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Benefits of Acupuncture for Horses

Acupuncture is becoming a common supplement to traditional equine medicine. In today's post, you will find information about the benefits of acupuncture for horses and the conditions it is typically used for.


Acupuncture for Horse Health

Acupuncture has become an increasingly common method of addressing chronic pain and musculoskeletal disorders in horses. It has also shown potential in the treatment or management of other conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, anhidrosis (lack of sweat), uveitis (eye inflammation) and more.

What is equine acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a treatment method that originated in China over 3000 years ago. When your horse has acupuncture, the practitioner will place needles at specific points on the body known as acupoints. Acupoints are located where nerve bundles exit connective tissues near major blood vessels surrounded by small nerve bundles, at motor points (where nerves enter or exit the muscle), and at specific trigger points in muscles.

Typically recommended as a supplementary therapy, equine acupuncture has minimal side effects and can be used simultaneously with most drugs and conventional therapies.  If you are considering acupuncture for your equine partner, be sure to choose a licensed veterinary professional certified in acupuncture. 

What conditions can equine acupuncture be used to treat?

Acupuncture can be very effective in treating a variety of health conditions in horses including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Nerve injuries/paralysis
  • Lameness
  • Tendon injuries
  • Wound healing
  • Recurrent airway obstruction (“Heaves”)
  • Reproductive issues
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Muscle soreness
  • Back or neck pain
  • Laminitis (“Founder”)
  • Allergies
  • Non-surgical colic
  • Corneal ulcers and uveitis (eye inflammation) 
  • Seizures
  • Anhidrosis (lack of sweat)

What are the potential benefits of acupuncture for horses?

Acupuncture can be beneficial for your horse in a number of ways:

  • Better control of chronic diseases
  • Speed healing time
  • Manage or relieve pain (muscle soreness from rigorous training; post-trauma or post-operative pain)
  • Maintenance of performance level
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Normalize circulation
  • Achieve general wellness through preventive medicine

How is acupuncture performed on horses?

At the beginning of the acupuncture appointment, the practitioner will discuss your horse’s medical history with you and perform a physical exam including the palpation of acupoints. They will then choose which acupoints to address based on your horse's condition and the desired outcome.

There are a few different types of acupuncture and the types chosen will also depend on the goal of treatment. These include dry needling, in which small steel needles are used; aquapuncture, which involves injecting fluid into the acupoint; and electroacupuncture, which consists of electrical stimulation delivered through a dry needle attached to an electroacupuncture machine.

Following an acupuncture treatment, no downtime is required, but a 24-hour rest period may be recommended. The frequency of your horse's treatments and duration of acupuncture sessions will depend on the recovery of your horse and the intended outcome.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Our Gillette large animal vets have extensive experience caring for horses and ponies. Contact Red Hills Veterinary Hospital today to book an examination for your paddock pet or performance horse.

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Red Hills Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Gillette companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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