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Complementary Medicine

At Slade Veterinary Hospital, we offer a variety of complementary medicine procedures, including acupuncture, electroacupuncture, aquapuncture, and laser therapy; these serve to enhance western medicine, and when used in conjunction, can offer superior health outcomes for many pets.

Complementary medicine services are typically offered on Tuesday evenings with our very own Dr. Michael McGuill, a licensed veterinary acupuncturist, and his technician, Andrea. Be sure to visit his team page for more information!



The most common form of acupuncture uses sterile acupuncture needles, of various lengths, placed in specific acupuncture points to induce a healing response. Acupuncture points have specific actions when stimulated individually or in combination with other points. Acupuncture has been practiced by the Chinese on humans for as long as 3000 years, and on animals for at least 2000. After humans, acupuncture was first applied to horses, which held the highest status among animals. Here at Slade, we offer this practice to all dogs and cats for various ailments.

Acupuncture is highly recommended for the following conditions, although this is a partial list:

  • Musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis, intervertebral disc disease, back injuries, paralysis, etc.
  • Respiratory problems, such as feline asthma
  • Selective reproductive problems
  • Pain and anxiety

Most pets do not object to the use of acupuncture needles. Instead, they often become relaxed and even sleepy during treatment. For particularly sensitive animals, applying laser light to acupuncture points offers an excellent alternative. Other variations of acupuncture include electroacupuncture and aquapuncture. Electroacupuncture is a process where tiny electric currents are sent through pairs of acupuncture needles to aid in healing. The frequency and intensity of the electrical impulse being delivered can be adjusted based on the particular condition being treated. Aquapuncture is another variation, where hypodermic needles are used to inject a homeopathic solution into acupuncture points. All forms of acupuncture occur well below a pet’s pain threshold - this is one of the safest practices in medicine when administered by a properly trained veterinarian.

Scientists have several ideas about why acupuncture works, but Dr. McGuill paraphrases a National Health Institute (NIH) consensus statement about this. According to this statement, acupuncture points occur at neural vascular bundles, that is, collections of nerve endings, arteries and veins, lymph vessels, and mast cells – a type of white blood cell that helps wound healing and defends against infections. Stimulating the neural vascular bundles at acupuncture points with needles (or laser, electroacupuncture, or aquapuncture) affects nerve conduction, circulation, immune function, and lymph flow, resulting in quicker healing, less pain, greater mobility and, for many pets, a greatly improved quality of life.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Mike or Andrea to find out how acupuncture may benefit your pet. Please fill out our complementary medicine intake form if you are interested in signing up for a session.


Laser Therapy

Laser therapy helps pets with acute or chronic medical conditions experience more rapid healing by relieving pain, modifying inflammation, and increasing circulation to the affected area. Lasers magnify and focus light in the red and infrared spectrum. In laser therapy, this light penetrates into tissue. Studies have shown that therapeutic laser light actually attracts beneficial cells, such as nerve cells and other cells that assist in healing, to the light source, thus speeding the healing process.

Laser therapy is best indicated for pain or inflammation, such as cruciate tears, soft tissue injuries to the limbs, and chronic injuries.

The laser strengths used in our therapy do not damage tissue unless directed at the eyes for long time periods. This is also known as cold laser therapy. The type of machine we use at Slade Veterinary Hospital is a Class IIIb laser machine, with 500 mW (or one half of a Watt) of power, and it is much safer than Class IV lasers. Eye protection is not needed when using this machine.

Pictured: Andrea with Chili performing a laser treatement.