Concord Animal Hospital is excited to announce an addition to our comprehensive list of services for our patients. With the addition of Dr. Carpenter to our staff, we now offer acupuncture for our pet patients!
What is acupuncture? Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into targeted points to stimulate a biochemical and physiologic change in the body. These acupuncture points are where spinal nerves exit the spine, the routes of major nerves and the interfaces of major nerve-muscle junctions. There are scientific and medical studies providing us evidence of acupuncture’s mechanism of action and its effectiveness in humans and in animals.
NOW THROUGH DECEMBER GET 50% OFF YOUR INITIAL ACUPUNCTURE APPOINTMENT!
BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT NOW: Call (978) 369-3503 or email to make an appointment now
Katherine: Ok, first question on everyone’s mind - will my pet really sit still for acupuncture?
Dr. Carpenter: Yes! Acupuncture needles are much thinner than needles routinely used in veterinary practice. On the first visit, we start with smaller needles in a less sensitive location to make the experience as comfortable as possible. Even if your pet is very sensitive to having vaccines and blood taken, it’s likely that they’ll be okay with acupuncture needles, even cats. For example, I treat a French Bulldog, Sully, initially weekly and then monthly for his intervertebral disc disease and associated hind end weakness and instability. As you can see in the video of his very first treatment [above], he was quite calm and unfazed by the insertion of needles. Most animals don’t mind the insertion of the needles. They tend to enjoy the calming sensation they feel afterwards - some animals even fall asleep during treatment! Of course, some animals or points on the body are more sensitive than others and your pet may have a quick reaction during certain needle pokes but my goal is to earn their trust - and yours - by making the experience as pleasant as possible.
Katherine: How does it actually work?
Dr. Carpenter: I place acupuncture needles at points chosen to shift the nervous system toward a more relaxed and calm state, which is known as a parasympathetic response – the exact opposite of the sympathetic “fight or flight” response – to improve your pet’s ability to rest, regenerate, heal, and digest.
I target points that influence desired physiologic reactions and promote the release of important chemicals and neurotransmitters, such as the release of the body’s natural pain killers, endorphins and serotonin. Studies have found that acupuncture can reduce inflammation and stress, promote repair and regrowth of damaged tissues, increase circulation, stimulate nerve function, relieve muscle and soft tissue spasm and tightness, improve digestion and enhance the body’s immune system.
Katherine: What conditions does acupuncture treat?
Dr. Carpenter: Musculoskeletal and neurologic problems are the most commonly treated conditions. This includes joint pain from arthritis, hip dysplasia, neck or back pain from either soft tissue strain or spinal cord disease, nerve injuries or paralysis, and lameness.
Acupuncture is an additional therapeutic option for certain internal and systemic diseases and other inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, asthma, chronic rhinitis, ear and skin allergies, feline lower urinary tract disorder, and terminal cancer pain. Following a thorough diagnostic workup and therapeutic medical plan, it can safely be used with other medications to reduce clinical signs and improve comfort and quality of life.
Katherine: What should clients expect during their first appointment?
Dr. Carpenter: The first acupuncture appointment is a one-hour exam. We’ll discuss your pet’s history and establish the goals of treatment. I’ll perform a myofascial palpation exam (a gentle hands-on massage to detect areas of pain, tenderness, weakness and tension) and depending on the condition, a neurologic exam and we’ll develop a treatment plan. You’ll remain with your pet during the appointment to make them comfortable. We’ll provide comfortable padding and treats and you can bring a favorite toy, snack and blankets
In most cases, follow-up treatments are 30 minutes once per week for 5-6 weeks in a row. We can then taper treatments as needed to maintain the patient’s improvement, ranging from every two weeks to every few months. Each individual pet requires different amounts of time for the needles to be left in and this typically ranges from a few minutes to 20 minutes.