Glastonbury CT Vet

Veterinary Acupuncture

Connecticut Vet Acupuncture

CT Vet AcupunctureAcupuncture is an ancient method of therapy and is used in a wide variety of human and animal disorders. Acupuncture was first described by the Ancient Chinese and consisted of stimulating designated and precise points on the surface of the body by the insertion of fine solid needles or by application of heat (Moxibustion). More recently, a variety of techniques that utilize modern technology have been developed including electrical stimulation, the implantation of substances and low power laser acupuncture.

Veterinary acupuncture is a healing science that deals with the individual animal as a living, energetic being, rather than a catalogue of signs and symptoms. Effective veterinary acupuncture practice is based upon both the natural and scientific aspects of healing. The training of a veterinary acupuncturist includes both eastern and western medical methods in a synthesis of medical insight.

Veterinary acupuncture may be used to relieve pain and improve the function of various systems of an animal's body via stimulation of the proper reflex points. These points are mainly located in the superficial muscles and skin.


How does veterinary acupuncture work?

CT Vet AcupunctureThe short answer is that the physical stimulation (needle) causes bioelectric effects that travel through the body via the nervous system. The traditional explanation is that each human or animal is born with a fixed amount of Vital Essence (Jing) at birth. Jing is spent in the work of living. The Jing is supported and expressed by the movement of Qi (Vital Energy) throughout the body via a system of channels or meridians. Qi is replenished by food and air. These meridians flow on the surface of the body and also deep within the body connecting all organs and tissues in a vast network. Disease can arise when there is an imbalance or disruption in the flow of Qi through these meridians. Certain areas along the meridians that travel the surface of the body provide access to the energy carried in the meridians and allow a trained acupuncturist to affect the flow and quality of Qi in the body. These areas are the acupuncture points. By stimulating these points, sometimes located far from the site of symptoms, the veterinary acupuncturist can assist the body to heal itself by balancing its own vital energies. This balancing is mediated primarily via the nervous system, but other physiological mechanisms including hormonal and humoral factors are also involved. The balance in turn may be used to adjust blood flow, nervous and muscle tone, hormone levels or the function of the organs.

Acupuncture is based on the discovery that certain areas ("points") on the surface of the body are related to specific internal body organs and functions. This discovery has since been confirmed by many western studies. By meticulously studying different disease states, the Chinese were able to develop a whole model of the relationships between the superficial "points" and the internal organs as they related to normal body function.


How does veterinary acupuncture differ from western veterinary medicine?

Western medicine (including veterinary science) focuses on the diagnosis of the underlying disease process and structural changes. Specific treatment, usually the prescribing of medication, is given to correct that specific health problem. Veterinary acupuncture concentrates on evidence of abnormal changes in homeostasis function that underlie the presenting symptoms of the organ(s) involved. Treatment consists of active or other carefully selected points. This treatment may be localized, but often is generalized to the whole body and may improve other concurrent conditions.

In clinical practice, veterinary acupuncture is utilized for its diagnostic, therapeutic and hypoalgesic properties. Hypersensitivity at particular points involved in cutaneo-somatovisceral reflexes can be used as a diagnostic aid in conjunction with diagnostic approaches routinely used in western veterinary medicine. Therapeutic uses of acupuncture are discussed in the following section.

A vast amount of knowledge is needed before acupuncture can be practiced satisfactorily, except for a few selected treatments. It is suitable for certain aspects of first aid and emergency use. Acupuncture can be regarded as a self-regulating system of medicine. The neuro-endocrine responses activated by the needle are the very ones the body uses to regulate its several physiological processes.

Knowledge of veterinary anatomy and medicine is essential to the practice of veterinary acupuncture. Experienced veterinarians who are equally trained in veterinary acupuncture can usefully apply veterinary acupuncture in the treatment of many functional diseases.


What types of conditions are responsive?

CT Vet AcupunctureThe primary aim in veterinary acupuncture (as in other veterinary medical modalities) is to stimulate and strengthen the body's adaptive/homeostatic mechanisms. Therefore, acupuncture is only one modality among many which can be used in an attempt to aid, stimulate or complement the defense mechanisms of the body.

Acupuncture is known to have effects on all major physiological systems and to have significant therapeutic value in a wide variety of human and animal diseases. Of course, it is not a panacea. There are situations in which the practice of acupuncture would be useless. For example, any condition where the body's homeostatic or adaptive mechanisms are incapable of responding would not be reversible by acupuncture. On the other hand, there are certain circumstances where the use of acupuncture may be the method of choice, such as shock or anesthetic apnea. The application of acupuncture is appropriate in all functional and some structural disorders (inflammation, burns, trauma, edema, etc. are structural). There are reports published in texts and journals, and some from other veterinary practices, which list many clinical conditions that respond partially or completely to veterinary acupuncture therapy. Some of the therapeutic effects of acupuncture have been studied under experimental conditions in animals and the acupuncture techniques have been shown to be effective. (See the bibliography for further details, especially the reviews authored by or in part by P.A.M. Rogers, MVB).


Can western veterinary science and veterinary acupuncture by combined?

Yes. Most veterinary practitioners who perform acupuncture combine what is useful from each source. Veterinary acupuncture is often helpful in treating conditions sometimes unresponsive to western drug oriented treatments, such as striated or smooth muscle spasm, or certain stages of thoracolumbar disc disease. In some instances, certain medications will interfere with the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment by decreasing the sensitivity and responsiveness of the body. However, some conditions, most notably infections and conditions with structural changes (e.g. fractures or tumors) normally respond more rapidly to western techniques. Frequently, however, the two approaches can be combined to the patient's benefit. For example, in the treatment of bovine ketosis, acupuncture treatments can be combined with glucose infusions.


What about healthy animals and prophylactic care?

One would expect acupuncture to be helpful to animals in the prevention of disease, as it is in humans. Acupuncture can improve the patient's state of well being through improving body energy balance. In this way, the body is aided by support of the homeostatic and body defense mechanisms to handle more easily the stresses of everyday life.


Is it safe?

Acupuncture has been used for some 3,500 years in China. It is still a favored treatment for one quarter of the world's population despite thirty years of comparison to western medicine. Most side effects are minor and very infrequent; for example, infection at the needle site is extremely rare. Acupuncture is usually performed with thin flexible needles most often made of stainless steel. There is nothing "special" in the needle. The needle is one means of stimulating the points to balance body energy. There can be brief pain of a minor nature as the needle passes through the skin, similar to a bug bite. As physiological changes begin, the animal may experience other sensations equivalent to the subjective human experiences of relaxation or local numbness, heat, dull aching or tingling. Currently, laser acupuncture is being evaluated as a painless non-invasive technique.


How often and for how long does one treat?

Usually a treatment lasts anywhere from 10 seconds to 30 minutes, depending upon the problem being treated. Treatments may be required as often as 1-3 times per week and may last for a period of 4-6 weeks. A positive response is often (but not always) noticed within the first 4-6 treatments and sometimes earlier, depending on the condition being treated.



Altman, S.; An Introduction to Acupuncture for Animals, (1981), (Available from IVAS).

American Journal of Acupuncture, (1973-) Published quarterly from 1840 Forty-First Avenue-Suite 102, P.O. Box 610, Capitola, CA 95010, USA Australian Veterinary Acupuncture Newsletter, c/o 19 Iluka Avenue, Aspendale, Victoria 3195, Australia Centre de Documentation du Gera, 192 Chemin des Cedres, F-83130 La Garde, France.

Baxter, G. David; Therapeutic Lasers, Theory and Practice, Churchill Livingstone Inc., New York, NY 10011, USA, (1994).

Bossy, Jean; Essai Bibliographique Sur L'Acupuncture. Scientia Orientalis No. 15 (1977) Published by Universit Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg (1979).

Cheng Xinnong, ed.' Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Foreign Languages Press, Beiging, PRC, 1987.

Gilchrist, D.; Manual of Acupuncture for small animals. (1981).

International Journal on Veterinary Acupuncture, (1990-) published by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.

Acupuncture and Electrotherapeutic Research, Pergamon Press, Maxwell House, Fairview Park, Elmsford, NJ 10523, USA Janssens, L.A.A.; Acupuncture Points and Meridians in the Dog. Distributed by IVAS.

Janssens, L.A.A.; Some Aspects of Small Animal Acupuncture, distributed by SATAS-Green Line Medical Books, P.O. Box 14, B-1080 Brussssels 8, Belgium, and also by IVAS.

Kaptchuk, Ted J.; The Web That Has No Weaver, Congdon and Weed, Inc., New York, NY, USA (1983).

Klide, A.M. and Kung, S.H.; Veterinary Acupuncture. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A. (1977) or Pendragon Pressss, Lizard Town, Helston, South Conwall, England.

Kothbauer, O. and Meng, A.; Grundlagen Der Veterinar Akupunktur, Verlag Welsemuhl, Wels, (1983) (German).

Lin, J.H. and Rogers, P.A.M.; Acupuncture Effects on the Body's Defense System; Veterinary Review. Vet. Bulletin 50, 630-640, 1980.

Maciocia, Giovanni; The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, Churchill Livingstone Inc., New York, NY, USA (1989).

Proceedings of the International Veterinary Acupuncture Annual Conferences on Veterinary Acupuncture. Published by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. (only available from the 8th Annual Conference on).

Rogers, P.A.M. and Bossy, J.; Activation of the Defense Systems of the Body in Animals