Acupuncture at Natterjacks

We are now able to offer an acupuncture service with our vet Louise Melling. Louise has completed a postgraduate certificate in canine rehabilitation, and an additional course in Western Veterinary Acupuncture.

What is it?

Acupuncture involves the placement of extremely fine (hair-width!) needles into various points in the body. These can be conventional acupuncture points, or into areas of tension and spasm (known as ‘trigger points’ – you may be familiar with these as the ‘knots’ of muscle you often find in your shoulders if you are tense!). Placement of needles into these areas can help ease the tension and pain that they cause.

How does it work?

Acupuncture is believed to work by deactivating these trigger points and thereby relieving pain. It also has further effects on pain perception by modulating pain signals in the spinal cord, and by altering the emotional response to pain in the brain. We sometimes find that patients treated with acupuncture will be happier in themselves, but not necessarily limp less – probably due to the effects in the brain. Acupuncture alters the emotional perception of the animals pain, and makes them ‘feel’ happier.

Placement of the needles is generally painless, although there can be a ‘dull’ sensation initially. Usually sessions take around 15-30 minutes, dependent on the patient. We find that with acupuncture some individuals respond better than others, and some patients respond particularly strongly. In humans, about 10% of people are very sensitive to acupuncture, and 10% do not respond. Most animals improve gradually after each treatment, but it is not uncommon to see some animals be worse for 24 hours after treatment, before they then show improvement. In some animals, acupuncture will not work.

Is it safe?

In general, acupuncture is very safe. There are some safety concerns associated with the placement of needles in certain (rarely used in animals) points, which is why it has to be undertaken by specially trained practitioners. There can sometimes be minor bleeding after the needle is withdrawn, and some patients can become sedated during and for a short time after treatment. Occasionally placement of the needles can be uncomfortable.

What can it treat?

Acupuncture is mainly used for the treatment of mobility disorders, often chronic osteoarthritis. However, it can be used for more acutely painful conditions, and even for completely different problems such as skin complaints, amongst a variety of others! Most of the patients we see are usually those suffering from chronic pain, and acupuncture is best used as a complementary therapy to conventional management.

Louise can also advise on physiotherapy exercises, home management, exercise plans and other aspects of rehabilitation as well as conventional medical treatment. We generally advise that a course of 4 sessions (once a week initially) is best to see if your pet will respond to acupuncture. If we get a good response, then session frequency can be adjusted to suit the individual – for most this will be once a month, but may be more or less frequent depending on the condition.

For animals seen at Natterjacks (Boscombe), the cost is:

  • £192.40 for an initial course of 4 sessions, or £55.00 for individual sessions

For a home visit with Vets2You, the cost is:

  • £307.80 for an initial course of 4 sessions, £90.70 for individual sessions