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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lori Cavitt

Does acupuncture really work?

I am often asked the question: “Does acupuncture really work?” I always tell clients to let the patient tell us. Acupuncture (or any medical or non-medical treatment for that matter), does not have the “sugar pill” effect on animals as it does on humans. If a procedure or medication works, you will know it. With the previous statement in mind, I thought I would share an acupuncture case with you and allow you to see for yourself whether or not acupuncture works.

This is Dovie. She is an 8 ½ year old American Eskimo Husky. She was rescued by her humans in Texas where her previous humans surrendered her to the American Eskimo rescue organization.

So what’s Dovie’s problem? About a year prior to our first exam with her, Dovie started vomiting. She would vomit daily to several times a day, EVERY day. Mostly in the mornings or after drinking water. Dovie’s parents took her to their primary veterinarian. He ran labwork, xrays, eventually did an endoscopy exam; tried several medications, but nothing was helping Dovie. The treatments, diet changes, and diagnostics had been exhausted, and Dovie continued to vomit daily. As a last resort, Dovie’s dad called a veterinarian in Hawaii. He suggested that they take Dovie to a good dog acupuncturist. Luckily, they found a dog acupuncture clinic in Henderson, Texas.

On Dovie’s first visit she was nervous and our staff learned that she is very aggressive toward other people and that she WILL bite. Our first acupuncture session was eventful. Dovie was so apprehensive and anxious about others touching her that she screamed every time we placed an acupuncture needle. We finally applied all the points she needed and turned on our stim device. She relaxed some, but not a lot.

The week following her first treatment, Dovie did not improve much as far as her vomiting. During her second treatment, one week later, Dovie was a bit better on allowing us to apply her needles. This time, after turning on our stim device, Dovie relaxed. She closed her eyes and almost fell asleep during treatment. We continued to treat Dovie weekly for a while. After the third treatment, her humans let me know that she had only vomited once or twice the previous week!! Outstanding news!! And zero medication! A few weeks later, they told me that she was not vomiting at all!!!! Yay! At that time, we started increasing the length of time between treatments by one week.

Almost two years later, we acupuncture Dovie every six weeks. If we go longer than six weeks, she starts vomiting every day that sixth week. Amazing.

So, does acupuncture work? I think so.

Some facts about medical animal acupuncture:

Veterinary or animal acupuncture was discovered when lame horses used in battle were found to become sound after being hit by arrows at distinct points. Acupuncture has been a form of treating a multitude of ailments and diseases for thousands of years. Veterinary acupuncture is very similar to human acupuncture with the exceptions of a few points due to anatomy.

Medical acupuncture is actually a scientific aid in the treatment of several medical conditions. Medical acupuncture uses points associated with blood vessels and nerves as opposed to random points used thousands of years ago; although, they are similar.

Acupuncture works by stimulating nerves and blood vessels in the area of concern. It also releases endorphins to aid in pain control and to ease anxiety. The main mechanism of action is to stimulate a neuron, which in turn travels to the spinal cord, gives a signal, and then returns to the area of concern. The area of concern is chosen by acupuncture “points” that have been studied and proven effective.

Acupuncture is not meant to completely replace modern medicine, but if used, the amount of medications needed can be significantly decreased and possibly discontinued. This is especially important in aging animals with chronic arthritis. The liver and the kidneys can only handle so much medication, and acupuncture allows these medications to be decreased, and often discontinued. Some patients are maintained on all natural joint supplements with acupuncture and no arthritis medicine is needed.

Acupuncture can also aid in the treatment of kidney and liver disease, as well as appetite stimulation and pain control in cancer patients. Acupuncture is used to stimulate the immune system in cases of allergies and auto-immune disorders.

I challenge you to try acupuncture for your dog, cat, parrot, horse, or cow!

Dr. Lori Cavitt

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