Acupuncture for Pets

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We are pleased to announce we are now able to offer acupuncture at Mark Nelson Vets! Carry on reading if you wish to know more about this subject.


What is acupuncture used for?


It's generally used for chronic pain conditions such as arthritis and muscle pain but it does have other uses, including aiding wound healing and helping functional conditions such as megacolon and blocked bladders in cats.

We mainly use acupuncture in dogs and cats, however rabbits and other small furries are normally very good responders too.

It is important to note that it is not a replacement for medications but is a very useful tool in conjunction with medications initially and it does mean we can at least reduce doses of other medications


How does acupuncture work?


It works on the nervous system as the needles block the pain messages and encourage production of endorphins (happy hormones!). In conditions that are not themselves painful, e.g. megacolon in cats, the acupuncture can help to normalise function - a bit like resetting a computer.


Is acupuncture safe?


Yes - as long as it is used in the correct hands it is incredibly safe for your pet. There are a small number of conditions that mean acupuncture may not be suitable but this is uncommon so please don’t hesitate to ask.


Will acupuncture hurt my pet?


No - the needles used are very fine, much smaller than the ones we usually use for injections. You pet may feel a very slight scratch when the needle is put in but normally they are too interested in the treats to notice! 

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Here you can see Bobby starting to relax during his acupuncture for stifle (knee) arthritis and secondary back pain. The purple bits you can see are the needles.

We are pleased to report Bobby is doing well and even trotted into the consult room this week.



What can I expect to happen during a treatment?


Most pets relax during the treatment and start to look a bit sleepy or get a runny nose! Don’t worry if you don’t see this - they are all different! Like people, most pets will respond well to acupuncture, however a handful won’t - we need to monitor the response over 4 weeks before saying they are not a responder.


What can I expect after a treatment?


One of three things:

  • The majority will show an improvement at some point in the first three days post treatment, that may or may not be sustained until the second treatment. They will often go home and have a nice relaxing snooze. 
  • A slight worsening of signs for a day or two, followed by an improvement. This shows they are a good responder, just that we perhaps need to use less stimulus next time. 
  • No response - this is in the minority but we have to do four treatments at weekly intervals before we can say your pet is definitely not a responder.


How often will my pet need acupuncture?


This varies on the pet and the condition. However, we will see most cases once a week for the first four weeks and then decide on the interval based on your pet’s response.


Will my pet need to be sedated for treatment?


Not usually - most are very tolerant and indeed enjoy the treatment - they will often relax during the treatment and then go home and have a nice snooze. 

Occasionally we need to sedate, for example, these photos are of Marc, a feral cat with a nasty wound that wasn't healing despite various medications.  After a few weeks of sedation for acupuncture and laser treatment followed by electroacupuncture and laser treatment, his wound has completely healed. 


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If you have any questions about acupuncture and whether your pet could benefit from it, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the surgery and ask to book an appointment or to speak to Laura. Please mention that the appointment is regarding acupuncture so we are able to book a double appointment slot in the diary so ensure enough time for your pet. This service is available at both clinics. Also, if you can leave questions or comments on our Facebook page by clicking HERE

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