A Holistic Approach to Pet Care

Many people have heard about acupuncture, but few think of it as an option for treating their pets. Acupuncture has been used for many years to help treat both humans and pets in some ways that modern western medicine may not.  At times, the combination of eastern and western medicine is used to provide a well- rounded care plan that treats pet conditions from different angles. Dr. Pattie is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA) and works with clients and patients to come up with the best treatment plan for each individual case.

All patients at Aldie Vet are initially seen by one of our doctors for a thorough history and physical exam.  Recommendations will be made about various tests or procedures depending on the source and severity of the patient’s condition.  In other words, we would always pursue a conventional “Western” diagnosis.

However, in some cases we cannot find an underlying cause for illness, traditional medications are insufficient to resolve a chronic problem, there are adverse effects when using indicated medications, or finally the cost for pursuing the underlying diagnosis is prohibitive.  These are the cases which can benefit the most from holistic approaches.  It is important to realize the best results often come from an integrative approach between Western and Eastern modalities.

Today, the most frequent reasons for acupuncture referral among veterinarians are:

  • Musculoskeletal problems: back pain, arthritis/degenerative joint disease, muscle soreness
  • Neurological disorders: weakness and paralysis resulting from intervertebral disk trauma, spinal or nerve problems
  • Gastrointestinal conditions: diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease
  • Other chronic conditions not responding to conventional therapy, including (but by no means limited to): skin allergies and dermatitis, lick granulomas, epilepsy, respiratory conditions, hormonal imbalances, infertility, internal organ dysfunction
  • Prevention of disease and promotion of well-being, geriatric support, and performance enhancement.

Dr. Pattie will typically see patients for acupuncture with an initial workup as an hour-long appointment, which includes the first treatment.  This initial appointment is followed by a commitment to at least 3-5 once-weekly treatments which are 30-40 minutes long.  A single treatment may be enough for an acute condition.  A series of 3-10 treatments can resolve many chronic problems.  Some degenerative conditions may continue to need repeated treatments over time.  All acupuncture appointments are best seen on an outpatient basis with no other tests/grooming/etc. that same day.

If you are not sure if acupuncture is right for your pet, you can also schedule an abbreviated acupuncture consultation with Dr. Pattie to discuss the case, your goals, and suspected outcome specific to your pet.  If you decide to come back for the treatment series the cost of the consult will be deducted from the initial workup fee.


  1. What is acupuncture?   The insertion of very fine needles into specific predetermined points on the body to produce physiologic responses. Modern research shows that acupoints are located where there is a high density of nerves, immune cells, and small blood and lymphatic vessels.  As more studies are conducted, the mechanism of this ancient therapy will be better understood.
  2. Does it hurt?  95% of animal patients are comfortable with acupuncture therapy.  Some animals will even fall asleep during treatment.
  3. Is it safe? Acupuncture is very safe when administered by a qualified and certified practitioner.  There are also no negative side effects unlike many Western drugs.
  4. How do you know where to put the needles?  The points used vary according to the condition being treated.  Each point has specific actions when stimulated. When points are used in combination with other points, the results may be tailored to the specific problems being addressed.
  5. Are there other holistic modalities besides acupuncture?  Herbs, chiropractic, massage, diet, homeopathy, and various other forms of complementary medicine are available to veterinary patients.  Dr. Pattie is currently pursuing certification in herbology, but there are many other holistic veterinarians in our area whom we can refer to if indicated.