Our acupuncturists, Dr. Catherine Hageman and Dr. Alanna Monn, are veterinarians with special training and certification in pet acupuncture and have over a decade of experience treating pets using this wonderful, alternative form of therapy.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body that have the ability to alter various neurologic, biochemical and physiologic conditions. There are many ways to stimulate these acupoints, including pressure, needles alone, needles with electrical stimulation and aquapuncture (injection of a medication into an acupuncture point).
How does it work?
Acupuncture has been shown to improve circulation, reduce pain and inflammation, decrease muscle spasm, provide comfort and relaxation through the release of endorphins (the body’s natural morphine) and speed healing by activating critical points along nerve paths in the body. These points are stimulated with either gentle pressure or very tiny needles. No sedation is needed and most animals barely notice the placement of the acupuncture needles, relaxing or even falling asleep after they are in place.
What conditions are treated with acupuncture?
Acupuncture has most commonly been applied as a primary or supplemental treatment for pain in pets, but may be indicated in almost any dysfunction of the body. Some examples of disorders in which acupuncture may help:
- Musculoskeletal and neurologic conditions: osteoarthritis, traumatic injuries, intervertebral disc disease, muscle strain, epilepsy
- Skin and eye: chronic allergies/dermatitis, non-healing wounds, chronic ear infections, dry eye syndrome
- Cardiovascular and respiratory: congestive heart failure, blood pressure disorders, asthma, emergency resuscitation
- Gastrointestinal: inflammatory bowel disease, chronic constipation, nausea, poor appetite or diarrhea
- Urologic: urinary incontinence, feline inappropriate urination, chronic kidney insufficiency
- Endocrine: diabetes, Cushing’s disease
How much does acupuncture cost?
The first visit is $175* and usually lasts about 60 minutes. Our doctor will discuss your pet’s medical history, examine your pet and perform acupuncture therapy. She will also discuss additional ways to relieve your pet’s symptoms. Follow-up visits are $135 per visit and generally last 30-40 minutes.
*additional travel fees may apply
How often and for how long will my pet need to be treated?
The treatment plan varies depending on the condition being treated and the patient’s response to treatment. Pets are often treated once to twice weekly for 3-6 treatments, then every few weeks to months as needed for chronic conditions. Needles are left in place for 5 to 30 minutes at each treatment, and your pet is evaluated for response before and after every visit.
How quickly will my pet respond? Are there any negative side effects?
Response also varies with each patient– some respond positively immediately after the first treatment while others may take 3-6 treatments to respond. Rarely, an individual will not show any noticeable response to acupuncture. Finally, there are some occasions in which a pet seems to deteriorate temporarily after the first acupuncture session before showing improvement — it is believed that this reaction is related to a rebalancing effect of the nervous system.
How will my pet react? Does it hurt?
Most animals barely notice the placement of the acupuncture needles, which are very tiny. Treats or chews are sometimes used to help distract pets during therapy. Once the needles are in place, many pets relax, sometimes even falling asleep!
Why has my veterinarian recommended acupuncture?
Acupuncture may be recommended to help relieve pain, speed healing and / or improve management of many chronic conditions (such as arthritis, heart or kidney disease, diabetes, neurologic disease and constipation). Acupuncture does not replace the therapies your pet may already be receiving but works with them, sometimes reducing the need for certain medications.
Can you tell me more about how acupuncture helps my pet?
It was originally believed that acupuncture was an attempt to influence a mysterious “energy” circulating through invisible channels in the body. We now know that acupuncture affects the central nervous system, leading to the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones that can change circulation, muscle tone, perception of pain and organ function. These changes lead to pain relief, decreased inflammation, decreased muscle spasm, nausea relief, and improved mobility and sense of well-being.
It is important to realize that acupuncture is not a “cure-all” and is typically used in addition to, rather than as a replacement for, “traditional” Western medicine.
Acupuncture services at MN Pets are provided by Dr. Catherine Hageman, and Dr. Alanna Monn.