Medical Acupuncture

Call 803-731-9200 or email to schedule your pet’s myofascial evaluation and acupuncture care with Dr. Liz Cuttino

Medical acupuncture takes advantage of the biochemistry and neuroanatomy of the body to achieve a desired outcome.  What that means is that we can relieve muscle pain, decrease chronic or neurogenic pain, induce calming, and affect bloodflow and neurologic input to specific internal organs, among other things.


Who can benefit from acupuncture? 

Sick pets.  Animal athletes.  Geriatric pets (like my own “Rhythm”- if you have met me, you have probably heard about my sweet love!).  Cancer patients (for improvement of comfort and quality of life- acupuncture is NOT known to cure cancer).  Pets with lameness.  Pets with behavioral issues that could be caused by physical discomfort.  Surgical and post-surgical pets (did you know that acupuncture during surgery can reduce the amount of anesthetic agent required to keep a pet comfortable?).  And many others!  If you think your pet may be an acupuncture candidate, but are not certain, please contact us at 803-731-9200 or email

What species can benefit? 

Dr. Cuttino has performed acupuncture on dogs, cats, (non-venomous) snakes, chickens, and other creatures.  If you have a non-traditional species and would like acupuncture care, please contact us directly to see if we are able to help.

How can acupuncture treat such diverse symptoms, like cruciate disease (a common cause of acute lameness) and vomiting?

Dr. Cuttino is trained in both traditional acupuncture channels/point locations and the underlying medical basis for acupuncture.  Scientific research has shown us that the activation of nerve fibers in one area can cause activation of other neurologic processes in the brain.  Medical acupuncturists don’t just rely on knowledge of “which acupuncture points do what”, but also integrate extensive study of neurology and anatomy to achieve the desired neuromodulation.  This knowledge is ever-increasing as we pursue continued study of the ways a micro-stimulation, like an acupuncture needle, electrostimulation, and phototherapy (cold therapeutic laser) can change the function of the cellular processes- directly in the targeted tissue, as well as in distant tissue as nerves carry the impulses we stimulate.

Where’s the Chi?

If you are already familiar with acupuncture, whether human or animal, you may have noticed that so far, we have discussed neurologic function and anatomy- no mention of Chi in sight.

Some TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)-trained acupuncturists perform their work based on the concept of Chi (very loosely translated as “energy”) flowing through the body.  TCM practitioners teach the same points and channels (also called Meridians) as the ones utilized by Dr. Cuttino.  They call their approach “Traditional Chinese Medicine”.   This term refers to veterinary work done in the 1970’s attempting to transpose very effective ancient human acupuncture practices to veterinary anatomy.  Acupuncturists trained in this methodology commonly use things such as tongue color and pulse analysis to begin their assessment of a patient.

Medically trained acupuncturists (like Dr. Cuttino), just like Traditional Chinese Medicine trained acupuncturists, utilize identical point systems.  The difference is that medical acupuncturists strive to understand the scientific physiology of acupuncture beyond the traditionally accepted theory of “Chi”.  Instead of tongue color and pulses, our diagnostic tool is the detailed hands-on myofascial exam, combined with neurologic and orthopedic observations.  Also considered are any current history of bloodwork alterations, biopsies, radiographic evidence, and other medical clues into the current physical status of a patient.

Truly, in as much as “Chi” describes the flow of energy, Medical Acupuncture relies on the flow of electrical energy through neurons, chemical energy through neuromodulators and cytokines, and ATP- the energy unit of the cell- through local tissue modulation.

Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners utilize the language of “Chi” to describe the effects they achieve in the body.  Dr. Cuttino utilizes the language of Western Medicine and neuromuscular anatomy to describe the effects she modulates through acupuncture.  In the end, regardless of underlying language or theory, our Pets can benefit from comprehensive physical care that goes beyond drugs and vaccines to achieve a happier, more comfortable pet.

Acupuncture is an additional modality to improve our standard of care and patient outcomes- it is not the only tool in our tool belt.  Dr. Cuttino will be happy to see your pet and address your concerns.  Together, we can assess your pet’s needs and devise a comprehensive care program.  This could include pharmacology (medication), acupuncture, massage, rehabilitation exercises, behavior modification exercises, or other physical therapy modalities.

I would like to leave you, my fellow pet lover, with a quote that has driven my scientific interest into the nitty gritty details of physical medicine:

“Absent a [correct] diagnosis, medicine is poison, surgery is trauma, and alternative therapy is witchcraft” – Kent Allen, DVM

I am committed to reaching a higher standard of diagnostic excellence for the benefit of your pet through traditional Western medical diagnostics, the integration of the diagnostic myofascial exam, and examination of relevant acupuncture points.

For the love of our pets,

Liz Cuttino, DVM, cVMA

Contact us with questions or appointment requests

CLICK TO CALL: 803-731-9200  or email to schedule your pet’s myofascial evaluation and acupuncture care with Dr. Liz Cuttino