Animal Acupuncture Vet
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"It is so rewarding to watch an animal calm down, relax, and begin to enjoy the effects of acupuncture on its system."


Working from a mobile clinic allows Dr. Shannon to treat your animal in its home environment, so that your companion is not traumatized by an alien environment. When Dr. Shannon comes to your home, she is able to observe your animal companion in its natural environment, and to make a thorough and complete assessment of all of the factors and conditions that may affect your pet's health and well-being. Phone and email consultations are also available in the areas of food therapy and herbal remedies.


In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), the initial exam begins with taking a thorough history. The practitioner takes into account the whole patient, as opposed to specific symptoms. The various factors can include the patient's personality, behavioral traits, the season, the interaction between the guardian and pet, and the quality of the pet's food, water and air. The physical exam includes the tongue, eye, ears, skin, hair, pulse and areas of sensitivity. The exam also includes a holistic observation of the animal's overall energy, including any other imbalances that may be observed. TCVM practitioners approach treatment with a recognition of the inherent uniqueness and individuality of each patient. In TCVM, each animal receives an individually tailored treatment protocol.


According to the American Veterinary Medical Association's guidelines, "Veterinary acupuncture and acutherapy are now considered an integral part of veterinary medicine." Acupuncture is used for applications ranging from sedation to pain management, and can be beneficial in conjunction with medication, surgery, or post-operative treatments. Animals seem to recognize instinctively the healing properties of acupuncture; the great majority of pets gladly accept the slender needles, and patients quickly welcome the practitioner's treatments.

The Chinese have used acupuncture to treat disease for over four-thousand years in both humans and animals. According to Chinese philosophy, disease is an imbalance of chi (energy) in the body, and acupuncture therapy is based on balancing the energy and correcting its flow. From the Western scientific point of view, endogenous opiates called endorphins are released through the needle or pressure stimulation of specific points. This inhibits pain perception in higher centers, along with pain transmission from the spinal cord. The endorphins control pain by causing blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood flow around joints and muscles, and promotes the delivery of nutrients and oxygen delivery to the targeted area.

Acupuncture is often used to treat chronic conditions ranging from arthritis, herniated discs and back pain to soft-tissue trauma. In conjunction with herbal remedies, it can be used to treat many types of chronic illnesses. Acupuncture has also been recognized as a method to reduce side effects from chemotherapy, and it is known to boost the immune system's ability to battle tumors.

The practice of acupuncture is based on the flow of energy in the body through conduits known as channels and meridians. These passageways are connected to each other and to the body's organs, glands, sense organs, and skin. If these energy conduits are blocked, the organism experiences a blockage in the flow of energy, which can lead to disease. Through the use of needles inserted into specific points along the channels and meridians, the energy flow can be re-established, restoring health to the area and to the body.

A majority of the most common acupuncture points contain a high number of blood vessels, lymphatic vessels and nerves. Modern research has shown that these specific points have a higher density of nerve endings, immune-cells, small arterioles and lymphatic vessels than the surrounding tissue. By stimulating these points, which can be located far from the site of symptoms, the veterinary acupuncturist can assist the animal's innate ability to heal itself by balancing the flow of chi (energy).


Part of the natural world, herbal therapy is used worldwide in different cultures around the world. Herbal (or botanical) medicine is one of the essential modalities of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. The Chinese Materia Medica lists over three thousand plant parts, animal parts, and minerals, all of which are used in the treatment of an immense variety of health conditions. The remedies have a long history of safety and efficacy—an herb must have five-hundred years of successful documented use before it can be included as a "Classic Remedy." Herbs are combined in formulas to improve their efficacy, and to offset any potential negative effects. These formulas have been formulated and modified and tested on potentially millions of people and animals. In TCVM, herbal therapy is used either in conjunction with acupuncture or by itself; herbal therapy can also complement or provide an alternative to Western treatments. Herbal formulas, along with herbs that are cooked with an animal's food, can be an important component of your companion's health regimen.


Food is an essential building block for an animal's overall health and well-being. In traditional Chinese philosophy, herbs and foods are closely related (a substance like ginger can be considered to belong to both categories). As with Chinese botanical medicines, different foods have different energies and affinities for different body systems. By adding or eliminating certain foods in a pet's diet, the body can be supported and healing achieved.

All animals need more whole-food nutrition, especially if they are elderly, have an acute or chronic illness or an immune disorder, or if they fall into any of these categories during their lives. A dog or cat consuming a natural diet based on seasonal foods appropriate for its age and condition will be healthier than an animal that does not ingest fresh foods. A whole-food diet promotes a stronger immune system, which makes the animal more resilient to acute or chronic illnesses.

A whole-food diet entails going beyond basic kibble, dry dog food or canned food, and adding fresh, organic foods to your companion's diet. But don't panic—this can actually be a surprisingly inexpensive way to supplement your animal's nutrition, and it doesn't have to consume vast amounts of your time. As one client said, "Preparing and cooking my dog's food brings me closer to my dog and his healing process, and I feel as though I am doing something positive and healthy for both of us."

Because raw foods can be difficult for senior or immune-compromised animals to digest, all foods should be cooked, preferably by boiling or steaming (fried or microwaved food should be avoided). Once it is in the animal's stomach, raw food still has to be heated by the body. For a weaker animal, this may be taxing on the stomach, making it more difficult to obtain nutrients (especially from vegetables and grains).

Similarly, even high-quality kibble is a processed food, and the body has to work harder to obtain quality nutrients from it. Although many dogs survive well on dry food, they can obtain more energetic food nutrition from fresh whole foods. Additionally, dry food can be dehydrating to the animal. And although canned food is easier to digest, it should still be supplemented with whole foods.

New foods should be added gradually to your animal's individually formulated diet. When it comes to cooking methods, steamed or boiled foods are the best (steaming retains the most nutrients, and it is also time-efficient). Organic meats, vegetables and grains are optimal for your pet's health. Once again, it is best to boil grains rather than baking them, but be aware that many dogs are allergic to all forms of corn and wheat because poor sources (especially for wheat) deliver high levels of fertilizer and pesticides to the consumer.

Vegetables should be lightly cooked, either steamed or prepared in broth. Preparing a soup is also a simple way for you to add prescribed healing herbs to your companion's diet. Here's a basic broth recipe: Combine 2-4 cups of water; chicken legs or thighs; beef or oxtail soup bones or cod; a quarter to one cup of grains; and veggies indicated for your pet's condition. Cook 1-3 hours and remove any chicken bones. Feed in small amounts three or more times a week.

Concerns about the vitamin content of meals can be addressed by adding a weight-appropriate vitamin supplement. For more information, or to schedule a food therapy consultation, email us at

Animal Acupuncture Vet :: Dr. Audrey Shannon, DVM

505.820.2617     P.O. Box 4941, Santa Fe, NM 87502

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