Hey Everyone! For those of you that don’t know me, I am Dr. Kimberly Couch, the newest associate at East-West Animal Hospital. I recently graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine (Go Gators!) and have been getting to know all your amazing pets since I started at EWAH this past June!
This blog post is about something that is extremely near and dear to my heart – Veterinary Acupuncture. While you may not even be aware that such a thing exists, we can do acupuncture on dogs, cat, and even bunnies!
I have long been fascinated with the integration of natural medicine into both my life and practice even before I began attending vet school. I carried that passion through school and made a point to educate myself as much as possible about “holistic” or Eastern medicine and how to integrate into general/traditional/Western medicine. I strongly believe that by using the two medical practices in harmony with one another allows for the most optimal and inclusive treatment plan for my patients. This comprehensive approach allows me to draw on a wealth of medical knowledge from around the globe.
So, what exactly is Acupuncture?
The simple answer is that acupuncture is the process of inserting multiple small needles into various pre-determined “points” on the body. The practice of acupuncture has been used for humans and large farm animals (cows, pigs, and horses) for well over 2,000 years. Within the last 60 years veterinarians have had immense success providing acupuncture treatments to household pets and as a result the treatment has exploded in popularity.
In general, the Chinese theory of acupuncture is based around the presence of energy flow patterns all throughout the body. Disruptions of this flow of energy can cause health imbalances and diseases. Acupuncture involves the strategic selection of points along the body which are stimulated by fine needle penetration of the skin and/ or by electrical stimulation or fluid injection. Insertion of a needle into an acupuncture point stimulates the nearby vessels, nerves, and/or lymphatics for a pre-determined time to generate its effects.
The body is made up of a complex network of interconnecting nerve fibers, so placing an acupuncture needle into any particular location not only treats that specific location but also allows the effects to stretch beyond the point of insertion and throughout the body system as a whole. Biologically, the activation of these acupuncture sites also releases endorphins, anti-inflammatory mediators, and hormones- all of which can assist with recovery and healing.
At EWAH we use acupuncture for a variety of reasons, however, we use it most commonly to treat arthritis, intervertebral disc disease, seizures, to assist recovery from surgeries, and to treat many chronic/ refractory conditions.
What does a TCVM visit entail?
Acupuncture is only a small part of a much larger traditional Chinese Veterinary medicine (TCVM) practice that we incorporate at EWAH. TCVM includes acupuncture, Chinese herbs, food therapy, and tui-na (massage).
The TCVM exam is far more in depth than a standard veterinary visit and may take longer than usual. We thoroughly examine the components of your pet’s heart, pulse, tongue color, and ask specific questions about your pet to identify unique features within your pet in order to make a Chinese pattern diagnosis. The information gathered at TCVM visits allows us to develop a treatment plan that is specifically designed to treat your pet’s unique pattern. We may also recommend herbal formulas and additional modalities to complement and enhance the acupuncture treatments.
Each acupuncture appointment generally lasts about an hour in duration- which includes the physical exam, questions, and treatment. The actual acupuncture treatments can range from 10-20 minutes however, the exact amount of time is both unique to the patient and depends on the condition being treated.
The number of treatments required depends entirely on the condition we are treating your pet for, as well as your pet’s response to the treatment itself.
For acute diseases, one or two sessions may be necessary; For chronic diseases, patients may require lifelong treatment once a week- once a month. For chronic conditions, we usually recommend 3-5 treatments a week apart to start with treatment further spaced apart as your pet improves.
Any questions reach out! firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 813-948-6534.