experience as pleasant as possible.

Are there side effects of acupuncture?

Pets may feel a bit lethargic or drowsy for a day or two after treatment, thanks to their nervous system “workout”. This can be compared to feeling the effects of strenuous exercise.  On occasion, very mild bleeding from the needle insertion sites may occur.

How often should acupuncture be done?

This depends upon the condition being treated and the individual patient.  Just as more than one dose of a medication is required to treat a given ailment, more than one acupuncture treatment is necessary. While treatment frequency will depend upon the specific condition being treated, we typically recommend bringing your pet in for acupuncture treatments once a week for the first three to six weeks. Treatment frequency will then be adjusted depending on your pet’s response.

Laser Therapy

Blue Ridge Veterinary Associates proudly offers laser therapy to help patients find rapid symptom relief from a variety of medical conditions, including: arthritis, neurological conditions, slow healing wounds and chronic pain.

Laser therapy is a non-invasive procedure that does not require your pet to be under anesthesia. These treatments are completely safe and effective and work to minimize or eliminate your pet’s pain.

If you feel your pet would benefit from our laser therapy services, please give us a call at (540) 751-3700 to schedule an appointment.