Veterinary Acupuncture – a History of Helping Pets Heal
Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response. A technique used in China for thousands of years, veterinary acupuncture was pioneered in the U.S. in 1974-75 by a group of veterinarians who formed the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS).
Acupuncture is used today in healing and therapy for a variety of conditions including osteoarthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, inflammation, and cancer pain. The use of acupuncture is increasing in popularity as a treatment for both humans and animals across the world. Though acupuncture cannot cure every condition, it can provide positive results. Acupuncture increases circulation and can release the body’s painkilling endorphins. It can also relieve muscle spasms and stimulate the immune system.
Safety of Acupuncture for Pets
- Acupuncture for pets is safe when indicated and when practiced by a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA) who is also Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), like Dr. Derek Paul at Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies. Dr. Paul, DVM, CVA (IVAS), is also our Associate Medical Director of Emergency Services, and leads our team of stellar emergency room doctors. Your pet will be in good hands during their acupuncture session at our Castle Rock, Colorado veterinary hospital.
Veterinary acupuncture is non-invasive and drug-free. It can promote overall health and wellness and is usually painless for pets when needles are inserted. Many pets find acupuncture relaxing and may even fall asleep during their treatment.
Conditions Indicated for Veterinary Acupuncture Treatment
Veterinary acupuncture is used to treat acute conditions including:
- Post-operative pain and mobility
- Post-chemotherapy nausea and loss of appetite during cancer treatment
- Torn ligaments and soft tissue injuries, which may be shown using diagnostic imaging
It can also be used to treat chronic conditions including:
- Immune support
- Hip dysplasia
- Intervertebral disc disease
- Incontinence and kidney disease
- Decreased muscle tone and strength
Working with Your Family Veterinarian and Our Specialists
Acupuncture is just one part of a holistic treatment approach to your pet’s health and wellness. Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies is pleased to work in partnership with your family vet on your pet’s care plan. Before assessing your pet’s health and before acupuncture can begin, Dr. Paul will request your pet’s health records from your family veterinarian to understand all existing conditions. Veterinary acupuncture can work well to improve pain and mobility, though Dr. Paul will also check for underlying injuries and illness. Along with his own extensive veterinary medical and acupuncture experience, Dr. Paul has access to additional resources and consultation from our experienced veterinary specialists in internal medicine, oncology, surgery, cardiology, and diagnostic imaging.
What to Expect During a Veterinary Acupuncture Treatment Session
An initial veterinary acupuncture consultation and treatment session with Dr. Paul will take about an hour. He will also develop a treatment plan for your pet, including a proposed number of visits and a timeline of anticipated relief of symptoms. Follow-up treatments take approximately 30 minutes. For acupuncture to be effective, needles need to be inserted and remain in place for a specific amount of time (15 minutes, for example). Dr. Paul will share what you and your pet can expect before treatment begins, and then he’ll provide any treats and toys needed to keep your pet distracted, safe, and relaxed throughout their treatment.
Veterinary Acupuncture Results and Timing
The results of veterinary acupuncture may vary, along with the length of time it takes for pets to experience potential benefits. Effectiveness of acupuncture can depend on how severe or debilitating a pet’s physical condition is when acupuncture begins, and results are not guaranteed. Acute conditions like muscle strains and sprains may respond quickly to treatment with acupuncture. Other chronic conditions like osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia will likely take longer to reflect adequate results or may show varying improvement with acupuncture.
Dr. Derek Paul, DVM, CVA (IVAS) is the Associate Director (ER) and Veterinary Acupuncturist for Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies. He is an Illinois native who left the land of Lincoln to serve his country. After graduating With Merit as a Systems Engineer from the United States Naval Academy, he served six years in the Navy, including tours on board an aircraft carrier and inside of Cheyenne Mountain working for NORAD. He received the Joint Service Achievement Medal for his service as NORAD Air Battle Management Officer during the attacks of September 11, 2001. Following Naval Service, Doctor Paul returned to Illinois for Veterinary School, where he concentrated on Wildlife and Conservation Medicine and ran the Wildlife Medical Clinic. After graduation, he returned to Colorado for an Internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery. For the past 10 years, Doctor Paul has served as a Senior Emergency Associate, Locum Emergency and General Practice Relief Doctor, and Veterinary Acupuncturist. He also does consulting work for a pet services company. When he is not helping make Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies the premier emergency/specialty hospital in the Front Range, he enjoys hiking, traveling, paddleboarding, playing poker, listening to music, and seeing shows and movies with his family. He is married to JoAnn, an experienced Veterinary Technician, and they have two kids, Ella and Gavin.