Acupuncture - Making a Difference


Weasel - a doggy ambassador for veterinary acupuncture. She is owned by Jen Harrison of the ABVA.

Weasel was just a normal spaniel puppy - smart, adorable and a little bit crazy! However as she reached four months old and started to grow quickly, she began to look a little bit different. One of the bones in each of Weasel’s front legs - the ulna - had stopped growing and was changing the shape of her legs.

Pre Op   •   Post Op 


rad pre  rad posta



The bone running alongside the ulna - the radius - was being restricted and was starting to bow and curve, leading to a distortion of her wrist and elbow joints.  At the age of only five months, Weasel underwent x-rays and a CT scan and the extent of her problem was revealed. 

She already had a poorly formed elbow joint because of the problem with her bone growth and it was getting worse with every further millimetre that she grew.  She underwent a complicated procedure where a section of the ulna bone was removed from each leg to allow the radius to grow.


post op


Weasel took the whole process in her stride and came home two days later wondering what all the fuss was about.  This is where acupuncture started to play a role in Weasel’s treatment. Pain relief was vital following such a big operation and the usual painkillers and anti-inflammatories were upsetting her tummy. It wasn’t just her front legs that were sore, but her back and hind legs too due to the change in her posture and gait. Acupuncture was able to make her much more comfortable almost immediately.

Following her surgery, she was only allowed to walk slowly on the lead for nearly three months - not easy for such a young and bouncy puppy! She then had to go through an important process of rehabilitation where she had to regain lost muscle and learn how to walk normally again. Acupuncture played a huge role in this process - alongside physiotherapy and hydrotherapy - helping her to exercise without pain and catch up on all the things she had missed out on since the op.


weasel legs



The story doesn’t end there for Weasel. Although her operation was a great success in preventing further deformity during her growth, she is still left with some effects on her elbows and front feet.

She has severe elbow dysplasia in both elbows due to her early growth problems and this will affect her for the rest of her life. At the age of two, she suddenly became very lame on her left front leg and it was discovered that there was a small fragment of loose bone in her elbow joint causing her pain and discomfort. This was removed via arthroscopy (keyhole surgery of the joint) and although this provided a great deal of relief, it had become clear that Weasel would always be limited to some extent by her elbow function. She was already developing arthritis in these joints and this would progress over time. Although anti-inflammatories can be very safe in dogs, acupuncture has allowed her to be drug free for most of the time, therefore limiting the amount of medication she needs.

Weasel has acupuncture about every two weeks. For a dog who is usually never still, she seems to instantly relax and find the procedure very comfortable, usually falling asleep once all the needles are placed!  The needles are predominantly placed in her front legs, but also along her back and occasionally on the back legs too - she doesn’t mind at all.  The acupuncture helps to stimulate her body’s natural pain control mechanisms and helps to relax sore muscles that develop due to her unusual gait. It can be used alongside pain medications if she needs them and has no side effects at all for her.





Weasel is now a regular at the ABVA’s teaching courses for vets too! She goes along with Jen to help with the practical sessions, acting as a very willing subject for students to practice their palpation and acupuncture point-finding skills. As far as she’s concerned, it’s all good attention! She is also happy to have one of her normal treatments done as a demonstration for the students too, demonstrating beautifully how dogs can not only tolerate but really enjoy acupuncture treatment!!

So far, acupuncture has allowed her to live a much more normal life than she otherwise would and has reduced her requirement for medication too. She really has a spring in her step and loves to show off her crazy legs to anyone who would like to see. She’s a brave little dog, and deserves to be as happy as she can possibly be!


For pet owners who are interested in acupuncture for their pets

All of the current ABVA members are listed on an easy-to-use directory on:

ABVA website

Good Vet & Pet Guide

This gives pet owners the ability to find a veterinary acupuncturist in their area if their own vet does not provide it.  All members listed are currently members of the Association and have to have undergone a minimum level of training.  They are all happy to be contacted and to provide owners with the information that they need and treatment if appropriate.