The doctors at Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice, In Home Euthanasia, and Integrative Medicine use pet acupuncture to help treat nausea and keep senior pets feeling good longer!

Layla is a 5 year old mixed breed dog and was very healthy until she turned 3 years old. Around that time she started intermittently vomiting. Initially she would vomit 1-2 times per month, but several months later she started vomiting at least once weekly. As Layla’s vomiting increased in frequency, her stool started to seem softer. Layla’s dad brought her to Dr. Goodvet for an evaluation. Dr. Goodvet preformed an exam which overall was normal. Dr. Goodvet preformed several diagnostic tests which included blood work, Urinalysis, Fecal and X-Rays. There were mild changes on the blood work, but overall the diagnostic tests did not reveal a specific cause for Layla’s vomiting. Dr. Goodvet discussed several more diagnostic tests that could be performed, which may allow her to find the underlying cause for Layla’s vomiting and treat her most appropriately. Layla’s dad wanted Layla to be happy and healthy, and decided to pursue further diagnostic testing. Layla was referred to an internal medicine specialist for further evaluation. At this initial consult a full examination was performed on Layla. The Internist discussed several disease processes that may be causing the vomiting. She also discussed further diagnostic tests that would help to make a diagnosis. Based on this discussion Layla’s dad scheduled a drop off appointment for gastrointestinal biopsies. Layla did great at that appointment! The biopsy results were available a week after that appointment, and Layla was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The Internist, Dr. Goodvet and Layla’s dad worked together in order to make a good plan. Layla’s diet was changed to support the inflammation in her gastrointestinal tract and she was also put on several oral medications. Initially Layla had a great response to her diet change and medications. Her vomiting stopped and her stool stayed consistently normal. Layla’s dad made sure to take Layla to all of her follow up visits with both the Internist and Dr. Goodvet. When Layla turned 7 (Approximately 2 years after she was initially diagnosed with IBD), she started to have intermittent vomiting and loose stool. Layla’s dad pursued further testing with the Internal medicine specialist, and luckily no cancer was found at that time! The Internist recommended several changes with Layla’s current oral medications. After changing the medications, Layla’s stool improved, but she still continued to intermittently vomit, at least 2-3 times monthly. Dr. Goodvet had mentioned that sometimes acupuncture in combination with diet and oral medications, can be helpful for pets that have been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Dr. Goodvet said that there are several Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist’s located nearby.

Can Acupuncture be used in combination with Layla’s diet and oral medications, to help control her inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

Yes!!! Acupuncture is safe to be used in combination with oral medications and therapeutic diets. In some pets acupuncture may have such a positive response, that the amount of oral medication needed can be significantly reduced. Dr. Goodvet, the Internist and the Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist would all work together with Layla’s dad to make the best plan to keep her happy and healthy!

Since Layla was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) would the needles have to be deeply inserted and would there be any pain during the acupuncture session?

No! Acupuncture needles are a similar diameter to a strand of hair. The Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists goal is to insert the needle pain free! Most times pets are unaware that a needle is being inserted. Based on the nerve supply throughout the body, a needle on Layla’s neck, back or limbs can have a positive impact on her gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, the needles will not need to be inserted deeply or in any sensitive areas.

I have heard of Bands that can be worn on people’s wrist for motion sickness. Does this have something to do with acupuncture? Can this help Layla’s vomiting?

These bands are applying pressure, also called acupressure, on a traditional Chinese acupuncture point called Pericardial 6 (PC 6), which helps with nausea in pets too.

Those bands are related to acupuncture! Those bands are applying pressure, also called acupressure, on a traditional Chinese acupuncture point called Pericardial 6 (PC 6). In traditional Chinese medicine there are 12 main channels that cross throughout the body, and there are 8 “extraordinary channels”. The Pericardial channel is one of the 12 main channels. A large amount of research has been performed on this specific point (PC 6) which has shown that placing a needle or pressure at this location, releases signals to the brain that can reduce or eliminate the feeling of nausea. On Layla’s initial consult with a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, her history will be re discussed and a full exam will be performed. The Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist may ask several non-traditional questions, such as “Does Layla prefer laying in the sun or the shade?” or “Does Layla frequently dream?” These types of questions, allow a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist to make a Chinese diagnosis. The Western diagnosis (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) and the Chinese diagnosis, will allow the Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist to choose acupuncture points that will address both Layla’s underlying disease process (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) and the secondary clinical signs (vomiting and loose stool). So Pericardial 6 (PC 6) may be an important point to incorporate in Layla’s acupuncture session!!

If acupuncture is going to be effective, how quickly could we see a response?

At the initial consult the Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist will be able to make a good plan on how often acupuncture should initially be performed and when we will likely see a response. Based on Layla’s history, we could see improvement anywhere between 1-6 weeks.

Are there any Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists in Hampton Roads that would be able to evaluate Layla? Are there any Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist’s near me?

Yes! Dr. Tyler Carmack, Dr. Jeanette Schacher, and Dr. Sharon Cubelo are all Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists. The doctors at Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice & Integrative Medicine are able to come to your home! At the initial consult, the veterinarian will discuss the current history and concerns, they will perform a full western and eastern examination. After discussing their recommendations and expectations for Layla, they will make an acupuncture plan. The first acupuncture session will occur at the end of the initial consult!


If you have a pet you think would benefit from an integrative medicine and acupuncture consultation, please contact Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice, In-Home Euthanasia, and Integrative Medicine at 757-474-5968.


Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice

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