8009 Gunn Highway
Tampa, FL 33626

Tel. 813 920-0566
Fax. 813 920-0549

What is acupuncture?

Chinese medical philosophy, often called Traditional Chinese Medicine or just TCM (TCVM for veterinary medicine), is based on the belief that there is an energy which flows through all living creatures called Qi. This energy circulates through the body from organ to organ in channels, also called meridians. Meridians can be thought of as rivers, carrying energy from organ to organ. These rivers can become blocked like a dam, and needling releases the obstruction. In TCVM, disease is considered to be a result of an imbalance of energy in the body. Acupuncture is believed to balance this energy, or release the obstruction in the dam, and thereby assist the body to heal disease and maintain or restore health.

Acupuncture is among the oldest medical procedures in recorded history, while animal acupuncture is slightly less ancient. The original theories of TCM formed the basis of acupuncture – placing needles in certain spots on the body to regulate the flow of Qi (energy), which flowed through and nourished the tissues and organs. Today, we do not have a complete understanding of the neurologic or biochemical basis of acupuncture, but that is changing as the results of studies are published on a regular basis. Researchers have found that acupoints are located in areas with higher densities in free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles, and lymphatics. Stimulation of an acupoint results in the release of beta-endorphins, serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Acupuncture for pain relief is well supported by such studies. Continued release of published research will allow for us to learn more about the applications of acupuncture in other disease processes.

How does acupuncture work?

From a conventional or western medicine perspective, acupuncture can be described as a means of assisting the body to heal itself by affecting certain physiological changes. Acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, stimulate the immune system, relieve muscle spasm, release hormones such as endorphins (the body’s own pain control chemicals) and cortisol (the body’s natural steroid).

How is acupuncture performed?

There are different types of acupuncture. “Dry needle” acupuncture involves the insertion of a needle at an acupoint. The needle is thin, solid, sharp, and sterile. “Aqua-acupuncture “ involves the injection of a liquid at the site of an acupoint with a very thin, sterile needle and syringe. This fluid may be sterile saline, vitamin B.12, pain medicine, or even a tranquilizer. By injecting a fluid at the acupuncture site, the fluid provides stimulation of that acupuncture point until the fluid is absorbed by the body. “Electro acupuncture “’is another type of acupuncture. It involves the use of a mild electric current passed through needles. Regardless of the acupuncture tools that are used, the goal remains the same: to always restore normal flow of energy.

When should someone consider acupuncture for their pet?

Acupuncture is known to have good therapeutic effect in a wide variety of animal diseases. Pain modification is an important application of veterinary acupuncture, but there are much wider applications. Examples of clinical conditions where veterinary acupuncture may be used are:

  • Gastrointestinal disorders- gastritis, enteritis, colitis, vomiting, rectal prolapse, megacolon, constipation
  • Respiratory problems- rhinitis, asthma, chronic cough, epistaxis (nose bleeds)
  • Neurological disorders- epilepsy/seizure disorder, chronic pain, pinched nerves cranial nerve disorder, degenerative myelopathy, laryngeal paralysis,l
  • Urinary disorders- incontinence, cystitis
  • Musculoskeletal disorders- chronic degenerative joint disease, disc disease, hip dysplasia, tendonitis, muscle spasms
  • Dermatological problems- chronic skin disease (recurrent/chronic ear infection, skin infections), lick granulomas, allergic dermatitis
  • Behavioral disorder – anxiety (separation, noise phobia, etc.)
  • Oncology/cancer treatment – improve quality of life, treat side effects of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, treat pain, etc..
  • Others: Kidney disease, Liver disease, diabetes mellitus, thyroid disorders

These are just a sampling of how acupuncture can benefit veterinary patients.

Will my pet experience discomfort during accupuncture treatment?

Most pets will remain very comfortable, almost sleepy, during their treatments.

The insertion of acupuncture needles is associated with minimal pain. The needles used are very small and individually sterilized. Once the needles pass through the skin there is usually no pain. Many animals become very relaxed and may, in fact, fall asleep. Acupuncture treatment may cause some sensation such as those experienced in humans such as tingles, or numbness which may be uncomfortable to some animals. If a needle is bothering your pet, it will be removed. The beauty of acupuncture is that we have many alternative points that can be selected from for any given condition if one or more points is not accessible.

When do I expect to see results for my pet that has had acupuncture?

Response time can vary from patient to patient. In many cases improvement will be seen with a single treatment. Generally, three treatments are recommended to fully assess your pet for a response to treatment.

Once a maximum response is achieved (usually after 4-8 treatments) treatments are tapered so the greatest amount of symptom-free time elapses between them. Many animals with chronic conditions can taper off to 2-4 treatments per year.

How often should the treatment be done? For how long?

The length and frequency of treatments depends on the problem and condition of the patient. Stimulation of an individual acupuncture point maybe for as little as 10 seconds or as long as 20 minutes. Generally acute problems require less time and frequency of treatment. For example an acute sprain may require only one treatment, whereas more severe or chronic ailments may need several or several dozen treatments.

What will happen during acupuncture treatments?

Your pets’ first session will be a bit longer as we will not only need to perform the appropriate Eastern and Western Medicine examinations, but will also obtain a thorough history about your pets’ health and background. Any blood work, radiographs, etc., that have been performed will be reviewed at that time. A complete physical exam, including a TCVM exam will be performed. If necessary, full orthopedic and neurological evaluations will be made.’’

If your pet has a favorite bed or blanket, you are welcome to bring it. We want the session to be as relaxing as possible for your pet. We will talk briefly at the beginning of each subsequent session about any concerns/questions about your pet. After a quick assessment of tongue color, pulse quality and character, acupuncture will begin.

A “point prescription“ is created for each patient, which is a list of acupuncture points to use for a patient. Acupuncture needles are very thin, solid, sterile needles. Needle insertion is usually not painful, however, certain points can be sensitive. Multiple acupuncture needles will be placed depending on the point prescription. Acupuncture treatments are usually well tolerated by animals. Some animals will become very quiet and even fall asleep during a treatment. Treatment time will vary depending on the animal, the acupuncture technique and the condition being treated. Acupuncture effects are cumulative so several treatments are usually necessary for chronic medical conditions. Once we have achieved an improved state then increasing the interval between appointments for maintenance is recommended. Acute conditions usually need fewer treatments.

Are there any side effects?

Acupuncture can result in a relaxed state, which can be misinterpreted as lethargy or a worsening condition. This is temporary and indicates that the animal is indeed sensitive to the effects of acupuncture. Your veterinarian will adjust the treatment, if needed, at your next visit. Acupuncture needles are sterilized, so infection from the needle site is extremely rare. Any concerns that you have about the treatment should be discussed with your veterinarian.


What Our Customers Are Saying

Bailey is a 14 year old mixed breed who has lived only having one functional back leg for most of his life. He has always gotten around very well but over the past year started experiencing some pain and difficulty walking. It started out with him not being able to climb our stairs and then developed into him having difficulty getting up from a laying position as well as having difficulty laying down in a smooth motion. He has always been a more anxious dog but with this pain, his level of anxiety also escalated. He would often bark at us continuously for no apparent reason. He began having accidents in the house too, and we were cleaning up urine multiple times a day – it may have been partially because there are stairs leading to the outside and this may have been too much effort or too painful for him. We attempted laser treatment which did help some, but he was still demonstrating many of the mentioned symptoms. We had tried many different measures including putting him on an increased dosage of anti-anxiety medicine as well as a pain reliever and sedative – this was the only way we could calm him down some. Based on having exhausted many efforts, Dr. Saleh suggested that we consider trying acupuncture as it had helped with some more difficult cases such as ours. At that point, I would have tried anything since we were contemplating other more definitive measures.
The change in Bailey’s condition over time has been remarkable. Each session we saw continued improvement and there was a notable improvement even after the first session. Dr. Allen said that with each session, he relaxed more during the treatment and became more comfortable with the therapy. He stopped having accidents in the house, has had much less pain in his hind quarters, and calmed down. We have been able to discontinue both the sedative and the pain medication. It has helped Bailey tremendously and in the days immediately after a treatment he is like another dog. I had never really considered acupuncture in the past, but at the time was desperate for any improvement – I am so glad that we decided to pursue acupuncture as it has really improved the quality or his (and our) lives.

When Dr. Allen suggested acupuncture to us, we were at the point where we were ready to try just about anything. She gave him approx. a dozen treatments over several month’s time. During that time, his stools returned to normal, his protein level went up, and he calmed down a lot. We still can’t get him to stay home alone, but it noticeably improved the other problems. In fact, Dr. Allen called me one day to say how he was a completely different dog from the time she had first started treating him.

If anybody had told me we’d be getting acupuncture for our dog, we’d have thought they were crazy, but we have become believers. It has definitely been beneficial for him!

EAH performed acupuncture on my dog following surgery to relieve her discomfort of joint and muscle deterioration. While we knew she was on borrowed time at best, the acupuncture, in combination with physical therapy / rehab exercises gave her mobility she would not otherwise have had.