Dr. Holt and Dr. Stenstrom say they have witnessed a variety of conditions improve with the addition of acupuncture to the treatment regimen.

When a cow isn’t rebreeding as she should or is prolapsed; if a bull is losing semen quality or quantity; or if lameness is preventing a bull from doing his job, acupuncture can help, Dr. Stenstrom says.

Dr. Holt says he often performs acupuncture on bulls and heifers or cows for reproductive issues—male infertility, poor libido, decreased sperm production and injuries.

“I also do quite a bit of work on rodeo bulls for injuries, or for tune-ups before a performance,” he says. “It can also work well when wounds aren’t healing.”

Dr. Stenstrom says she most often provides acupuncture as treatment for musculoskeletal and pain issues.

“With dogs, I often treat for arthritis and terminal cancer pain alleviation,” she says. “For horses, it’s often for musculoskeletal issues and lameness. For our cattle, it’s often for scours in calves or reproductive problems in females or bulls.”

However, Dr. Holt says, acupuncture is not the end-all, be-all of medicine.

“It’s important to point out that this is a modality—it doesn’t cure everything,” he says. “But it’s something we can do in addition to our normal Western medicine and compliment the effects of traditional medicine.”

Dr. Stenstrom agrees.

“We can assist with Western medicine, and acupuncture isn’t something we will use wholly,” she says. “But we can integrate acupuncture to get the most benefit. It’s another tool for the toolbox.”

This tool is proving useful, they say.

Resounding Response

acupuncture on bull

Dr. Holt says when he was in private practice, the addition of acupuncture opened a new avenue of pain control, increased healing and overall health for his patients.

“We began to use acupuncture during spays and castrations, and to relieve anxiety, vomiting and diarrhea with patients,” he says. “We were able to reduce the amount of anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids we used on all species of animals. We are able to send our patients home on very little pain control. We are pain fanatics, and we watch pain closely.”

The majority of clients are pleased with the response they see in their animals, Dr. Holt says.

“Many are quite happy with it and see their animals’ response as quite good,” he says. “We have seen bulls with no libido go out and breed cows. And we have seen semen production increase.”

In the case of small animals, Dr. Stenstrom says, owners often notice subtle changes in their pets’ behavior after two or three treatments. Cats raid kitchen counters again, or dogs jump on owners’ beds—activity that had been halted due to pain.

“Horses are more dramatic,” Dr. Stenstrom says. “They are wonderful responders. After an initial treatment that can range from 30-45 minutes, many will walk out much more soundly than they came in. The vast majority get profound relief from acupuncture.”

Acupuncture typically isn’t a one time treatment. Often, Dr. Stenstrom says, benefits can be seen with multiple visits.

“Each animal will respond differently, but with multiple treatments, we can often get a return of function that we desire,” she says.

Animals often enjoy the procedure, sometimes becoming so relaxed they even fall asleep, Dr. Stenstrom says.

“You have to be gentle, but most of the time, animals are very accepting of the practice, once they know you’re not going to hurt them,” she says.

Also, the effects of neurochemical reactions last longer than pharmaceuticals, Dr. Stenstrom says.

“In the event of nerve injury, such as paralysis, acupuncture can reawaken the body and cause the signals to work again,” she says. “Many times, collateral circulation goes viscerally. It increases the blood flow to the tissues and reminds the body that something is happening.”

Not only can patients benefit, the veterinary practice can see advantages, as well.