Frequently Asked Questions
If you have questions not answered here, please let us know (contact details)
Q. Will my horse (or pony, dog, cat, donkey, goat etc.) accept the treatment?
A. Animals generally accept acupuncture very well indeed. Relaxation is the usual response to acupuncture vet treatment. In the rare cases when the patient does not readily accept needling, we offer different methodology. We do not sedate patients for acupuncture as, apart from the potential toxicity of the chemical used, the patient’s perception of the acupuncture stimulus and response to it is likely to be altered. Furthermore, we will not be able to see the responses. Our experience is that most patients willingly submit themselves to the acupuncture vet for a second treatment, when offered, thus demonstrating their comfort with the process.
Q. What conditions/diseases can be helped by acupuncture?
A. There is a wide selection of problems that can respond favourably to acupuncture, depending to an extent upon the experience or methodology of the individual acupuncture vet. We have listed most of these on various pages around this web site (esp. Acupuncture – Equine Acupuncture – Canine Acupuncture – Feline Acupuncture). Paralysis and painful conditions such as arthritis, back pain and other back problems, nerve injury and prolapse intervertebral disc are common applications. Headshaking and Recurrent Uveitis (Periodic Ophthalmia – Moonblindness) in horses are also regular calls on our time.
Q. What sort of cost can I expect?
A. It is always difficult to compare costs across different treatments but, in general, successful treatments are very cost-effective. Obviously, each acupuncture vet will have his or her own pricing structure and it is wise to ask in advance. At the AVMC, we have found that three treatments are usually required, in order to find out how well acupuncture may help a patient. After this, sporadic treatments may be required, to maintain the benefit or some patients may run on indefinitely without. Of course, as with any form of medicine, a failed treatment appears costly, however much or little is charged! The AVMC’s charges are usually time-based; detailed estimates of cost can be requested from our office (contact details).
Q. Will my insurance pay?
A. Most insurance policies allow for acupuncture to be used on your animal. However, some will try to marginalise it under ‘complementary or alternative treatments’. This can result in reduced benefit. This appears to the AVMC to be a travesty, since the treatment is performed by a fully-qualified vet and should be handled under general veterinary cover. Acupuncture treatment by a non-vet is illegal in the UK and should not be covered anyway.
Q. Can I expect to see blood?
A. Despite the fact that we clearly ‘make a hole’ when needling a patient, we see blood extremely rarely. Bleeding usually stops in seconds, if it does occur and does not cause problems.
Q. What is the legal position regarding acupuncture for animals?
A. The relevant legislation is the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. Acupuncture can be performed on animals only by a qualified veterinary surgeon.
Q. Can the needle cause damage or injury?
A. The needle is quite unlike the standard needle used for injections (hypodermic needle). It has no cutting edge, whereas the hypodermic needle has a cutting edge and inevitable cuts tissues on its way in. This cannot happen with an acupuncture needle.
Q. Will my horse (or pony, dog, cat, donkey, goat etc.) require sedation or anaesthetic?
A. Animals generally accept acupuncture very well indeed. Relaxation is the usual response. In the rare cases when the patient does not readily accept needling, we offer different methodology. We do not sedate or anaesthetise patients for acupuncture as, apart from the potential toxicity of the chemical used, the patient’s perception of the acupuncture stimulus and response to it is likely to be altered and corrupted. Our experience is that most patients willingly submit themselves to a second treatment, when offered, thus demonstrating their comfort with the process. This is not the policy of all acupuncture vets.
Q. Does needling alone do the job or is supporting therapy required?
A. At the AVMC, the Acupuncture Vet believes that acupuncture should be delivered as part of an integrated holistic programme, i.e. with the support of diet, manipulation, internal medicine (homeopathy or herbs) and environmental and lifestyle modification to encourage healing. Needling was not a ‘stand-alone’ treatment in Ancient China and we believe that much is lost from its capability, when it is asked to do the job alone. For instance, if the diet is unhealthy or if the skeleton is misaligned, how can the needling be expected do a good job? This is not necessarily the opinion of every acupuncture vet.
Q. Can LASER be used instead of needles?
A. LASER acupuncture (acupuncture-by-LASER) is a valid technique. However, it is not a direct substitute for needling as it is clearly a different process. It suits some patients better than needling and in others it is not so effective. LASER can also be used in conjunction with needling.
Q. Is it safe?
A. The use of needling according to well-tried guidelines is not attended by any special dangers. Of course, needles are sharp and should not be left lying around nor should they be handled carelessly, for fear of accidental damage to eyes or other sensitive structure. Needles should either be sterilised between treatments or, as is the practice at the AVMC, used once only and discarded safely after use.
At the AVMC, the Acupuncture Vet uses very flexible, one-piece, stainless steel needles. This is to avoid the risk of a needle breaking off in the patient, as might happen with two-piece, plastic-handled needles.
Q. Can acupuncture be integrated with other therapies?
A. Acupuncture can be used alongside herbal medicine, homeopathy, conventional medicine, aromatherapy, chiropractic manipulation etc., provided that it is properly integrated by an experienced acupuncture vet (holistic vet – integrated vet). It is our opinion that it should not be a stand alone therapy. For instance, how can a patient with a misaligned spine respond properly to acupuncture?
Q. Is there support from the conventional world for this therapy?
A. Even the independent NHS watchdog, NICE (N.I.C.E. – National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), has recognised the potential benefit from acupuncture and manipulation in the relief of human back pain (as of May 2009 – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article6368290.ece).
If you have questions not answered here, please let us know.