Acupuncture - St Peters Vets

St Peters Vets Ltd is pleased to be able to offer Acupuncture treatment for dogs suffering with back pain, lameness and osteoarthritis.

What is acupuncture?

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Acupuncture involves placing special, very tiny needles in the body at certain places. Exactly where the needles are placed depends on what we find when the patient is examined, and on the condition being treated.
The needles are far finer than the ones we use for giving injections, only about the thickness of a hair!

How does it work?

It works through the nervous system. The needles block the pain messages by triggering the release of various chemicals and neurotransmitters and by encouraging the brain and central nervous system to produce more of the body’s natural painkillers. In conditions that are not painful, acupuncture may help to reset the body’s normal functioning.

Is it effective?

In our experience, acupuncture is very effective, especially for treating painful conditions. No treatment is always effective in all patients (not even drugs!). About 80% of patients respond well to acupuncture.

Will it hurt my pet?

Acupuncture needles stimulate nerves which do not cause the unpleasant feelings of pain. They stimulate different nerves which send a message to the brain which takes priority, which is how they block pain. Most patients accept the fine needles very well and some even become relaxed and sleepy during the treatment. Often they appear to look forward to the next treatment when they come back to the practice.

Would my pet need to be sedated for this treatment?

No. Generally the animals tolerate Acupuncture very well and we would not normally sedate them. We ask that the owner stays with their pet during treatment, which often helps to keep the patient calm.

What conditions can it be useful for?

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Muscle and ligament sprains/strains/spasms
  • Any other condition in which pain plays a part
  • Lick granulomas

It can sometimes also be useful in a range of non-painful conditions – feel free to discuss your pet’s individual problems with us.

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How often would my pet be treated?

The usual course is once a week for four weeks. After four weeks we will know whether acupuncture is working for your pet and then, depending on the condition and how they have responded, we will work out a plan that usually involves tailing off the treatment frequency.
Usually the frequency is reduced to about once every 3-4 weeks.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is very safe, in the right hands. Legally it must be performed by a Veterinary Surgeon. There have been no official reports of problems in animals, but there are very occasionally problems in humans treated with acupuncture (which could usually be avoided with care and a good knowledge of anatomy).

What to expect

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The initial consultation and acupuncture treatment will take up to 40 minutes. Your pet’s history and symptoms will be discussed, and they will be thoroughly examined. Subsequent treatments will take 20-30 minutes.

The first treatment will involve the placement of just a few needles for about 5-10 minutes, since the first time they have acupuncture we do not know how sensitive they will be. There is not a set “dose” of acupuncture as there is for medication, so your vet will judge how much to do based on your pet’s response both at the time and after the treatment.

It does not matter if your pet moves around or lies down during treatment! Many pets become very relaxed and dozy during or after treatment.

Some pets will be much improved after just one treatment session, but it is more common to see a gradual improvement over a period of time.

Acupuncture can be used alongside conventional drug treatment, or on its own. There is no need to stop ongoing medication (though if the acupuncture works really well, you may find that they no longer need painkilling drugs!)

What response will I see?

Your pet may show one of three responses to treatment:

  • You may see a good improvement. This can occur anytime in the
    three days after treatment. The signs that we are trying to treat may then return before the next treatment, but this is fine. After each subsequent treatment the effects should last for longer, so that after the initial course we can usually leave a longer amount of time between treatments.
  • Occasionally they may seem a little stiffer or more uncomfortable
    initially. This just means that the dose was a bit too much, but also shows that they should respond very well to acupuncture. After a day or two they will improve again and should be better than before. However, you must tell your vet so that they can adjust the treatment next time.
  • You may see no response. This is always disappointing but does not
    mean your pet will not respond; it may just be that they will take a little longer or that their improvement after the first treatment was too brief or small for you to see. We cannot say that they will not respond until after the fourth treatment. Not all animals or humans are acupuncture “responders”, but about 80% will be.


For further information or to make an appointment, please phone the surgery on 01730 266431.