What is Acupuncture?

Donal has been performing acupuncture on a variety of patients for twenty years with great success.

Acupuncture is a safe, effective and drug-free alternative or additional treatment for a variety of conditions in animals. By promoting natural healing processes, reducing pain and inflammation and improving overall well being, acupuncture can help pets to live happier and healthier lives.

Appointments can be made by ringing the surgery on 01825 764268 or you can speak to one of our vets to see whether they think that acupuncture could be beneficial to your animal.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient practice of placing needles into the body to help alleviate pain and to help control many medical problems.  Most people think that it originated in China but there is some debate as to whether it was actually used in Europe or Egypt first. Otzi the Italian mummy found in the Italian Alps had tattoos on his body that marked out acupuncture points showing that acupuncture was being practised in Europe 5,300 years ago.

How does it work?

Acupuncture works in a variety of different ways. Inserting a needle into a tense muscle can physically release this tension (much like a deep muscle massage does) but it also releases endorphins and inflammatory mediators (the body’s natural painkillers) but the main action of acupuncture is to confuse the nervous system. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body known as acupoints, to stimulate the body’s natural healing process.

In chronic pain, the pain nerves are constantly firing and get stuck in a loop. Initially with a painful area this is beneficial to the body as it stops you using an injured body part and allows it to heal. However over time this becomes self-destructive leading to chronic pain and all the associated problems with this. The acupuncture needle stimulates certain nerves which can ‘switch off’ these pain nerves. The best way of describing it is that chronic pain is alike a computer that is frozen and the acupuncture needle reboots the computer and gets it working properly again.

Which species can have acupuncture?

Acupuncture can be carried out on any species of animal. At the practice our most common acupuncture patients are dogs, cats and horses but we also regularly acupuncture alpacas, donkeys, and sheep and even the odd rabbit or guinea pig from time to time.

What problems can acupuncture help?

There’s a wide variety of problems that can be helped by acupuncture. In dogs and cats the most common presentation is for arthritis and the associate pain and muscle tension. It is also used for a wide variety of ailments from skin disease to epilepsy. It can also be beneficial in the management of behavioural issues such as anxiety and aggression.

It can be used as an alternative to traditional medication but is frequently used in conjunction with more traditional treatments.

It has proved beneficial to horses with conditions such as back pain or respiratory disorders.

Does it hurt and do animals get upset when they have acupuncture?

 Acupuncture needles are very fine and very sharp and you don’t actually feel them going through the skin at all. When an area of muscle tension is hit with an acupuncture needle there is sometimes the sensation of a jolt of electricity but most animals tolerate it very well. The great thing about the acupuncture is that animals feel better while they’re having it so they associate it with feeling better. Even the most nervous of patients learn to love it after a few sessions. It also has a soporific effect on most animals. The different species react in different ways. Dogs tend to get very chilled and usually lie out for a snooze. We’ve had several dogs that used to be very nervous about coming into the practice but after a few acupuncture sessions we often have problems making them leave! Cats surprisingly also tend to take it in their stride and will frequently curl up and go to sleep.

Donkeys and alpacas tend to freeze. Horses tend to react in one of two ways, most will chill out and relax but some will need to have a light sedation especially if the tension is deep seated.

How often do they have to have a session?

The length and time frame of acupuncture treatment will vary depending on the condition being treated and the individual animal. Acute conditions may only require a few treatments while chronic conditions may require ongoing maintenance treatments.
For problems such as arthritis there has been a lot of ‘wind up’ of the nerves and muscle tension has built up over a long period. This means that the body has often learnt to sit in the wrong position for a period of time. It can take a while to retrain both the nervous system and the muscles to return to a state of normality so initially we tend to see these animals weekly for the first few session (usually between 3-6)
Once the alleviation of pain and muscle tension is being maintained we then start to stretch the time between sessions. In a maintenance state most animals come to see us every 6-8 weeks or so though that does vary from patient to patient.
For acute problems e.g. back pain in a horse caused by an ill-fitting saddle then usually just one or two sessions is needed to eliminate the problem.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to ring the surgery on 01825 764268

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If you would like to register your pets with us at Fairfield House then please give us a call now, or follow the link to fill in a registration form and one of our friendly members of staff will be in touch.

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