HolisticalVets LLC's List of Possible Precautions and Contraindications

HolisticalVets LLC performed extensive research to formulate the following list of precautions and contraindications; however, it is with the understanding that this may not be an exhaustive list. HolisticalVets LLC will be sure to update the list below should we become aware of additional precautions and contraindications.

De-Qi response: One of the goals of acupuncture is the arrival of De-Qi, which is a sign that the treatment is effective. Animals will sometimes react to De-Qi by yawning, passing gas, flicking their ears, etc. Other times, the reaction may be vastly more pronounced and sudden (e.g., a horse suddenly kicking or jumping). Regardless of the type of response, it can last anywhere from 10-30 seconds and then the animal will resume relaxing.

While the arrival of De-Qi is always a good and wanted thing, the concern is if the response to De-Qi causes a secondary injury (e.g., a horse suddenly and unexpectedly kicking a stall door, hurting himself or herself or someone else); therefore, we recommend that animals larger than a dog be in a large and open space for treatment. Animals that are extremely weak or have neurological diseases are less likely to exhibit a pronounced response to De-Qi.

Dirty/wet haircoat: To minimize the risk of infection, HolisticalVets LLC is unable to perform acupuncture on pets with dirty or wet hair/fur. Please ensure that scheduled pets have clean and dry hair/fur for scheduled appointments (this does not apply to pets that do not have hair or fur).

Acupuncture treatment duration: Please be aware, for the purposes of acupuncture, the goal is not to insert as many needles into the body as possible during an appointment. Instead, the goal is to select one to ten plus key points that provide multiple benefits and are indicated for a pet’s diagnosis and treatment goals. Often, fewer needles will be used in the first few appointments to give the pet time to get used to acupuncture and over time, a pet will usually come to expect acupuncture when an appointment begins. Needles are then removed when a pet indicates that he or she is ready to end that day’s treatment. For pets that will happily enjoy acupuncture for hours on end, acupuncture needles are usually removed after 30 to 50 minutes. 

Pregnancy/Nursing: HolisticalVets LLC should be informed if there is any chance the scheduled pet is pregnant or lactating, as there are some acupressure/acupuncture points and herbs that must be avoided in pregnant and nursing animals.

Meals/Exercise: Appointments should not be scheduled less than 1 hour after meals and/or exercise, as the the scheduled pet’s body needs time to digest and rest prior to treatments. It is common for the pet to be tired, sleepy, or calm after a treatment and he or she should be allowed to rest (minimal to no physical activity) for the next 24-48 hours and food should not be given to the pet in the hour following treatment. A pet may seem sleepy, tired, or even worse 24-48 hours after a treatment, which is normal due to the body needing time to reset.

Competition: For pets undergoing herbal therapy, herbs should not be given for 7 days prior to any competitions.

Pigmented urine: Pets that receive Vitamin B12 may have discolored urine (e.g., pink, red, bright yellow, orange, etc.). This occurs when the kidneys excrete excess Vitamin B12 after the body absorbs what it needs.

Illness/disease and medical devices: HolisticalVets LLC should be informed if the scheduled pet has an illness or disease (e.g., heart disease, seizures, cancer or tumors, etc.) or a medical device (e.g., pacemaker).

End of life care: Acupuncture/acupressure can be used in end of life care, with the understanding that animals near death may improve temporarily with treatment but pass away shortly after.

Needles left behind after treatment: While every effort is made to collect all needles used during a treatment, occasionally a needle may be left behind either on the pet or in the environment after a treatment concludes. Should this occur, any found needles should be removed promptly and disposed of safely. Needles used in acupuncture are extremely thin and not hollow, so risk of injury is extremely rare.

Blood: Some forms of acupuncture use hemoacupuncture (where a hypodermic needle is inserted in certain acupoints) to draw and release blood. In other acupoints, a few drops of blood may be seen once an acupuncture needle is removed (this is also normal). If the amount of blood seen is concerning or unexpected, HolisticalVets LLC will recommend further workup at a full service veterinary facility to see if there is an underlying cause that may be contributing to the amount of blood seen. Please inform HolisticalVets LLC if the sight of blood is troublesome.

Moxibustion:  While this treatment modality is great for adding warmth to treatments when needed and great care is taken not to place the moxibustion stick directly onto a pet, please be aware that there is always a small risk for a pet’s haircoat to be singed or for ashes to fall onto skin/haircoat due to the moxibustion stick being in close proximity to the pet. In addition, certain types of moxibustion sticks, while considered more effective than their smokeless counterparts, produce smoke and a corresponding odor similar to that of marijuana. If moxibusion is indicated for your pet’s treatment, please inform HolisticalVets LLC if you prefer smokeless moxibustion be used instead. 

 Adverse reactions (e.g., allergic reaction, gastrointestinal upset, etc.): Regardless of how safe something is said to be, just like with humans, there is always a risk of an adverse reaction to food ingredients, herbs, medications, topical products, etc. If a pet experiences an adverse reaction, please stop administering the offending item and inform HolisticalVets LLC. If there is a serious adverse reaction (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea, facial swelling, difficulty breathing, etc.) please contact your primary conventional veterinarian or a veterinary emergency facility immediately.

Extremely rare, but possible, complications that can be seen with acupuncture:

  • Stuck needle: Usually easily removed once the affected area is massaged and the pet is walked for a few minutes to loosen muscles
  • Broken needle: Usually easily removed with forceps while the pet is held still
  • Swallowed needle: The needle usually passes on it own through the gastrointestinal system in 5-7 days while the pet is given a high fiber diet (x-rays at a full service veterinary facility are recommended to monitor the location of the needle)
  • Bruising/collection of blood under the skin: Usually resolves with pressure and cold compresses in 24-48 hours