What Is Veterinary Acupuncture

WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?

Acupuncture has been used in the veterinary medicine in China for thousands of years to treat many diseases, and involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body. It can be used alone, or in conjunction with western medicine or Chinese herbs to treat an array of diseases.

Dr Jimson Chan with 14-year-old Sunshine who has been going to Mount Pleasant (North) for regular acupuncture treatments. Dr Jimson pursued and graduated from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) Australian Veterinary Acupuncture Course in 2015, and has since been using acupuncture as an adjunct modality of treatment for his patients.

how does acupuncture work?

All diseases cause a disruption of homeostasis, which refers to the body’s ability to regulate its internal environment, and most of the diseases involve a certain degree of pain and inflammation. Acupuncture essentially relieves pain, inflammation and restores homeostasis through the stimulation of the peripheral nervous system by the needles. A signal is sent from the acupuncture point to the spinal cord and up the brain, which results in the release of endorphins and cortisol, all of which alleviate pain and allows the patient to feel relaxed.

Acupuncture also heals the body by creating “micro traumas” that activates the immune, nervous and endocrine systems, which in turn stimulates the body’s ability to spontaneously heal tissue injuries. As the micro traumas heal, any surrounding damaged tissues from previous injuries will heal as well.

IS ACUPUNCTURE PAINFUL?

An acupuncture needle is very fine, and the tip of the needle is rounded. As such, insertion of an acupuncture needle is virtually painless. Acupuncture treatments may incite a sensation of numbness or tingling that some animals might find uncomfortable, but most of them tolerate the treatment very well. Some have even fallen asleep in the middle of a session.

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An acupuncture needle has a rounded (not beveled) tip to slide smoothly through tissues, making it less painful or traumatic.

IS ACUPUNCTURE SAFE?

Acupuncture is performed with sterile thin stainless steel needles. Acupuncture works by stimulating the body’s own system of healing. Needle placement is into the superficial muscles only, with depth up to 5mm in a large breed dog.

Dr Audrey Loi, Mount Pleasant (East), with 14-year-old Vodka. Acupuncture needles are very fine. Most animals become very relaxed and sleepy during treatment.

“Vodka has always been super active and so keen on swimming. It’s quite sad to see him losing mobility slowly.” ~ Jasmine

“Vodka still swims which is good for his muscles. Acupuncture seems to be helping him as he seems stronger and more stable after the treatments.”

HOW LONG & OFTEN ARE ACUPUNCTURE SESSIONS?

A typical acupuncture session takes about 30 to 45 minutes. The vet will ask a series of questions pertaining to the illness, as well as questions on the overall character and daily routine of your pet. The better you know your pet, the easier it is for the vet to make a diagnosis and treat it.

After a diagnosis is made, the vet will select the appropriate acupuncture points. The needles are left on the patient for about 15 to 20 minutes each time. Do not expect the patient to recover within one session. Depending on the disease, several sessions may be necessary for a satisfactory response. The vet will discuss your pet’s condition and draw up a treatment plan during the initial consultation.

Dr Kasey Tan, Mount Pleasant (North), firmly believes that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. Dr Kasey pursued a Certification Course in Veterinary Chinese Herbal Medicine in 2012 and Veterinary Acupuncture in 2017, both certified by IVAS. He has since been offering the best of Western and Chinese therapeutics to his patients.

Sunshine recently turned 14 and is looking better than she did 6 months ago. “Sunshine came to us 9 years ago with many medical issues. She is currently receiving regular acupuncture treatments with Dr Jimson and Dr Kasey. We are forever grateful to the patient medical team at Mount Pleasant who has helped Sunshine with treatments as she ages.” ~ Jeanne

WHAT CONDITIONS RESPOND TO ACUPUNCTURE?

Acupuncture can be used alone or in conjunction with western medicine or Chinese herbs to treat or manage an array of diseases such as osteoarthritis, intervertebral disc disease (e.g. slipped disc), common cold, conjunctivitis, gastritis, sprains or strains, skin problems, urinary incontinence, neurological disorders (e.g. tremors, seizures, paralysis).

“Buddy is 13 years old. He is my best friend since he was a puppy.”  ~ Claudia

“He used to be very active but recently developed arthritis due to his age and weight. He is currently receiving acupuncture treatment from Dr Audrey Loi once every fortnight.”

In electro-acupuncture, electrodes are attached to the needles to produce a gentle current to stimulate the flow of energy or Qi more aggressively.

Buddy with our receptionist Yi Min after one of his acupuncture treatments at Mount Pleasant (East). “Buddy’s well being is closely monitored by Dr Loi and her caring staff. Buddy is now limping less, he looks healthier and happier.” ~ Claudia

IS MY PET IN PAIN?

Our pets may feel pain when they are sick or injured. However, recognising pain can be challenging as animals instinctively hide their pain and exhibit symptoms differently from us. Pain can be caused by physical trauma, disease of internal organs (e.g. pancreatitis, blocked urethra), surgical procedures, spinal problems and degenerative changes (e.g. osteoarthritis).

  • Watch out for changes in behaviour: unusually quiet and withdrawn, restless, trembling, avoiding human interaction, whining, biting when touched, licking a body part excessively, limping, difficulty lying down or sleeping.
  • Regular dental checkups can help prevent the development of painful oral diseases.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the incidence and severity of osteoarthritis.
  • Schedule yearly health checks to detect any health issues early and give your beloved pet the best chance at a long, healthy and pain-free life.

“TCM recognises that there is a vital energy known as Qi that flows through the body. Qi is responsible for controlling harmony in the body (health) and maintaining the balance between body, mind & spirit. Disease is a result of an imbalance of Qi in the body. Acupuncture is believed to help balance this energy.” ~ Dr Audrey Loi of Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East) has an interest in traditional Chinese medicine and is one of the first International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) certified veterinarians in Singapore.


We welcome medical stories of your animal friends to educate and inspire others. Email us at comms@mountpleasant.com.sg and be part of Mount Pleasant community over at our Websiteand Facebook.

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Caring For Our Arthritic Dogs

Is your dog moving around more slowly? Is he having difficulty lying down and getting up? Is she reluctant to climb stairs or hop into cars? Your dog may be suffering from osteoarthritis – a painful degenerative joint disease.  Osteoarthritis is more common in older, larger and working dogs due to wear and tear. It can also arise from obesity, trauma or birth defects such as abnormally formed hips. 


SIGNS OF PAIN can be SUBTLE AND DIFFICULT TO DIAGNOSE

Chronic pain due to age-related disorders like osteoarthritis usually develops slowly. It can be hard to detect because some animals learn to tolerate and live with the pain.

Chronic pain can create a “stress response” associated with elevations of cortisol. This may reduce the patient’s immune response, leading to infection & slower healing.

Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease occurs with age when the cartilage between bones wears down over time.

OUR PETS CANNOT TELL US IN WORDS WHEN THEY ARE IN PAIN

Watch our pets closely to detect signs of arthritic pain:

  • reluctance to walk or play
  • stiffness and lameness
  • difficulty lying down or getting up
  • difficulty climbing stairs
  • unusually quiet or withdrawn
  • biting or snapping when touched
  • appetite loss

Have your vet perform a physical examination & take X-rays to check for degenerative joint changes.

SPEAK WITH YOUR VET ABOUT MANAGING ARTHRITIS WITH:
  • Medications (anti-inflammatories and pain relief)
  • Cartrophen injections (a disease modifying drug to reduce adverse effects of osteoarthritis)
  • Supplements (e.g. glucosamine, chondroitin, omega oils)
  • Physical therapy (e.g. hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, massage)
  • Acupuncture

“Acupuncture has been used in animals for at least 3000 years. It is commonly used to manage conditions such as degenerative joint disease (arthritis) and intervertebral disc disease. A typical session, including a physical checkup, lasts up to 30 minutes.”

Acupuncture is available at Mount Pleasant (East) with Dr Audrey Loi, Mount Pleasant (Changi) with Dr Pauline Fong and Mount Pleasant (North) with Dr Jimson Chan. Read more about veterinary acupuncture

Hydrotherapy with trained hydrotherapists can help your arthritic dogs lose weight (if they are overweight) & strengthen leg muscles. The buoyancy of water reduces stress on joints & relieves pain & stiffness.

IF YOUR dog SUFFERS FROM CHRONIC arthritic PAIN, BASIC LIFESTYLE CHANGES CAN OFFER RELIEF.

  • Extra weight increases stress on the joints. Keep your dogs trim with a healthy diet and low impact exercises.
  • Provide gently-sloped ramps to access gardens or get in and out of cars.
  • Raise food and water bowls to a comfortable level to reduce neck or back strain.
  • Lay non-slip mats around the house to help your dog get up and walk more easily .
  • Provide comfortable and supportive beds.

There are ready-made elevated bowls & stands or you can place the bowls on non-slip stools.

A note on EXERCISe – too little or too much
  • Regardless of age or extent of arthritis, it is important to keep our dogs fit and mobile. Engage your dogs in regular low impact exercises to reduce stiffness and improve flexibility. Massage their muscles daily to relieve any tightness.
  • Follow your dog’s pace.. Take it slow and easy. It is better to do a few short sessions of exercise (e.g. three 10-minute sessions a day) rather than one long session.

Do not over-exert our dogs no matter how enthusiastic they appear. Excessive running, jumping or swimming can cause injuries to joints & bones.

Check & trim your dog’s nails regularly. Overgrown nails can cause pain, change the way your dog walks & place abnormal stress on the joints. Take your dog to the vet or groomer if you are inexperienced in nail trimming.

5-month-young Capers went through a surgery called Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis

Some puppies, unfortunately, are genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia. Capers’ hind legs were stiff and he was bunny hopping more frequently. X-rays confirmed he had mild hip dysplasia which can lead to painful arthritic hip degeneration in later years. Treated early, dogs like Capers can lead a full life. Get behind the scenes here.

(Left): Dog with normal hips versus (Right): Dog with osteoarthritis

“Prevention is better than cure” is especially true for senior pets as age predisposes them to certain diseases. At Mount Pleasant, we emphasise total wellness & preventive healthcare so that our pets live longer, healthier lives. Speak with our vets about annual health screens for our cats & dogs.