Acupuncture has gained increasing recognition as a useful adjunct to modern medicine in animals as well as humans. Under UK law animal acupuncture may only be administered by appropriately qualified veterinary surgeons.
Dietrich Graf von Schweinitz, BSc DVM MRCVS Cert Vet Ac (IVAS) is our visiting acupuncturist and has published several papers on acupuncture including in the peer-reviewed international journal, Acupuncture in Medicine. As past President of the Association of British Veterinary Acupuncturists and former board member of the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, he is actively involved in the practice, promotion and teaching of acupuncture. In 2008, he appeared on Blue Peter to perform acupuncture on Lucy, one of the Blue Peter dogs.
While the traditional theories explaining acupuncture are sometimes expressed in terms of balancing energy in meridians, there is a more medically competent explanation emerging from the research. This involves stimulating the body’s repair mechanisms in the nervous system, immune system, and hormonal and cellular systems.
Acupuncture treatment should first follow an accurate diagnosis and appraisal of all treatment options. In many cases, acupuncture is best used in conjunction with conventional medicine, and in some conditions, it can be used as a sole treatment. It helps minimize the requirements for medications (which may have undesirable side effects). Acupuncture is extremely safe when practised correctly and is well accepted by the majority of animals.
Treatments take about 30 minutes and the number and interval of follow-up treatments varies with the condition; once a week for 2-4 weeks and then wider intervals are common. Most animals accept acupuncture well. Treatment costs are covered by most vet fees insurance policies
What conditions may respond to acupuncture?
Most chronic conditions can be treated, for example:
- Chronic pain from any origin; spinal or nerve damage
- Behavioural problems (often linked to pain)
- Chronic digestive disturbances
- Chronic respiratory disease
- Fatigue syndromes, chronic eye disease
- Heart, liver, and urogenital diseases; incontinence