Veterinary Acupuncture FAQ & Video


What is acupuncture and how does it work?

Veterinary acupuncture is documented to exist for over 2,000 years.  It is the penetration of the skin surface with very small needles.  Most pets tolerate the needles very well.  The needles are strategically placed in special places called acupuncture points.  These points have been identified along energy flow lines called meridians in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.  Acupuncture points are concentrated with free nerve endings, blood vessels, lymphatics, mast cells, and have a strong ability to conduct electrical current.  

There are different types of acupuncture including dry needle technique, aquapuncture, moxibustion, electrical acupuncture, and laser acupuncture.  

How do I know if my pet will benefit from veterinary acupuncture?

Veterinary Acupuncture can be used to treat an extensive list of clinical conditions and illnesses.  It is most commonly used for pain relief, stimulating nerves for healing, immune system regulation, reproductive regulation, gastrointestinal disease, improving circulation, inflammation within the body, anxiety, performance enhancement in performance animals, and so many other conditions.

Examples of common conditions treated with acupuncture: arthritis, joint pain/ligament damage, herniated discs/spinal cord compression, rehabilitation after surgery, lameness, anxiety or aggressive behaviors, heart disease, renal disease, skin allergies, and infertility.    

Acupuncture isn't for every pet.  A small percentage of pets do not tolerate acupuncture needles well.  If this is the case for your pet, we can still try herbal therapy for treatment options.  

How much does veterinary acupuncture cost for my pet?

The initial in-hospital consultation including a western medicine physical exam, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine exam, and initial acupuncture treatments start at $130.  In-hospital follow-up appointments with acupuncture treatments start at $65 per visit, but can be more depending on the modalities you select for your pet.  Some owners ask why veterinary acupuncture can be more costly than human acupuncture.  The answer to this question is veterinary acupuncture is performed by a licensed veterinarian with specialized training.  This would be similar to a human MD performing acupuncture on his/her patients to help treat clinical disease.   

What are Chinese herbs and how do they enhance my pet's treatment plan?

Chinese herbal therapy has existed for over 4,000 years and is still widely used in eastern medicine.  It is a very effective addition to veterinary acupuncture for a well-rounded treatment for your pet's illness.  Herbal formulas come in oral powders mixed in with your pet's food, capsules, biscuits, and topical forms applied to the skin.  They can take hours-weeks to begin working; they are typically used for several weeks-months as needed.  Chinese herbal therapies should only be prescribed by a licensed veterinarian and educated Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine practitioner.   

What services are offered for pet hospice care?

Pet hospice care is a great option for terminally-ill and debilitated animals.  We can offer your pet subcutaneous fluids (SQ fluids), pain medication, acupuncture, herbal therapies, injectable B-vitamins for energy, and assist you with any medications prescribed by your family veterinarian that your pet needs administered.  

Examples of common cases where hospice care can be very useful: feline patients with renal disease that need fluid therapy 1-2 times per week, animals who do not drink and eat well, very painful pets, lethargic pets, animals who become anxious to travel to a vet clinic, owners who are unable to bring their pet to the vet clinic, etc. 

How do I know if my pet is ready to be euthanized? What happens during a pet euthanasia?

Let me first state that pet euthanasia is a gift of kindness in my opinion.  Pet owners always ask me when it is the right time to let go of their beloved pet.  I always tell them "You will look into their eyes, and you will know when it is time."  I stand behind this advice and find that time and time again, it is true.  Important factors that should also be considered for your pet's quality of life: appetite, water consumption, energy level, is the pet able to walk, is the pet able to enjoy the things he/she loves most, and most importantly does the pet seem happy.  In my professional opinion, I always feel it is best to let go of a beloved pet when they still have their dignity.  Again, letting them go with grace is a gift.  They know you love them; you love them so much you can choose to take away their pain and suffering.  

Pet Euthanasia is generally very peaceful.  I offer in office or home pet euthanasia, which means I can come to your home where your pet and family members are most comfortable. This is a great option for pet euthanasia to decrease stress on the pet and the family.  I typically sedate them with a mild pain medication so they are comfortable in their final minutes.  Once they are relaxed, I may or may not attempt to place an IV catheter to administer the remainder of the medications.  After the pet has passed owners can choose between home burial or having their pet cremated.  I offer a variety of packages for pet cremation and will review them with you.  The ashes will be returned to you within 7-14 days.  

Video - Pet Acupuncture

Dr. Armstrong discussing veterinary acupuncture