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The use of acupuncture is growing in popularity among veterinarians and the practitioners say they are impressed with the results.

Only a few decades ago, the use of acupuncture in veterinary medicine was virtually unheard of. In recent years, the use of acupuncture in veterinary medicine has been steadily growing, and success stories like Sampson are driving further interest in veterinary acupuncture. At a recent Western Veterinary Conference (the largest continuing educational conference for veterinarians in the world), an acupuncture wet lab was filled to capacity with veterinarians interested in learning more about this "alternative" therapy.

As interest and application of acupuncture grows in veterinary medicine, practitioners are using the modality for much more than pain control. In fact, acupuncture can be used to help treat allergies, seizures, reproductive problems, and liver and kidney disease.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of small gauge needles to various points on the body in order to cause physiological responses in the body. It can be especially useful in relieving pain. Acupuncture is used in China as a part of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM).

The practice of TCVM is an entire medical system which also includes food therapy, herbal prescription medications, massage therapy (known as "tui-na") and addressing emotional, behavioral, and home environmental issues.

Acupuncture works by stimulating nerve endings near acupuncture points. These nerve fibers then conduct impulses to the brain and spinal cord, causing changes in the body that speed healing. Animal owners are showing a growing interest in this field in an effort to find the best care for their pets, especially when conventional medicine and surgery options may not have been successful.

As with any medical treatment, successful veterinary acupuncture depends upon the training, knowledge and skill of the practitioner. Pet owners interested in acupuncture should ask their primary veterinarian for a referral to a well-qualified colleague. Both doctors should have the best interest of the pet as a priority.

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