What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is putting needles into specific points on the body to cause healing. This technique has been used in veterinary practices in China for over 3000 years to treat many types of ailments. They also use acupuncture as preventive medicine against things like founder and colic in horses.
Today, acupuncture is used all over the world and sometimes in conjunction with Western medicine. It can treat a wide variety of conditions in most species of animals. Modern veterinary acupuncturists use a combination of solid needles, hypodermic needles, bleeding needles, electricity, heat, massage and low power lasers. Acupuncture is not a cure for everything, but can work very well in some cases.
which conditions in Small Animals Use acupuncture?
Acupuncture is used mainly for problems such as paralysis, noninfectious inflammation (such as allergies), and pain. For small animals, the following are some of the general conditions which may by treated with acupuncture:
- Musculoskeletal problems, such as arthritis or vertebral disc pathology
- Skin problems, such as lick granuloma
- Respiratory problems, such and feline asthma
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea
- Select reproductive problems
Which Conditions in Large Animals Use Acupuncture?
For large animals, acupuncture is also 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
- Nervous system problems, such as facial nerve paralysis
- Skin problems, such as allergic dermatitis
- Respiratory problems
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Selected reproductive disorders
Regular acupuncture treatment can treat minor sports injuries 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 participate in athletic activity, such as racing, jumping, or showing, acupuncture can help them.
How does acupuncture work?
According to ancient Chinese medical philosophy, disease is an imbalance of energy. Acupuncture is believed to balance this energy and assist the body in healing.
In Western terms, acupuncture can assist the body to heal itself by physiological targeting. For example, acupuncture stimulates nerves, increase blood circulation, relieves muscle spasms, and releases hormones. One of these hormones is known as endorphins, which control pleasure. The other is called cortisol which is a natural steroid associated with stress. Many of acupuncture’s physiological effects have been studied but further research is needed to understand discover all of acupuncture’s proper use in veterinary medicine.
Is acupuncture painful?
For small animals acupuncture needles are basically painless. The larger needles for large animals may cause minor pain. In all animals, once the needles are in place, there should be no pain. Most animals relax and may even feel sleepy. Acupuncture treatment causes some sensation. The tingles, cramps, or numbness that occur in humans may be uncomfortable to some animals.
Is acupuncture safe for animals?
Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of treatment for animals, if administered properly by a trained veterinarian. Side effects of acupuncture are rare, but exist. An animal’s condition may seem worse up to 48 hours after a treatment. Other animals may become sleepy or lethargic for 24 hours after acupuncture. These effects are often followed by an improvement in the animal’s condition.
How long do treatments last and how often are they given?
The length and frequency of acupuncture treatments depends on the condition and the method of stimulation. The veterinary acupuncturist stimulates for 10 seconds to 30 minutes. A simple problem, such as a sprain, requires usually one treatment. Severe or chronic ailments need several or more treatments. If it’s necessary for multiple treatments then they usually begin intense.
Patients start with 1-3 treatments per week for 4-6 weeks. The patient achieves the maximum positive response normally after 4-8 treatments. Treatments slowly reduce and become farther apart. This is because symptoms stay away for a longer amount of time after repeat treatments. Animals with chronic conditions going to routine acupuncture only need 2-4 treatments per year.
How should I choose an acupuncturist for my animals?
Things you should look for in a veterinary acupuncturist:
- A veterinary acupuncturist must be a licensed veterinarian.
- Your veterinary acupuncturist should have formal training in the practice of acupuncture for animals. (The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society is the only accredited certification program.)
Important to Remember
Most countries consider veterinary acupuncture a surgical procedure. Only licensed veterinarians legally practice on animals. A veterinarian starts by diagnosing an animal’s health problem. After determining the benefits of acupuncture treatment, then the licensed vet uses acupuncture. Vets use acupuncture for a problem that doesn’t require chemical, surgical, or other intervention.
The American Veterinary Medical Association considers veterinary acupuncture a valid treatment. Ask your veterinarian about their training.