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The initial integrative appointment typically takes 60-90 minutes. During this time, we will discuss your concerns, evaluate your pet, perform any Western diagnostics that may be indicated, and perform the first treatment. 

Your appointment will take place in one of our two acupuncture rooms. These rooms are set up differently than our regular exam rooms with the goal of relaxing both you and your pet. Energy is very important in acupuncture therapy, so we try to make sure everyone is relaxed. We will use food to help keep your pet happy and relaxed. 

While your pet is getting comfortable in the room, we will discuss your main concerns and goals of treatment. We will then talk about your pet’s history. Some of these questions may seem a little different than what you are used to. Because Eastern medicine considers the body as a whole, we need to know about your pet’s diet, temperature preferences, and overall personality. 

Once everyone is relaxed and we have an idea of our goals and your pet’s background, we will start our exam. First, I will look at your pet using the traditional Western physical exam. Next I will perform a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) exam. Because we practice integrative medicine, we will utilize all diagnostics and treatment options that we have available. In order to give your pet the best care possible, it may be necessary to take x-rays, check bloodwork, or perform other Western diagnostics. 

In TCVM, pattern diagnosis is the key to treatment. Determining your pet’s pattern of imbalance is more important to effective treatment than a traditional disease label such as “arthritis.” Many pets will have more than one pattern, so it may take several treatments to fully restore balance. 

Once we have a diagnosis, we will come up with a treatment plan and point prescription for your pet. There are several different ways we can use acupuncture to treat your pet. The specific method will be selected based on your pet’s tolerance level, disease process, and your goals. 

  • Dry Needles: this involves placing acupuncture needles (tiny, sterile, metal needles) into carefully chosen acupuncture points. Needles will stay in place anywhere from 5-20 minutes. 
  • Aquapuncture: vitamin B-12 or saline is injected into specific acupuncture points using a tiny hypodermic needle. While the treatment only takes a few minutes, the B-12 or saline stimulates the points for a longer period of time than dry needling.
  • Moxabustion: a technique that uses a specific herb to warm acupuncture points. Moxa has a strong smell that can be irritating to some people.
  • Electroacupuncture: needles are placed in the selected acupuncture points and wires are attached. An electrical current runs through these points to stimulate the muscles and facilitate movement of blood / energy. Electroacupuncture takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes and is a very strong form of stimulation.
  • Laser Acupuncture: a Class IV laser is used to stimulate acupuncture points. We can use the laser therapy in animals that are too sensitive for needles. 

Each pet responds differently to acupuncture therapy. Many owners will see effects immediately. This can mean either an improvement, worsening in symptoms for approximately 48 hours followed by improvement, or increased or decreased energy for the first day after treatment. If your pet seems sore initially, it’s ok- this means energy and blood is moving. If no observable effects are noticed, it doesn’t mean the treatment isn’t working. Some animals take several treatment sessions to show improvement. 

We ask you to mentally commit to 3-6 treatments depending on the severity of your pet’s condition and our goals of therapy. Follow up appointments will be shorter (anywhere from 40-60 minutes) depending on the therapy your pet requires. 

In addition to acupuncture treatment, we may make recommendations for diet changes, changes you can make at home, and/or “homework” of specific massage techniques called Tui-Na. All of these recommendations are in line with the idea of balance and wholeness. Traditional Chinese Herbs or Western drugs may be prescribed to help supplement your pet’s acupuncture therapy. 

Please call 614.389.6455 or schedule online at to set up an integrative exam with Dr. Emily Falk.

Emily Falk, DVM