Can acupuncture help bring joy back in to their life?

What can acupuncture do for your pet?

Vets using acupuncture can ease your pet’s illness where conventional treatments fall short. Examples include hip, knee or elbow arthritis and behavioural issues. It can also be indicated in skin problems such as allergies or lick granuloma, or other problems such as chronic diarrhea. 

Acupuncture may seem new, but many people have been using it with great results for over 5,000 years. Now being integrated with Western medicine, there is increasing evidence showing its extraordinary effects. In fact, many vets will now recommend using acupuncture and most insurers now cover your pet for acupuncture.

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How it works: a holistic approach

cat receiving acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture works in the same way as in people and is just as effective. Treatment is safe and involves placing fine needles in strategic points on the body. Placing the needles is gentle and pain free. In fact, pets often feel so relaxed that they fall asleep during treatment. 

After and during treatment with acupuncture, other therapies can be done to increase the effects. This can be massage of an area that was too painful to touch before placing the needles, or physio/stretching exercises for a limb that was previously too stiff to move. 

Behavioural problems and stress

Acupuncture is also great for behavioural problems. Research shows that acupuncture affects the limbic system, a part of the brain involved in the memory of fear and trauma. In this way, it can help rewire the brain, aiding behavioural therapy.

Organ function and vitality

Acupuncture can also regulate the autonomic nervous system. This improves organ function and restores vitality. Like in humans, many animals appear to have more energy and feel better in themselves after treatment. It is thought that acupuncture can improve intestinal, lung and heart related issues via autonomic nerves.

A natural painkiller


Research shows that acupuncture changes gene expression. It induces the release of locally active painkillers such as adenosine. Acupuncture also reduces pain by releasing the body’s natural opioids such as endorphins and serotonin. These substances, also called “happy hormones”, are extremely potent and natural painkillers.

Neurological repair

Acupuncture, and in particular electro-acupuncture can have great effects on the repair of damaged nerve cells. One example is in Dachshuns with slipped disc. If it is used alongside conventional methods such as surgery or medical management, it can speed up repair of damaged nerve tissue. To find out more about this, click here. 

The truth about chronic pain

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Chronic pain arises due to mechanisms occurring in the nerves, spinal cord and brain. Because acupuncture has an effect on all of these, it is a very potent method for preventing it. The name “chronic pain” is deceptive because it can start as early as 20 minutes after injury and when left too long will become very hard to treat. For this reason, it is key that acupuncture is used in the early stages of your pet’s pain management.

Dr. Rinnert van den Bergh

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