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Veterinary Medical Acupuncture

Jenny Marin, DVM, cVMA

Veterinary Medical Acupuncture is the use of slim, sterile needles to stimulate specific points on the body. Needle placement is used to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve a desired effect and to help the body to heal itself.  While not a magical cure, it works well where indicated.

Frequently Asked Questions:

WHAT CONDITIONS RESPOND TO ACUPUNCTURE?

Acupuncture bridges the gap between medicine and surgery.  Acupuncture is used primarily when medications are not effective or are contraindicated due to possible side effects, or when surgery is not feasible.  It is intended to be used with traditional medical therapies (not as a replacement).

  • Musculoskeletal problems such as hip dysplasia, arthritis, and chronic pain of any kind.
  • Skin problems such as lick granulomas and allergies
  • Nervous system disorders such as intervertebral disc disease, traumatic nerve injury and certain types of paralysis
  • Urinary issues such as incontinence and feline lower urinary tract disease
  • Chronic gastrointestinal disease causing vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Respiratory problems such as chronic upper respiratory infections and feline asthma.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

This contemporary neuroanatomical approach to acupuncture reflects the idea that needle placement is guided by the practitioner's detailed knowledge of veterinary anatomy and neurology.

Acupuncture does more than relieve pain.  How it works depends on what condition one is treating and which points are utilized.  Acupuncture increases circulation; reduces inflammation; causes the release of neurotransmitters from the brain - some of which are endorphins & enkephalins - the body’s “natural pain-killing” hormones; relieves muscle spasms; stimulates nerves; stimulates the body’s defense systems; as well as numerous other beneficial effects.  

IS IT PAINFUL?  HOW WILL MY ANIMAL REACT?

Acupuncture is performed with sterilized single-use thin stainless steel needles.  There is occasionally a brief moment of sensitivity as the needle penetrates the skin in certain sensitive areas.  Once the needles are in place, most animals relax, and may even fall asleep during treatment.  Occasionally there are animals who will never tolerate the needles, but this is not common.

IS IT SAFE?

Acupuncture is one of the safest therapies utilized.  Side effects are rare.  Occasionally an animal’s condition may deteriorate temporarily before improving but this phenomenon typically resolves in 24-48 hours.  Acupuncture balances the body’s own system of healing and no chemicals are administered, complications rarely, if ever, develop.

HOW OFTEN & HOW LONG DOES ONE TREAT?

Treatments may last from 10 seconds to 30 minutes depending upon the condition treated and the method employed.  Patients are often treated 1-3 times a week for 4-6 weeks, and then every 1-3 months as needed. A positive response is often noticed within the first 4-6 treatments, sometimes earlier, depending upon the condition treated.  It does take time to see the cumulative effects of acupuncture treatment.

WHAT TO BRING?

Our goal is to make your pet as comfortable as possible during his or her acupuncture session.  We may use food distraction to take their mind off of the needles so please bring their favorite treat, snack or even just part of their daily meal.  If they have a favorite bed that is convenient to bring please feel free to bring it along.  We encourage you to wear comfortable clothes that will allow you to sit with your pet during treatment, possibly on the floor or wherever your pet is most comfortable.


Dr. Marin received her DVM from NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine in 2004.  She completed her certification in Veterinary Medical Acupuncture in 2015 through the One Health SIM program in Colorado.

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