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Veterinary Medical Acupuncture

Dr. Brandon Gates is certified in Veterinary Medical Acupuncture to work on all species, including dogs, cats, horses, and farm animals.

Dr. Gates is a graduate of CuraCore’s Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians program through the PRIMA (Pain, Rehabilitation, Integrative Medicine Advantage) Academy which teaches medical acupuncture and laser therapy from a strictly science-based approach.


His mentor, Dr. Narda Robinson, is both a human physician and veterinarian and is the country’s leading authority on scientific integrative veterinary medicine. Dr. Robinson served as faculty in integrative medicine at the Colorado State University Center College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and has cultivated her expertise over 20 years of experience teaching, practicing, and researching topics such as medical acupuncture, medical massage, photomedicine, and botanical therapy.  She founded CURACORE in order to educate both human and veterinary medical professionals with the core knowledge and technical skill needed to practice integrative medicine safely, based on science.

What is veterinary medical acupuncture? 

Medical acupuncture is a therapeutic method that usually involves the insertion of fine, sterile needles. Modern medical practitioners developed medical acupuncture as an adaptation of Chinese acupuncture. Instead of relying on inexact metaphors to describe the body’s responses to treatment, we employ current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, all in keeping with evidence-based medicine.

Acupuncture is effective because many acupuncture points coincide with nerve bundles, myofascial planes, neurovascular bundles, and lymphatic vessels, all of which, when stimulated, can have both local and systemic effects on the body. There are a multitude of peer-reviewed, medical publications demonstrating the benefits of acupuncture – from paralysis in Dachshunds to back pain in horses to carpal tunnel syndrome in humans, the improvements noted after acupuncture therapies are widespread and well received. Even if your pet doesn’t suffer from significant pain or lameness issues, there can certainly be a place for acupuncture in his overall wellness plan.

Acupuncture is indicated for functional problems such as those that involve paralysis, noninfectious inflammation (such as allergies), and pain. For small animals, the following are some of the general conditions which may be treated with acupuncture:

  • Musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis, intervertebral disk disease, or traumatic nerve injury

  • Respiratory problems, such as feline asthma

  • Skin problems such as lick granulomas and allergic dermatitis

  • Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea

  • Selected reproductive problems

For large animals, acupuncture is again commonly used for functional problems. Some of the general conditions where it might be applied are the following:

  • Musculoskeletal problems such as sore backs or downer cow syndrome

  • Neurological problems such as facial paralysis

  • Skin problems such as allergic dermatitis

  • Respiratory problems such as heaves and “bleeders”

  • Gastrointestinal problems such as nonsurgical colic

  • Selected reproductive problems

In addition, regular acupuncture treatment can treat minor sports injuries as they occur and help to keep muscles and tendons resistant to injury. World-class professional and amateur athletes often use acupuncture as a routine part of their training. If your animals are involved in any athletic endeavor, such as racing, jumping, or showing, acupuncture can help them keep in top physical condition.

What to expect from an acupuncture session:


Once booking a consult, we thoroughly review all previous historical, physical, and diagnostic information as any other veterinary specialist would. This should include a complete list of all supplements and medications currently being given to your pet. Some of these may be prescribed by the referring veterinarian but the owner should also be encouraged to be all-inclusive when supplying this information for both the primary veterinarian and the acupuncturist. Each session then starts with a myofascial and orthopedic exmaination. After the examination is complete, we will provide a treatment plan tailored specificially for you pet and their current issues. We will also discuss a treatment schedule and outcome goals.

Patient Outcomes & Length of Treatment

A typical trial period of acupuncture involves a "start-up" routine of once or twice weekly treatments (twice-weekly is generally preferred) for a total of four sessions.  Patients that are likely to respond favorably to acupuncture usually do so within the first few treatments; however, at first the benefits may last only one to two days. The goal is to build a cumulative and longer-lasting effect by delivering frequent sessions at the outset. Once a satisfactory level of improvement occurs, we will increase the time interval between sessions to that which allows sustained improvement with the fewest treatments.

Chronic problems often require longer start-up times, and patients may need prolonged and perhaps lifelong maintenance (e.g., monthly) treatment for severe dysfunction. Acute illness or pain and swelling from recent trauma or surgery usually resolve more quickly-perhaps with only a few treatments.

Follow-up Communication

Initial follow-up treatments may be required in one to two weeks to continue the healing process. This is heavily dependent on the individual animal and their currrent issues. If improvement is noted then the follow-up visits may be spread out further. Acupuncture maintenance sessions may be recommended anywhere from once monthly to once every six months again depending on the individual animal and their issues. 

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