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On Pins & Needles: Acupuncture for Animals?

Acupuncture is an ancient art and science of gently placing very thin needles into the skin and muscles of a patient to try to stimulate nerve fibers to re-­regulate themselves and send correct messages. When these thin needles are placed in precise points along the body, they can help tight muscle fibers (trigger points) relax. They can stimulate nerves that are not firing correctly to fire as they should. They can calm overactive nerves. They can stimulate nerves to send the body’s own pain fighting chemicals to a sore or painful area of the body.


Most of us recognize that acupuncture can help people, but can it help animals? In fact, yes it can.


Acupuncture can help animals with arthritic conditions such as back and knee and hip pain. Acupuncture can help animals that are obese to move more and feel better so that they can lose weight. Acupuncture can help animals that stumble, slip, and fall become more aware of their own bodies so that they are less likely to injure themselves. Acupuncture can help some animals with intestinal problems. Acupuncture can help some animals with allergies. Dogs, cats, rabbits, and yes, even chickens can benefit from acupuncture.


At their first appointment, some dogs and cats and rabbits are nervous, but with gentle voices and snacks, many animals allow these very thin acupuncture needles to be placed in their skin and muscles. Dogs and cats usually learn very quickly that their acupuncture appointments make them feel better. Within 3 to 4 visits, most animals are happier, moving better, and are feeling the benefits of treatment. Soon, they run into their carriers or eagerly get into the car for their visits! Ask your veterinarian if acupuncture could help your pet!


 – Nancy Bureau, DVM, Left Hand Animal Hospital

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