Pet Acupuncture with Lori Polkowski

For those who aren't familiar with Eastern medicine, does acupuncture really work?
It absolutely does! I work with a dog named Cash. He's a German shepherd with Myelopathy, which is like Lou Gehrig's disease for dogs. His spinal chord is deteriorating. There is nothing Western medicine can do for him. He came to me with no feeling in his body and unable to move. He left my office walking.
How does acupuncture work?
There is something called "Chi," which is the energy that flows through your body through specific channels in your body. Sometimes that flow gets blocked or depleted. The needles go through your skin into the muscles at certain points of the body. The needles improve the motion of the energy through those channels. Different points in your body affect other parts. For example, a needle in your leg can help improve the condition of one of your internal organs.
What ailments do most pet owners come to you for?
The number one thing owner come to me for is arthritis. Other ailments I have treated with acupuncture are spinal chord issues, paralysis, seizures, kidney disorders, and stomach problems.
Does Western medicine recognize acupuncture?
Yes! In the 1970s, it became prevalent and popular in the United States. There have been countless studies done attesting to the effectiveness of acupuncture. It is well documented.
What kind of needles do you use?
The needles we use are specific to acupuncture. You can't use just any needle. They come in different lengths and thicknesses depending on what your needs are.
How many needles do you need and how long does a session take?
It depends on the issue, but generally a session takes up to five minutes to insert the needles and up to 15 minutes for the needles to stay in your body before they are removed.
How long do the effects last?
It depends on the illness. Sometimes the effects last a month, sometimes days. If the dog has a fever or the flu, they are good to go usually in one session. Cash, for example, came to me once a week for 4 weeks and then once a month after that, but Cash has a much more debilitating ailment than a flu or a fever.
How much do sessions cost?
It's comparable to human sessions, between $70-$150.
Will dogs sit still for sessions?
Some will sit perfectly still. Some are a challenge. Some of the dogs love it, some of the dogs feel uncomfortable and I need an assistant to hold them while I insert the needles.
Are there any risks associated with animal acupuncture?
Not many. The needle could break under the skin. That is uncomfortable for the animal, but we treat it like we would a splinter and it's easily extracted. They do have to be watched until the needles come out. Some animals can swallow a needle, but it usually is not a big deal. It passes through the animal without a problem. On rare occasions, an animal has swallowed a needle and needed to be hospitalized, but we watch the animals very carefully to avoid just that.
How did you get certified for pet acupuncture?
First, you have to already be a veterinarian and then there is one year of certification courses.
Have you taken on this type of practice full time?
I left my old practice where I practiced Western Veterinary Medicine to work for California Animal Rehabilitation full time. We serve common domestic house pets and other animals like horses and bunnies. Rehab with physical therapy is excellent for all animals in addition to acupuncture. These animals can live longer and higher quality lives. The option is there if the pet owner wants to take advantage of it.
How do people find a pet acupuncturist?
It's easier and easier to find a pet acupuncturist. The practice is more and more popular. They do advertise online. Also, ask your vet and they can recommend someone they trust.
Follow Lori on Twitter @LoriThePetVet and find out more about the life changing work she is doing with California Animal Rehabilitation at and on

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