Alternative and Integrative


How does it work? Acupuncture is the insertion of small thin sterile stainless steel needles to specific "points" or areas on the body to affect the nervous and physiologic systems. Acupuncture helps restore the body's natural balance by sending signals through the tissues and the nerves to the spinal cord and brain. This releases chemicals and signals the body to react. Acupuncture points are located where nerve bundles penetrate the fascial tissue, in close proximity to major blood vessels, at motor points where nerves enter or exit the muscle, and at trigger points (areas of chronic muscle contraction). Local effects in the tissues of the acupuncture needle are capillary dilation (improves circulation) and immune activation, tissue repair activation, reducing inflammation and normalizing circulation (through local and supraspinal controls). Systemic effects include release of met-enkephalin, B-endorphin, dynorphins, opioids, and increased serotonin levels.

What is it used for? Acupuncture is most often used to treat painful conditions such as arthritis. However since there are nerves going to nearly every part of the body, acupuncture can be used for many conditions. Acupuncture can help better control chronic diseases that are not optimally controlled by western medicine alone. Acupuncture can help achieve general wellness through preventive medicine. Acupuncture can speed healing time and control pain during and post operatively for surgeries and dental procedures. Acupuncture relieves muscle tension and modulates the nervous system.

Examples of conditions in which to consider acupuncture:

  • Musculoskeletal and neurologic systems: Arthritis and hip dysplasia, Intervertebral disk disease, Nerve injuries/paralysis, Back pain, Shortened stride, Lameness, Tendon injuries, Seizures.
  • Oral cavity- Dental/Tooth pain, Temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) pain
  • Skin problems: Lick granuloma, Allergies, Wound healing
  • Urinary tract disorders: Feline lower urinary tract disease, Cystitis, Chronic renal disease
  • Gastrointestinal system: Vomiting, Diarrhea, Constipation, Nausea, Inflammatory bowel disease, Fecal incontinence
  • Respiratory system: Asthma, Chronic upper respiratory infections, nasal congestion
  • Occular disorders: Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, Corneal ulcers
  • Reproductive problems: Irregular cycles
  • Ear issues: Otitis externa
  • Oncology/cancer patients: Pain control, nausea, quality of life
  • Declawed cats: Phantom limb pain
"Acupuncture is a great way to help animals, both in conjunction with traditional medicine or as a sole therapy," Dr. Simonson explained. Scientific studies have shown that it decreases inflammation and triggers the release of a natural pain control response. "It's amazing to study the scientific research about what happens in the brain and nervous system when you employ acupuncture," continued Dr. Simonson, describing her golden retriever, Maggie and the relief she's experienced through acupuncture therapy.



  • How does it feel?

    Like a small pin prick, possible dull ache or cramp, sensation of an impulse "traveling" (this is mediated by muscle spindle afferents). Does it hurt? No, most pets actually become very relaxed and enjoy the treatment.

  • Are there any side effects?

    Some pets may experience warmth, and have a red flare around the needle. This is stimulated by the axon/nerve reflex. Rarely, there may be a mild swelling or a small amount of bleeding at the acupuncture sites.

  • How long does it last?

    A usual treatment is about 20 minutes, anywhere from 2-20 needles may be used depending on your pets unique exam and needs.

  • Is it different than human acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Acupuncture?

    Veterinary Medical Acupuncture focuses on your pets individual problem and works closely with western medical diagnostics and therapy in order for a complete approach. It does not replace the need for medications but can lessen the length of treatment, decrease the amount of medication needed, or make a better recovery. Acupuncture can be used solely if an individual patient is intolerant of medications. Humans have different anatomy than pets but many points used are similar. Traditional Chinese Acupuncture may also use similar points but does not focus on the nervous system or anatomy/neuromodulation of the body systems.

  • What are the benefits?

    Acupuncture adds another avenue for optimal treatment of veterinary medical issues. The addition of acupuncture to therapy results in improved pain control, decreased healing time, and improved outcome. It is used in conjunction with western medicine, most drugs, as well as other therapies with minimal side effects.

Please call us today at (602) 845-5930 to schedule an appointment for evaluation to see if acupuncture can help your pet.