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What is acupuncture?


Acupuncture is the insertion of small, sterile, stainless steel needles into a patient at precise locations and depths on the body. The insertion of the needles at these points alters the body’s biochemical and physiological properties primarily through the stimulation of the central nervous system. Acupuncture has been utilized in veterinary practice for over 3000 years to treat a variety of animal conditions, and may also be utilized as an adjunct to standard medical/surgical treatments of disease, or as a preventative measure. The American Veterinary Medical Association considers veterinary acupuncture a valid modality within the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery. All animals may benefit from acupuncture.


What kinds of conditions are treated with acupuncture?


Acupuncture is indicated for functional problems that involve pain, non-infectious inflammation (such as arthritis and allergies) and neurologic dysfunctions (such as paralysis).


Common conditions treated in our Bucksport, ME office:


  • Musculoskeletal disorders – joint & muscle pain, arthritis, spine & disc injuries, hip dysplasia, ligament & tendon injuries

  • Neurological disorders – seizures, nerve damage or dysfunction, paralysis, degenerative myelopathy & neuropathies

  • Gastrointestinal disorders – diarrhea, constipation, nausea, inflammatory bowel disease, gastritis, colitis, pancreatitis, appetite

  • Skin disorders – allergies, wound healing, atopy

  • Endocrine - Cushing's, Addison's, diabetes, thryoid

  • Organ Dysfunction - kidney, liver, and heart disease

  • Chronic Diseases - cancers, autoimmune conditions

  • Urogenital disorders - incontinence, chronic UTIs

  • Ocular disorders - keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye)

  • Numerous other disorders have also responded well to treatment with acupuncture


Does acupuncture and holistic veterinary therapies replace conventional Western medicine?


No! Our holistic veterinary therapies, such as acupuncture, are intended to complement conventional veterinary medical treatment. We encourage you to continue your relationship with your primary care vet. This is not a case of either or. Used as an adjunct to conventional treatments, acupuncture and holistic veterinary therapies can speed healing and provide an additional perspective on your pet's health and comfort. Working in coordination with your primary care vet, it is our goal to reduce or eliminate the need for pharmaceutical drugs in your animal's treatment. It is helpful if you or your veterinarian can provide us with a copy of your pet's medical records and x-rays before we begin treatment.


Are you a veterinarian? Does it matter? 


Yes! Only a licensed veterinarian can provide veterinary acupuncture and most holistic veterinary therapies. This means that we are fully trained and skilled in both conventional Western medicine and complementary medical treatments. Your animal companion will receive a conventional Western medical examination as well as being evaluated from a traditional Chinese medical perspective. This means our treatments and therapies are customized to meet your animal companion's specific medical needs. If, in the process of examination or treatment, we determine that your pet would benefit from Western diagnostics or treatments that we don't offer, we will advise that you see your primary care vet for further workup.


Is acupuncture painful?


The insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless, and once they are in place, there should be no pain. The majority of animals of all species tolerate needle placement without any restraint besides normal owner handling. Many animals will appear drowsy or may sleep during the treatment session.


Is acupuncture safe?


The needles utilized during an acupuncture session are very small, sterilized, and of high quality and precision. It is one of the safest therapies if practiced by a certified veterinary acupuncturist who is educated in animal anatomy. Side effects or complications are rare.


How long does each acupuncture treatment take and how long do the effects last?


The length and frequency of each treatment are dependant on the individual animal, the disease being treated, and the response to each treatment. Most treatments take a minimum of 20 minutes and may also include electrical stimulation of the points (electroacupuncture), aquapuncture (injection of a therapeutic drug at the site of an acupuncture point) or heat treatment (moxibustion). A typical patient is treated weekly for 3-4 weeks and then placed on a less frequent maintenance program (every month to 3 months). Animals with more acute and severe disease may be treated more frequently initially.


What can I expect during treatment?


After examination, needles will be put into various parts of the body and moved or stimulated a few times. There is not a set “dose” of acupuncture as there is for medication, so your vet will judge how much to do based on your pet’s response both at the time and after the treatment. They may become sleepy and relaxed during the treatment.


And after the treatment?


It is not uncommon for pets to go home and sleep very soundly for a long time. This is a good sign and shows that your pet will probably respond well to acupuncture. But do not worry if they are not sleepy – this does not mean that they will not respond. Sometimes your pet may seem a little more euphoric than usual; this is also a good sign, but keep them quiet for the rest of the day or they may overdo things. Let us know if your pet is especially stiff or uncomfortable following treatment. Some animals are especially sensitive to acupuncture and may need the treatment modified accordingly on the next visit. Otherwise treat your pet normally after acupuncture. Do not change exercise, diet or medication unless it has been discussed with your vet.


Improvement in clinical signs may occur anytime in the three days after treatment. The signs that we are trying to treat may then return before the next treatment, but this is fine. After each subsequent treatment the effects should last for longer, so that your pet may eventually not need more treatments for some time. Don't worry if you don't notice obvious changes following treatment. This does not mean your pet will not respond. Response varies from patient to patient, depending on the condition and severity. It may be that they will take a little longer or that their improvement after the first treatment was too brief or small for you to see.

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