Acupuncture has been used in animals for one thousand years. The origins go back to ancient Chinese times and are recorded in Chinese history. Veterinary acupuncture is closely related to human acupuncture. The first written veterinary text is Bai Le's Canon of veterinary medicine (Bai Le Zheng Jing) in 650 B.C. Most early books related to horses but there are also text and charts on cattle, pigs, camels, chicken, ducks, geese, sheep and goats. Most information about dog and cats is transposed from human texts.

How does it work?

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), when an animal is healthy there is a circulation of energy, life force or "chi" along well defined channels on the skin called meridians. The meridians are connected with internal organs, muscles and joint structures and the nervous system. Acupuncture points, which lie on the meridians, are areas of the skin at which the flow of chi can be influenced. In disease states, there is an imbalance or interference with the flow of energy. TCM looks at a pattern of disharmony and uses the body's own ability to repair itself. The acupuncturist can manipulate the energy flow by stimulating the Acupuncture points and thus rectifying the disruption of balance. Not all skin problems are allergies of course. We will work hard to solve any problem that relates to the skin. Many dogs develop lumps and bumps on or under their skin. Therefore, it is common for us to determine what type of growth it is by examining a sample of cells taken from the growth by needle (Fine Needle Aspirate, FNA). This is the only way one can be certain that a growth is not a serious problem.

The effects on the body are:

> Sedation: release of dopamine in the brain and relieve of pain.

> Homeostasis: effects on the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system (effects on respiration, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, metabolic rate, sweating and electrolyte imbalance).

> Immune system: it affects the reticulo-endothelial system increasing the white blood cell count and increasing interferon levels.

> Psychological: it causes opiate release and regulates the metabolism of other neurotransmitters like serotonin, noradrenalin and acetylcholine. It alters brain potentials in an EEG.

> Motor recovery: in nerve paralysis it stimulates the     regeneration of anterior horn cells in the spinal cord.

How the patient reacts

In certain body areas there is occasionally a brief moment of sensitivity as the needle is placed. However, once the needles are in position, most animals relax or even fall asleep! After the acupuncture session, there may be no obvious changes of symptoms but the animal will seem brighter. Alternatively, symptoms improve for 24-48 hours then get worse again or are worse for 24-48 hours and then improve.

Treatment duration

Each therapy session generally last for around 30-40minutes but this may be longer or shorter depending on the animal and the condition. Patients are often treated once or twice a week for 4-6 weeks – again depending on the animal and the condition.

Possible problems during acupuncture

Bending of the needles can occur if the animal moves, Breaking of needles is very rare, Haematoma or mild bleeding at the insertion site, Injuries of vital organs - if the practioner is not familiar with the animal anatomy.

Conditions that can be treated include:

Musculoskeletal problems
> Arthritis
> Hip Dysplasia
> Intervertebral disc disease ('slipped disc')
> Muscular strains and spasms
> Ligament damage

Skin diseases
> Allergies
> Dermatitis (eczema)
> "Lick granulomas"

Chronic respiratory disease
> Feline Asthma
> Bronchitis
> Sinusitis
> Various types of chronic cough
> Can help relieve the symptoms of cardiac disease

Gastrointestinal disorders
> Chronic digestive disorders (diarrhoea and vomiting)
> Chronic gut motility problems (constipation)

Neurological disorder
> Epilepsy
> Certain types of nerve injury
> Certain types of paralysis

Reproductive disorders
> Some forms of infertility may be relieved

Urinary tract problems
> Chronic cystitis
> Incontinence in bitches

Immune system problems
> Suppressed  immune  system  due  to  viral  infection or cancer (e.g. chemotherapy)
> Stomatitis, Gingivitis in cats