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Acu in practice: uses for ER patients

Welcome to Acu in Practice! I’m posting live from the Western Veterinary Conference (WVC) in Las Vegas. My inspiration for this week’s post comes from conversations I have had with multiple critical care/ER vets who have stopped by the booth. They were surprised to learn that acupuncture can be used quickly and efficiently in ER situations in order to improve the patient’s condition. From the medical standpoint, ER patients presenting with pain, trauma, shock, GI disturbances, cystitis/urinary blockage, cardiac arrhythmias and respiratory difficulty can benefit greatly from the placement of only a few needles. From the logistical standpoint, acupuncture can be performed efficiently in the treatment room and included in the general treatment plan for the pet. Here are some example acupuncture points that are used in various ER situations:


Resuscitation and shock – GV 26, KID 1

Pain: points that are local or distal on the Channel where pain or injury is present, LIV 3 with LI 4 – general pain, known as the four gates.

Disc disease/IVDD acute: GV 14, Lumbar BH, Bladder channel points associated with the inflamed or ruptured disc. Du Mai - SI 3 with BL 62.

GI syndromes including pancreatitis, gastroenteritis, and post op for GDV and foreign body surgery: BL 20, BL 21, SP 6, ST 36, PC 6, LIV 13

Cardiac conditions: PC 6, HT 7, CV 16, BL 14, BL 15

Respiratory disturbance: BL 13, CV 17, CV 22, LU 7 and/or 9, Yin Tang (specific for sinus congestion)

Cystitis/urinary blockage – Lumbar Ba Hui, BL 26, BL 28

General calming for stressed patients: GV 20, GV 14, Lumbar Ba Hui.


These points are utilized for immediate stabilization, most often in conjunction with conventional diagnostics and treatment. For follow up care in cases of chronic disease the patients can be referred a local veterinary acupuncturist working in the general practice or in-home setting.


This post was created by Nell Ostermeier, DVM, CVA, FAAVA and is intended for informational use, not to replace veterinary medical advice.