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I was told by my neighbor that acupuncture is useful for arthritis.  I had always thought it was hocus-pocus.  Is acupuncture an effective treatment for dogs and cats?

Acupuncture is an ancient form of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been used in domesticated animals for over 2000 years.  The first acupuncturists used it primarily to treat horses for the Emperors of China.  More intense interest in the use of acupuncture in dogs and cats has existed over the past 40 years.  Many scientific studies have been performed around the world to support the Chinese principles of treatment, but there is much about acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine that is still not fully understood in the context of conventional medicine.  

Acupuncture is used to treat a variety of medical conditions, but one of the most instantly gratifying and useful applications of acupuncture is to treat pain.  In particular, it is common for older dogs to need multiple oral medications for arthritis, and acupuncture fits well as a non-pharmaceutical adjunct that has little to no side effects.  A patient with liver disease or kidney disease may not be able to take some medicines for long periods of time without potential consequences, and can really benefit from acupuncture.  The needles are placed at local and general points that help soothe the patient and generate biochemical substances that provide calming and pain relief effects. 

The first step in getting acupuncture for your pet is to see a practitioner that specializes in this form of practice.  The education and skills that are required to perform this treatment accurately require specialized training and the consultation on the pet is usually a bit longer than a consultation than a typical “western” consultation. 

Heather Troyer, DVM, DABVP (Board Specialized in Canine and Feline Practice), CVA, (Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist), CVPP (Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner)

Dr. Troyer graduated from the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2001. She completed a one-year internship at the Animal Medical Center in NY, NY from 2001-2002 and joined the staff at Oradell Animal Hospital in 2005 as a member of the general medicine and surgery group. In 2008, Dr. Troyer became board certified through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in Canine and Feline Practice (general medicine and surgery), which awards specialty certification to practitioners who demonstrate expertise above and beyond what is required to practice veterinary medicine. In 2009, Dr. Troyer helped to create the Oradell CARES program. Oradell CARES is designed to assist families and patients with hospice and care giver support issues through both in-home evaluation and out-patient management. In addition, Dr. Troyer was awarded certification in veterinary acupuncture through the Chi Institute in Reddick, Florida, in 2010, and completed additional curricula in Tui-Na, a unique form of massage specific for Traditional Chinese Medicine. She most recently rounded out her education by becoming a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner through the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management in 2014. She practices integrative medicine, especially in cases where quality of life issues are paramount, and practices both out-patient and in-home pain management using both eastern and western techniques. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her children, running, and cooking. She frequently writes for medical journals such as Clinician’s Brief and Veterinary Team Brief, and actively promotes continuing education at our hospital through lectures and wet labs, and promotion of student externship programs.
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