Using Acupuncture to Help Heal Your Pet

on July 31, 2009
Posted in Cats

Acupuncture originates from China around 4500 years ago where the very first case of acupuncture used on animals is recorded to have happened during the western Jin dynasty period of China from 136 to 265 A.D.

Although people are usually the recipient of an acupuncture session, pets are also able to benefit greatly. This healing modality quickly spread to other parts of the world and was first used by veterinarians in the USA during the early 1970’s.

Acupuncture is a natural healing technique that involves inserting a thin needle into specific points on the body to relieve pain in both large and small animals.

In reality it is believed that acupuncture enhances and restores the pet’s natural flow of qi energy in their body. Qi energy circulates along 12 pathways, or meridians, in the pet’s body. Every pathway is linked to an internal organ and its system. Very fine needles are then placed at certain points, called acupoints, along these pathways, in an attempt to stimulate the flow of qi energy. By doing so, the muscular, skeletal, hormonal and cardiovascular systems are all beneficially affected.

However, veterinarians and other acupuncture specialists in the western world explain that the body has about 365 main acupuncture points which are all located at little clusters of nerves and blood vessels. By stimulating these cluster points with the thin acupuncture needles, a host of local and general physiological effects are triggered within the pet’s body which, in effect, increases the pet’s own healing power within their body.

Unlike conventional medicine that is usually laden with pharmaceutical chemicals, acupuncture is a much safer and precise form of pain relief for pets that are suffering from a wide range of ailments, including allergies, hip dysplasia, paralysis, arthritis and respiratory problems.

In fact, acupuncture accelerates the release of neurotransmitters in the body such as endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killers, as well as small amounts of cortisal, which is an anti-inflammatory steroid.

Although acupuncture is most commonly given to cats, dogs and horses, any animal can benefit from acupuncture and so veterinarians have branched out to include ferrets, rabbits, hamsters, mice and parrots as well.

Besides pain relief, a few of the other benefits of acupuncture are an increase in blood cell production, an improved immune system, an increase in the animal’s range of motion, as well as an overall sense of relaxation.

Another great advantage of acupuncture on older pets is that it has been proven to increase their quality of life, especially concerning those pets that may have had to have been euthanized or placed on medication for the remainder of their lives.

Traditionally, needles that are as a thin as a human hair are used for acupuncture therapy, however, modern times call for more modern techniques and so now other variations of acupuncture are being used. A few of these techniques can incorporate the use of either low power laser beams or low electrical currents. Either of these techniques carries the same benefit of using the needles in an acupuncture therapy session.

Before turning to acupuncture for their pets, most pet owners have tried doing the conventional medication route without any success. Other pet owners just prefer to treat their pet without using harmful drugs or surgery of any kind and prefer their pet’s treatment to be as invasive as possible.

In an interview with the National Geographic News, a staff member of Colorado State University’s veterinary program, Narda Robinson, explained that:

“The more that veterinarians learn and accept acupuncture and some of the other complimentary [alternative] medical techniques, the safety of medical intervention for animals will be that much better.”

Most acupuncture treatments last between 10 seconds and 30 minutes depending on the ailment that the pet is being treated for. However, some pets will need to have between 4 and 6 treatment sessions before any real improvement will be noticed, although some pet owners do see instant improvements in the overall health of the pets after just one or two sessions.

Although some pets, and people too, will experience a little bit of pain when the thin acupuncture needles are first placed in the skin, the pain subsides very quickly and the majority of animals that are treated often fall asleep or become quite relaxed once the needles have all been placed in the right places across the body.

Veterinarian, Dr. Babette Gladstein, was quoted in the Long Island Press as saying:

“Acupuncture is one of the safest therapies available when practiced by a competent acupuncturist. Side effects are unusual. It balances the body’s healing system, no chemicals are administered, and complications rarely develop.”

Photo Credit: markhillary

Read also: A Tooth For A Tooth – Proper Pet Dental Care

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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