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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the therapy whereby special solid metal needles are inserted into specific locations in the body (called acupuncture points) to prevent and treat disease. Acupuncture points are arranged in an orderly network of interconnecting meridians, which exist in predictable locations throughout the body. These meridians are connected in a specific order according to how and when the body’s life energy called Qi (chee) or Ki (kee) flows through them.

What is Qi?

In TCM, Qi is the basis for all energy and vital substances interacting with each other to form an organism. It is very difficult to translate or explain the meaning of Qi in western terms, but if one thinks of Einstein’s theory, E=mc2, whereby energy can be transformed to matter and vice versa, one may begin to understand Qi. Qi is in a constant state of flux, moving on a continuum between energy and matter. The gathering and dispersing of Qi is responsible for the infinite variety of phenomena in the universe. In the body itself, all the types of Qi are ultimately one Qi, merely manifesting in different forms. Simply put, Qi is the dynamic motive force in the body and the basis for all energy and matter.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

According to the classical doctrines of Chinese Medicine, there is unceasing flow of life energy, or Qi, through the body. In order to maintain a state of wellness, according to TCM, it is essential that Qi flow in a smooth, harmonious and unobstructed manner. This vital energy originates from the major organs, flows along the continuous circulatory channels (meridians), and passes through other organs, ending or beginning on the extremities. When the energy flow is smooth and in balance, your pet is healthy. If the balance is disturbed, then your pet will feel ill or in pain. Most illnesses and injuries are either caused by or accompanied by disturbances in the flow and balance of Qi. At specific points along the meridians (acupuncture points), the energy flow can be stimulated and the function of related organs can be regulated. Acupuncture point stimulation restores the delicate balance of Qi energy in the body and allows beneficial healing to occur. In fact, according to TCM philosophy, acupuncture is used not only to treat diseases, but also to strengthen the body’s physical condition, to prevent disease and promote health.


Different Types of Acupuncture Treatment

The prime advantage of acupuncture is safety. There are no harmful side effects from the therapy in common practice.
There are several different approaches and methodologies for treating animals with acupuncture. Instead of inserting fine sterile metallic needles into acupuncture points, there are occasions when heat, in the form of moxibustion, may be more appropriate. Low voltage electricity (electroacupuncture) also has particular applications. The use of light as in the case of lasers can be very effective. In the case of aquapuncture, a small volume of sterile liquid, such as vitamin B12, is injected into the acupuncture points, particularly when a period of prolonged stimulation is necessary.


It is not unusual to use acupuncture in conjunction with other therapies and methods of supportive care. It can be used simultaneously with many traditional Western therapies. It is especially useful in bridging the gap between medicine and surgery. In addition, it is compatible with many non-traditional and holistic approaches to veterinary care such as chiropractic.

What Illnesses Respond to Acupuncture?

Veterinary acupuncture can be used to treat a wide array of conditions such as arthritis, neurologic disorders, reproductive disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, paralysis, and muscle injuries. It is also frequently used as a maintenance procedure for healthy, athletic animals used in performance competition events. Many Thoroughbred racehorses, for example, receive regular visits from their veterinarian for acupuncture treatment.

Veterinary acupuncturists develop and implement treatment plans based on the individual animal’s needs. The acupuncturist must determine the frequency of treatment as well as the anatomical points that must be stimulated to correct the problem. Most treatment plans for acute problems involve more frequent treatments in the initial stages and taper off over a period of a few weeks.

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