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  • Dr. Arielle Herndober, CVA, CVSMT, CCRP

ACUPUNCTURE FOR PETS


WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE FOR PETS?

Acupuncture is a non-invasive treatment that involves inserting thin needles into specific points in your pet’s body to bring it back into balance.


Acupuncture is part of the ancient practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, your pet’s body has hundreds of acupuncture points. All of these points lie on channels or pathways throughout the body called meridians. These pathways or meridians allow the free flowing movement of Qi (pronounced “chee”) through the body. Qi is considered the body’s life force or energy. When the smooth flow of Qi is disrupted, this can result in disease or discomfort. Treating specific acupuncture points helps to improve the movement of Qi through the body and thus can improve overall health.


WHAT CONDITIONS BENEFIT FROM ACUPUNCTURE?

Acupuncture can help a variety of conditions which affect our pets. For some conditions it can be used as a singular modality, replacing drugs or conventional medications; while for others it provides additional support to help relieve side effects of medications or helps to improve a pet’s overall sense of well being.


-ACUPUNCTURE FOR ARTHRITIS

Arthritis can result in pain and discomfort in muscles and joints. Acupuncture can help to relieve this pain by releasing endorphins and other molecules in the body which help to reduce pain and inflammation. This can result in improved quality of life and lower doses of conventional medications.


-ACUPUNCTURE FOR BACK PAIN (INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISEASE AKA IVDD)

Back pain can be a debilitating condition for pets and commonly occurs in breeds such as French bulldogs and dachshunds. Intervertebral disc disease can result in significant levels of pain and even paralysis. Acupuncture can help to relieve the pain and muscle spasms associated with disc compression and can be used to help manage the back pain without surgery. It can also be used to help support patients post-operatively as well.


-ACUPUNCTURE FOR SEIZURE DISORDERS/EPILEPSY

Seizures in your pet can be a frightening experience. Acupuncture can be utilized as an additional treatment option to help control seizures which may result in less dependency on medications or may help to make the medications more effective.


-ACUPUNCTURE FOR ALLERGIES

Allergies can be a frustrating condition to treat in pets. Acupuncture focuses on treating the root cause of your pet’s allergies. This may help to reduce the symptoms of their allergies and may reduce or eliminate the need for allergy medications.


-ACUPUNCTURE FOR DENGENERATIVE MYELOPATHY

Degenerative myelopathy is a disease which commonly affects German shepherds and boxers. It results in progressive weakness and eventually complete loss of the ability to use the legs. While there are no treatments to cure degenerative myelopathy, acupuncture can be helpful at slowing the progression of the disease and reducing the pain associated with secondary muscle strains.


-ACUPUNCTURE FOR KIDNEY DISEASE

Kidney disease can cause symptoms of reduced appetite, nausea and increased thirst. Acupuncture can be used to reduce the symptoms associated with kidney disease and help to improve your pet’s overall sense of wellbeing.


-ACUPUNCTURE FOR CUSHING'S DISEASE

Cushing’s disease is typically managed with medications. These medications can have side effects and do not actually cure the disease. While acupuncture does not have the ability to cure patients with Cushing’s disease, it can be very helpful at reducing the symptoms associated with the disease.


-ACUPUNCTURE FOR CANCER

While acupuncture cannot cure cancer, it can provide support for patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. It can also provide palliative care for patients who elect to forgo conventional therapies.


HOW SOON WILL ACUPUNCTURE HELP MY PET?

Typically, patients with acute conditions will improve more quickly than those pets suffering from chronic conditions - you may even notice improvement after the first visit. Patients whose conditions are more chronic in nature may take longer to improve. Generally, most conditions benefit from once weekly treatments for the first 4-6 weeks. Patients with chronic conditions such as arthritis may require maintenance treatments to provide continued relief.


WILL ACUPUNCTURE HURT MY PET?

Acupuncture needles are thin and push the skin out of the way rather than cut it. While some acupuncture points may be sensitive and cause slight discomfort once the needles are inserted, this discomfort typically quickly subsides. Some people worry that their pets may not tolerate the treatment, but most pets sit still for their treatments and some even fall asleep!


WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF PET ACUPUNCTURE?

When performed by a trained and certified veterinary acupuncturist, acupuncture is generally safe with minimal side effects. Some patients may have a temporary worsening of their symptoms or maybe a little sore for 24-28 hours after treatment. Bruising, breaking of the needle, needle ingestion or puncture of internal organs are all extremely rare but possible side effects.


HOW CAN MY PET START ACUPUNCTURE AT HEALING TAILS?

All new acupuncture patients are scheduled for an 1 hour initial exam. During this exam we will review the primary concern for which you are seeking acupuncture for your pet. We will review their medical history, supplements, medications and diet. Random behaviors or occurrences which may not be pertinent for a western medical exam are likely important for your pets initial exam at Healing Tails. This includes things such as:

-Your pet’s sleep patterns

-Their preference for hot or cold environments

-The time of day which their symptoms seem to be worse

-If the pet dreams while asleep

-Weather conditions which seem to aggravate their symptoms


During the exam - we will assess your pet’s tongue and pulse. This provides pertinent information about the balance of their body and overall state of health After we assess the tongue and pulse we will perform a thorough physical exam. Things such as:

-The quality of your pet’s haircoat

-The location of any lesions

-Body odor

All provide valuable information which helps to guide your pet’s treatment. After the assessment we will provide comprehensive information regarding diet modifications, supplements and an acupuncture treatment plan highly individualized for your pet’s specific issues.


Ready to schedule an appointment? Click the logo below to fill out an inquiry form and a team member will get back to you as soon as possible.






Dr. Arielle Herndobler is the owner and founder of Healing Tails, a clinic located in Chicago focusing on physical rehabilitation and holistic medicine for pets. She is certified in acupuncture, certified veterinary spinal manipulation therapy (chiropractic) and physical rehabilitation.