Traditional Chinese medicine has been in practice for over 4000 years, and it is now being utilized more frequency in veterinary medicine. Its strength is that it can help treat medical problems without the harmful side effects that are associated with some of the medications used in Western medicine. However, Chinese medicine cannot fix structural problems such as a broken back or ligament; it can just help the patient cope better with the secondary complications related to the mechanical issue. Also, the identification of pressure points during an acupuncture exam, if used alone, doesn’t yield a medical diagnosis; but can point to an area of the body that is not working properly. Modern medicine identifies the underlying medical problem or diagnosis through the use of the examination, history, and testing such as radiographs, labwork, etc. When used in combination, these two treatment approaches compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and can be used to enhance the natural healing properties of the body, and improve the comfort level and quality of life for your cherished companion.
Dr. Mary Biesiadecki provides acupuncture therapy at our clinic. She completed her acupuncture training and certification through the Chi Institute of Veterinary Acupuncture in Florida. To start acupuncture for your canine or feline; there is an initial 60-minute treatment consultation, during which the patient’s history, medications, and current physical status are discussed and evaluated. A questionnaire completed prior to the initial visit provides important background information. Based on history, physical exam findings, a traditional Chinese medicine evaluation, and possible other diagnostics, a dog or cat's treatment points are identified and a therapy plan is established. During the evaluation, a patient is examined for active points that can be hot or cold on exam; a dog or cat’s pulse quality is also evaluated. Therapy is aimed at increasing the energy or “chi” flow through the body, as needed to stimulate the body's own healing abilities.
Acupuncture uses various needle sizes depending on the size of the patient, and the depth of the focal points. These points are chosen along various meridians or energy paths mapped out in the body by thousands of years of research. The needles are left in place from a few minutes up to 20 minutes. During this time, the client is able to sit with their cherished companion. Most animals handle this very well. For patients that don’t tolerate the needles well, acupuncture or aqua puncture can be performed. In aqua puncture, vitamin B12 or saline is injected into the acupuncture points. This method is especially useful for treating kidney problems. It also helps to stimulate a patient's appetite, and you don't have the 20-minute waiting time. For chronic conditions, weekly treatments are recommended for one to two months, and then the treatment frequency can be decreased depending on the response of the pet. Chinese herbs also can be used in combination with acupuncture.
Dr. Biesiadecki also has the ability to integrate electricity when she feels it can be beneficial. The use of electricity moves more energy along the meridian between the acupuncture points. This can be very helpful in cases of arthritis and certain neurologic problems such as paralysis. The amount of electricity is very low, and is controlled by the acupuncturist. The devise utilized delivers energy at very specific frequencies and modulations. There is no pain or discomfort associated with the use of electroacupuncture; but the patients may feel a tingling sensation initially. Electricity is not recommended for patients with seizures, heart conditions, or patients that are significantly debilitated.
Acupuncture can be used for a variety of ailments including but not limited to orthopedic, muscular, neurologic, renal, hepatic, gastrointestinal, immune, hormonal, and dermatologic problems. There are some important things to keep in mind when considering acupuncture for your pet. Only licensed veterinarians are legally allowed to perform acupuncture on animals. This is also true for other alternative treatments such as chiropractic therapies. In addition, any doctor that is using this treatment modality should have extensive formal training and be certified. Be aware, there are some disease processes, such as with cancer, in which acupuncture may not be recommended. Just like with any medical therapy, the risks and benefits should be discussed with your veterinarian. Ask your veterinarian if acupuncture could benefit your canine or feline. Other helpful websites are the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (ahvma.org) and the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (aava.org).