• Chappelle Small Animal Hospital: Fort Collins Vet Services


Client Education Articles

Veterinary Acupuncture FAQ’s

What is veterinary acupuncture?

Veterinary Acupuncture is an ancient treatment method used in China for at least 3000 years. According to the basic foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine, disease is the result of an imbalance of the energy flow in the body. Acupuncture is believed to balance this energy by redirecting it's flow and, thereby, assist the body to heal. The ancient Chinese observed that stimulation of specific areas on the body surface could relieve pain and internal discomfort and assist in healing as well. These "acupoints" were organized into relationships called channels. The placement of acupuncture needles into specific acupoints along these channels encourages the body to balance, heal and overcome pain. It is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and improve function.

How does veterinary acupuncture work?

In Western terms, acupuncture can assist the body to heal itself by affecting certain physiological changes like increasing blood circulation, releasing hormones and neurotransmitters (endorphins), regulating the endocrine system, relieving muscle spasm, stimulating the immune system, etc. Acupoints are tiny areas on the skin that contain relatively concentrated levels of nerve endings, lymphatics, and blood vessels. Acupoints can be readily identified by their lower electrical resistance, and are usually located in small palpable depressions detectable by trained acupuncturists. Substances released as the result of acupuncture not only relaxes the whole body, they regulate serotonin in the brain which plays a role in human and animal disposition.

What conditions does it treat?

Both acute and chronic conditions can be effectively treated with acupuncture.  Arthritis and other muscle, bone and joint problems, intervertebral disc disease, neurological, skin & gastrointestinal problems, immune system imbalances & allergies, some cases of organ failure, emotional disorders & cancer and can also help in recovery/rehabilitation after surgery or injury.

Is acupuncture painful?

The insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless. Most animals become very relaxed and may even become sleepy. Never less, acupuncture may cause some sensation which may be noticed by some animals but very well tolerated.

How long do acupuncture treatments take and how often are they given?

The length and frequency of acupuncture treatments depends on the condition of the patient and the method of stimulation that is used by the veterinary acupuncturist. Stimulation of an individual acupuncture point may take as little as 10 seconds or as long as 30 minutes but on average a session will last 20 minutes. A simple acute problem, such as a sprain, may require only one treatment, whereas more severe or chronic ailments may need several treatments. Positive results are generally seen after the first to fourth treatment. When multiple treatments are necessary, they usually begin intensively and are tapered to maximum efficiency. Pet owners are encouraged to be present for their pet’s treatment.