About Acupuncture | Acupuncture For Pets

Acupuncture For Pets

Dr Liz Fernandez DVM, CVA

    What is veterinary acupuncture?

    This balance is maintained through the flow of energy between and within these areas. This energy is known as qi, pronounced "chi."
    The Chinese discovered that this qi flows along pathways from the outside of the body (the skin) to the internal parts of the body. If these pathways are stimulated through acupuncture, the flow of energy can be stimulated. Problems arise when there is either not enough energy, deficiencies, at a particular point or if there is a blockage of energy, excess, at a certain point.

    Acupuncture is a health care system that focuses more on prevention than our present-day western health care system. Along with food therapy, exercise and herbal supplements, acupuncture is one aspect of the ancient art of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), and has been used in China for over 3000 years. Other aspects of TCVM include herbal medicine and Tui-na, which is Chinese massage.
    The Chinese believe that everything (people, animals, plants, the earth, the sky) is CONNECTED. They also believe that all the connections have an innate balance between them. The day is balanced with the night, hot with cold, male with female, Yin with Yang (pronounced yahng).
    Health, then, is a reflection of balance between all parts of the body, mind and spirit. Illness manifests itself when there is an imbalance between body, mind and/or spirit.

    Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine can be used to maintain and promote balance in healthy individuals, as well as to treat a wide variety of conditions. These conditions include, but are not limited to:
    • hip dysplasia/ chronic arthritic conditions
    • acute muscle, tendon and bone injuries (often best used in conjunction with western modalities)
    • pre- and post-operative pain management
    • spinal cord trauma including paresis (weakness) and paralysis
    • control nausea in cancer patients to improve appetite and boost the immune system
    • gastrointestinal disorders: vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and inflammatory bowel disease
    • kidney disease
    • urinary incontInence and retention
    • respiratory disorders: upper respiratory infections, chronic bronchitis, and asthma
    • seizures
    • separation anxiety
    • skin conditions
    • disorders of the immune system
    • liver disease
    • heart disease
    • endocrine disorders including thyroid disorders
    • geriatric patient management to improve the general quality of life
    Often times the best treatment is a combination of Western and Eastern approaches.I welcome working with your regular veterinarian to provide an integrated approach to your pet’s health.

    Click on each of the links below to learn more about each treatment.

    Electrical stimulation between points to enhance the effect. It is especially useful in musuloskeletal and spinal problems.
    I use an infrared laser to stimulate the acupuncture points. It is painless and effective.
    The use of an herb that is used to warm the body surface (it does not make contact with the body).
    The simple use of manual pressure on a point instead of using a needle.
    Allowing a few drops of blood to be released from a point. This is used when there is excess heat in the body.
    An injection of saline-diluted Vitamin B12 in an acupuncture point. This is used when there is excess heat in the body.
    The Chinese equivelent of physical therapy, chiropractic, and massagetherapy. The beauty is that I can teach you these techniques so you can apply them daily.
    Used extensively in China to reestablish the balance within the body. In China, herbs are more widely used than acupuncture. Unlike acupuncture, which is extremely safe, the use of herbs requires more expertise.

    I recommend only high quality formulas. Some are specifically formulated for our animal friends. Some are classical formulas that have been used by people and animals for thousands of years.

    It is difficult to overdose an animal with acupuncture or even give a treatment that is detrimental because many acupuncture points can help in both excess and deficient conditions. That is not the case with herbs—one herbal formula is used for excess and a different one for deficiencies. The beauty of herbal formulas is that there is continuous rebalancing of flow because the herbs are in the system all the time. This enhances the effect of the acupuncture treatments and may make the need for them less frequent.
    The Chinese believe food can be used as a major form of therapy in many instances, especially to promote health. Each individual has different needs based on their age, constitution and any underlying challenges.

    Patient undergoing Electro Acupuncture

    I do offer treatments in my home IF your friend is comfortable traveling , is not upset in unusual surroundings, does not have any contagious diseases or parasite infestations.
    On my first visit, I begin by asking a series of detailed questions. These questions may be repeated periodically because the answers may change over time. If your friend has a specific medical challenge, I would greatly appreciate having access to all medical records that are available, including lab results, x-rays, patient records, any known allergies, vaccine history, current and past medications, flea control products, and heartworm/parasite control medications.

    Next, I examine my patient. This examination is repeated as needed on future visits. Based on the results of the patient's history and exam, I design a treatment plan. It is vital that you, the client, provide input into the development of this plan and feel comfortable with the plan.

    Each treatment lasts between 10-30 minutes. I usually use anywhere from 3 –30 needles per treatment. If I use moxa, hemoacupuncture, aquapuncture, electroacupuncture or laserpuncture. I will explain those in greater detail at that time. There is not difference in cost for these modalities.

    The response of my patients to the needles varies from complete acceptance to complete rejection. Over 90% will tolerate the needles to the extent that they are effective. There are other acupuncture techniques that I use when my patients are less than cooperative, such as aquapuncture, moxa and laser. In addition to the acupuncture, I may suggest using an herbal supplement. It is important to understand that Chinese herbal supplements are typically combinations of herbs, and as such are very well tolerated.

    Some acute problems respond within 1 to 4 treatments, some may require more frequent or more total treatments to see resolution. Some chronic conditions may require at least 4 treatments before any response is seen at all. Remember, however, I will be treating the WHOLE patient, NOT just one symptom. In Chinese medicine, it is believed that an underlying weakness may be the reason behind an acute problem. If I detect such a weakness from the history or physical exam, I will explain and treat this as well.

    Most of my patients they prefer to be petted and remain quiet once the needles are placed. Many like a focus of human energy on them. A few prefer a little less focus on them. The patients are very clear as to their preferences. I take my cues from them. Often times I may included energy work during the treatment.

    From my own experience with acupuncture, I found it a wonderful time to meditate. I suspect this facilitates healing, and the innate intelligence within the patient knows this and this is why they prefer the quiet. It has been said that you cannot help another and not also help yourself at the same time. I believe this and know that I am blessed by each of my patients in ways that continue to astound and humble me.

    Finally, I may make recommendations regarding diet and acupressure or massage type exercises you can continue between treatments.

    Most of my patients and their people like the idea that I come to visit them in their home. They tell me they feel far more comfortable at home. I also prefer home visits, for a couple of reasons:

    • First, my patients are more relaxed.
    • Second, I am able to totally focus on my patient and their people for the entire time I am present.
    • Third, it allows me to maintain a more balanced, steady pace, which also enables me to help my patients more effectively.