Aug 14 2018

Acupuncture Now Available at Don and Karen LaRocca Pet Wellness Center

At North Shore Animal League America we believe that a healthy pet is a happy pet. That’s why we urge all pet parents to ensure their beloved four-legged friend is always in good health by taking advantage of some of the cutting edge services we offer inside our Don and Karen LaRocca Pet Wellness Center. One of those exciting, new services is the addition of acupuncture.

 Acupuncture Session with Dr. Verdino

Acupunture is one modality of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). This practice has been performed in both animals and humans for thousands of years in China. The earliest veterinary acupuncture textbook dates back to 659 BC. Since then, acupuncture has been a part of the mainstream veterinary medical system in China. Acupuncture usually involves the insertion of thin sterile needles into discrete, specific points on the body in order to cause a therapeutic effect. It may also involve electrical stimulation, laser therapy or moxibustion. There are over 170 acupoints on domestic animals.

Safe, comforting acupuncture treatments can go a long way in treating patients with chronic pain and a variety of other conditions. It can be effective in treating:

  • Musculoskeletal problems—Muscle soreness, back pain, disc problems, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease
  • Gastrointestinal disorders—Diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, poor appetite
  • Neurological disorders—Seizure, weakness from chronic disc disease, radial nerve or facial paralysis
  • Chemotherapy—Minimizing side effects in cancer patients and promoting general well-being
  • Chronic conditions—Asthma, geriatric weakness, skin problems, immune system disorders, etc.

Here are a few frequently asked questions on the practice of acupuncture.

Is there scientific evidence to support acupuncture?
Modern research shows that acupoints are located in the areas where there is a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles, and lymphatic vessels. Most acupoints are motor points. A great number of studies indicate that the stimulation of acupoints induces the release of beta endorphins, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters. The US National Institutes of Health library ( has over 25,000 research papers regarding acupuncture and over 400 animal specific papers.

What is Qi?
Qi (pronounced “Chee”) is life force or vital energy. There are two contrasting forms of Qi: Yin and Yang. Yin energy tends to be cool, dark, still and moving downward. Yang energy tends to be warm, light, mobile, expanding and moving upward. Physiologically, Qi flows throughout the body all the time, maintaining a balance of Yin and Yang. When the flow of Qi is interrupted, imbalance develops and disease occurs. Pain is interpreted as a blockage of Qi. Acupuncture stimulation resolves this blockage, freeing the flow of Qi and enabling the body to heal itself. Homeostasis is restored when Yin and Yang are in balance.

Is acupuncture safe?
Yes! Acupuncture is a very safe procedure when administered by a trained practitioner. Very few adverse effects have been reported.

How long does each treatment take?
Each session may take between 20 and 30 minutes. The initial session (TCVM exam and consultation) takes about an hour.

How soon can I expect results?
Some results can be seen immediately, while others may take several treatments. Generally, a minimum of 3-5 treatments are needed for more chronic conditions before improvement will be seen.

How many treatments are necessary?
As in all medicine, this depends on the situation and treatments can be done daily, weekly, monthly or even further apart depending on the severity and chronicity of the condition.

Does acupuncture hurt?
Rarely! Acupuncture is not painful because acupuncture points are stimulated using very fine needles, almost as thin as a hair. Over 95% of patients are comfortable with acupuncture therapy. Due to the relaxation effect, some animals will fall asleep during treatment. Sedation should not be needed before acupuncture treatment.

Who is qualified to perform veterinary acupuncture?
Only licensed veterinarians are qualified to proactive veterinary acupuncture in most states in the USA. A veterinarian that is certified in veterinary acupuncture is highly recommended.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (516) 883-2000 or email us at

northshoreala |