Acupuncture may be defined as the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response. Each acupuncture point has specific actions when stimulated. This technique has been used in veterinary practice in China for thousands of years to treat many ailments. The Chinese also use acupuncture as preventative medicine. Acupuncture is used all around the world, either along or in conjunction with Western medicine, to treat a wide variety of conditions in every species of animal. Clinical research has been conducted showing positive results in the treatment of both animals and humans, and the use of acupuncture is increasing. Acupuncture will not cure every condition, but it can work very well when it is indicated.
For Which Conditions is Acupuncture Indicated?
- 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.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
In western medical terms, acupuncture can assist the body to heal itself by affecting certain physiological changes. For example, acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasm, and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body’s pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid). Although many of acupuncture’s physiological effects have been studied, many more are still unknown. Further research must be conducted to discover all of acupuncture’s effects and its proper uses in veterinary medicine.
Is Acupuncture Painful?
Is Acupuncture Safe for Animals?
How Can My Pet Benefit from Acupuncture?
How Safe is Acupuncture?
In general, acupuncture can be effectively combined with most conventional and alternative therapies. Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists have the comprehensive training, knowledge and skill to understand the interactions between different forms of treatment and to interpret the patient’s response to therapy.
The American Veterinary Medical Association considers veterinary acupuncture a valid modality within the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery.
How Should I Choose a Veterinary Acupuncturists for My Pet?
- Your veterinary acupuncturists must be a licensed veterinarian.
- Your veterinary acupuncturist should have formal training in the practice of veterinary acupuncture.
In most countries, states, and provinces, veterinary acupuncture is considered a surgical procedure that only licensed veterinarians may legally administer to animals. A veterinarian is in the best position to properly diagnose an animal’s health problem and then to determine whether the animal is likely to benefit from an acupuncture treatment, or whether its problem requires chemical, surgical, or no intervention.
Because of the differences in anatomy, and the potential for harm if the treatments are done incorrectly, only a properly trained veterinarian should perform acupuncture on animals. The proper training for a veterinarian would include an extensive post-doctoral educational program in veterinary acupuncture. The more your veterinarian knows about traditional Chinese philosophies and the western scientific basis for acupuncture the more you can be assured that your animals will be treated properly.