Pain is one of the most common indications for acupuncture. Very often, in cats and dogs, this is chronic (long term) pain due to arthritis but muscular strains and spinal problems can also respond well. Acupuncture can also be a great asset to the rehabilitation of pets following orthopaedic or spinal surgeries. In horses, there can be myofascial pain, sometimes associated with joint disease. Often, equine cases will appear as behaviour problems such as crib biting or box walking, but have an underlying and undiagnosed pain element. Equines are often highly trained athletes used for strenuous and demanding disciplines which often lead to musculoskeletal injuries. The use of acupuncture alone or in combination with other therapies can improve the speed and quality of recovery and avoid the need for medications banned under competition rules.
Acupuncture can also be of great benefit to medical conditions in pets, such as gastrointestinal disease, urinary disorders, epilepsy and much more. In horses, we often have success with recurrent colic or diarrhoea and chronic respiratory disease such as COPD/RAO. As each treatment is specifically tailored to an individual through extensive history taking and detailed examination, the protocol used will vary from animal to animal so speak to your veterinary acupuncturist about your pet's individual case. Be aware that, as with any treatment, there are a small percentage of animals that will not respond to acupuncture.
If you think that your pet or horse could benefit from acupuncture, the first step is to talk to your own vet. Acupuncture can only be performed on animals in the UK by a qualified veterinary surgeon who is a practising member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. On occasion, needles may be placed by a Registered Veterinary Nurse under the supervision of an appropriately trained vet. There may already be a vet trained in acupuncture at your practice. If not, you or your vet can use the Find a Vet function to search for a veterinary acupuncturist in your area. Your vet can then refer your pet or horse to this practitioner for acupuncture treatment. Medications and treatment for anything other than acupuncture is still provided by your own vet.