Should Your Veterinary Hospital Offer Acupuncture Services?

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Written By: Emily L. Elliot VMD. Chippens Hill Veterinary Hospital

Acupuncture is a growing part of veterinary practices today and many pet owners are turning to this method of treatment for their pets. There are several reasons to consider adding acupuncture to your list of services at your veterinary hospital.

Veterinary acupuncture offers management for pain, seizures, immune support, and gastrointestinal therapy that can be used in addition to medical and surgical treatment and sometimes even instead of it.  Animals respond well to acupuncture and there is no placebo effect for them, though it is important to guide their owners through objective evaluation of response to therapy.  Veterinary acupuncture cannot be bought on the Internet and it increases client visits to the hospital.  The overhead in acupuncture supplies is minimal after the initial investments of time and education.

Education in acupuncture takes place usually in four sessions of four days each over about a year and can be found in a variety of locations and institutions around the country.   Beyond the basic education, certification by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, IVAS, provides credibility via requirements for education, examination, mentorship, a case log, and a peer-reviewed case report.  A veterinarian learning acupuncture makes a significant commitment in time and study of this centuries old medicine.

Once a veterinarian is qualified to offer acupuncture in practice, the support of staff and colleagues comes easily since the animals’ response to treatment gives visual results.  Internal referrals of existing cases in the hospital build the use of acupuncture quickly.  Animals with chronic conditions such as degenerative joint disease, intervertebral disc disease, and epilepsy do well with treatment and generally need long-term maintenance.  Acute cases needing short-term treatment include animals undergoing dental procedures, hospitalized patients with refractory vomiting or diarrhea, and post-op surgical patients.  All have better pain management and faster healing with acupuncture as part of their care.

In the next two installments in this series, I will compare acupuncture with laser therapy and discuss implementing acupuncture in general practice.

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