We are happy to announce the addition of acupuncture to our practice! Dr. Chase is certified in veterinary medical acupuncture and would love to speak with you about how it might help your pet! Acupuncture causes the release of natural endorphins and other pain relieving substances and promotes blood flow to injured areas.
Call us today if you would like to set up a consultation with Dr. Chase!
Here at Bouton we are passionate about improving the lives of pets. One of the ways we can improve their lives is by improving their comfort level. Advances in veterinary medicine have thankfully helped us extend the lifespan of dogs and cats, but longer lifespans go hand in hand with increasing incidences of arthritis and other painful conditions. We want to give more meaning to those extra years by offering acupuncture in addition to traditional pain medications. Acupuncture can help relieve pain by physically breaking up painful "knots" in tight muscle tissue and by stimulating the body to increase blood flow to the painful area, which helps remove metabolic waste from the area and also brings in the body's natural painkillers including endorphins and natural anti-inflammatory molecules. Dr. Lisa Chase trained under the CuraCore program to be able to provide this option for our patients.
Recognizing pain in dogs and cats
Dogs and cats are experts at hiding their pain. They have a natural instinct to hide any weakness that might have them picked off as easier prey in the wild. This unfortunately makes it harder to notice when they are hurting. Signs can be very subtle and are often mistaken for "slowing down with age" and can include not being as excited about going on a walk, not wanting to walk quite as far, not jumping up on furniture as often, urinating outside of the litter box, just to name a few. If you think your pet is experiencing pain, please schedule an appointment with us. Dr. Chase would be happy to evaluate your pet and see if they are a good candidate for acupuncture.
Common questions about acupuncture
1) Do pets tolerate acupuncture?
Yes! We have found many pets (including cats!) relax after a few needles are placed. The needles are very thin, not much wider than a human hair, and are designed to not stimulate a pain response. Not every pet will feel this way of course. If they are averse to it, then it may not be a good option for them. For pets that like to walk around the room, they can! Moving while the needles are in will not cause a problem.
2) How does it work?
There are a few different mechanisms through which acupuncture relieves pain.
Increased blood flow: The body responds to the stimulus of a needle by increasing blood flow to the area. This increased blood flow can help eliminate the buildup of metabolic waste that can occur especially in painful areas (think about your sore muscles with lactic acid buildup after a workout). This also brings in the natural pain relieving substances like endorphins.
The needle can break up microscopic entanglements of muscle fibers (commonly known as "knots"). This can be uncomfortable initially as those areas are tender but relieving that tight band can lead to considerable pain control. (Think of a deep tissue massage, sometimes uncomfortable, but so effective).
Acupuncture needles create a stimulus that competes with the pain stimulus at the level of the spinal cord and brain. The nervous system has different nerve fibers that travel at different speeds. The nerve signal created from a needle prick essentially gets a high priority in the body's communication system. Chronic pain travels on slower nerve fibers, kind of like background noise. A sudden needle prick travels on the faster fibers because the body needs to be immediately alerted from potential damage. The acupuncture needle can create that signal WITHOUT causing actual damage. This stimulus can essentially "drown out the noise" of chronic pain.
Because of the high priority status of the acupuncture stimulus, the body will release substances at the level of the spinal cord that lower pain so that it can essentially focus on the new information.
3) Is there any risk?
No treatment is 100% risk free. Acupuncture is one of the safest options available and it can be used in conjunction with any medication. The risks include:
Bleeding: there may be a tiny spot of blood if a superficial blood vessel is punctured. If a pet has a bleeding disorder where it has lost the ability to clot blood, than acupuncture would not be a good option.
Pain: While we try to make acupuncture a painless experience, it is possible to experience pain, especially if an area is very tender. Some dogs feel sore for a brief time afterwards and may even favor a leg more afterwards, but this generally resolves within an hour.
Needle ingestion: Dogs are notorious for putting things in their mouth that do not belong there. For this reason I avoid needling areas that are easily reached by the mouth (like front paws) and I watch them VERY closely to prevent them from licking out a needed.
4) What conditions can be treated?
The most proven use of acupuncture is for pain. Acupuncture is also very useful in conditions where the body's communication system is failing. In particular IVDD / Herniated disks: In this condition, the cushion between the body vertebrae of the back pushes against the spinal cord. The pressure reduces the ability of the spinal cord to communicate (transmit signals) to other parts of the body (most commonly the hind legs) leading to weakness and even paralysis. Stimulating those nerves with acupuncture can help re-establish that line of communication.