VETERINARY ACUPUNCTURE: Needles, Herbals and holistics, Oh My! Why veterinary acupuncture is not as scary as some owners may fear.


Needles are painful, right?! Well, the long and the short of it is, no.
When used in the context of acupuncture, the result can be relief.
Surprised? Well, animals don't lie and they can’t hold a poker face.
For the vast majority of patients, after the first needle is placed the
animal takes a deep breath, head lowers, small animals sometimes
lay down and anxiety melts away.

How does it work?

Acupuncture uses a thin, sterile needle to activate a specific point
on the body. This causes micro trauma at the acupuncture point
which induces a small, controlled inflammatory response. The
inflammation stimulates local blood flow and recruits hormones
and cells to initiate healing.
Needling helps return the nervous system to its "normal" level of
activity to decrease pain and/or restore basic body functions.
The effect is decreased pain, reduced anxiety, increased levels of
endorphins, and normalized autonomics (involuntary nervous
system that regulates all bodily activities).


What can it treat?

What can’t it treat might be the shorter answer! Used by traditional Chinese veterinary medical practitioners for over 3,000 years, the practice is well honed. Acupuncture seeks to correct the underlying imbalance. Old dog? Acupuncture is great for arthritis. Separation anxiety? Acupuncture may be the only real treatment option. Diabetes? Absolutely acupuncture helps. Herniated disk/ general pain? Incredible results, without the side effects. What can I expect? Your veterinary acupuncturist will first want a detailed history. I take this time to acquaint myself with the animal, time to get a feel for the animal’s demeanor (“constitution” in traditional Chinese medical terms). I check for local trigger points, if it is a horse, I used a needle cap to scan for diagnostic points. A good acupuncturist will always look at the tongue and feel for pulses. This gives additional information about the disease state/ imbalances occurring internally. From the history and exam, the acupuncturist chooses points to best elicit healing from the 2 animal. How long the problem has been going on is a good indicator of how many sessions will be needed to see results. Acupuncture has no side effects and is extremely safe in the hands of a certified veterinary acupuncturist. There are so many instances where conventional medicine fails to treat our animals adequately. Over-medication instigates a cascade of unwanted symptoms and ultimately our animals suffer. Acupuncture uses the animal’s own body for healing. And that is the best medicine of all.

Article written by Dr. Julie Vargas, DVM Dr. Vargas is a certified veterinary acupuncturist working in the Lexington, KY area. For more information visit Feel free to contact her with questions at 

Why go natural for your pet?

Here at Earth Dog Spa & Apawthecary, we aren't just focused on making your pet pretty, we want to see every pet that visits us benefit in some way. We LOVE using natural, plant based products as much as possible. After all, there are some pretty scary chemicals being used out there!  Did you know that many common pet food brands contain ingredients that are banned in most countries outside of the US? Scary! Many pet products contain so many ingredients that it would take all day to research the safety of the product as a whole, so we believe sticking to limited ingredient, plant based products is so much easier, and safer.

In the pet grooming industry, product safety is completely unregulated, which is why it's important to choose companies that are transparent with their ingredients and manufacturing. Dr. Jean Hofve, DMV, staff veterinarian at Only Natural Pet, describes the dangers of these scary ingredients in pet shampoos, saying that "The skin can absorb many of these chemicals, so they get into the blood and put a strain on the liver, which has to break them down, store them or eliminate them. Natural products that use mild ingredients — including safe herbs — are gentler on the skin and less likely to be absorbed and accumulated in the body". The skin being the largest organ, it is just as important to monitor what we put on our dog's bodies, as well as what we put inside. When choosing grooming products, look for safe ingredients like Melaleuca Oil (Tea Tree oi), Lavender, Yucca, Saponified oils of coconut or jojoba, Colloidal oatmeal, Aloe Vera, Rosemary or Lemongrass extracts. These ingredients are great for itchy skin, fleas, hot spots, dry and flaky skin, strengthening the coat and many more! 

In addition to being safe, many herbal remedies and supplements are multi-use. For example, Fish Oil is great for your pet's skin and coat, but it is also is a great anti-inflammatory, It will help with any condition that causes inflammation of the heart, kidneys, skin, and joints—such as arthritis. We see so many dogs that struggle with dry and itchy skin, and a lot of heavy shedders. We recommend fish oil especially for these issues, and it's easy to administer, it can be dropped over your pet's food! Some natural products may seem a little expensive, but not only are you using a natural oil to help treat your pet's dry skin for example, you are saving money by eliminating the need for other products to reduce inflammation or shedding. You can also feel good about what ingredients are being given to your pet, knowing that you are both safe from harmful ingredients!

We could seriously talk all day about how happy we are that we made the switch to natural, so feel free to come by and chat if you would like some more ideas of how to make the switch for your pet! Stay tuned for more blogs and some of our favorite pet product recipes!