Acupuncture For Pets: An Introduction by Carlye Rose, DVM, Canine Health Institute
Acupuncture, developed by the ancient Chinese, in simplest terms consists of stimulating designated and precise points on the surface of the body by the insertion of fine solid needles. Other methods of acupuncture include acupressure, moxibustion (use of heat), electroacupuncture (use of electrical stimulation), aquapuncture (use of fluid), and low power laser acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM, there is understood to be a universal energy called Qi present in every living creature. This energy circulates throughout the body, 24 hours a day. Two primary opposing forms of Qi, Yin and Yang, are present, maintaining balance in the body. Qi flows along specific pathways in the body called meridians. As long as this energy flows freely throughout the meridians, health is maintained. However, if the flow of energy is blocked, the balance of Yin and Yang will be lost, causing pain and disease to occur. Pain is interpreted as blockage of Qi; disease is due to imbalances of Qi. By stimulating certain points on the meridians, acupuncture normalizes the flow of Qi, thereby resolving any blockage, deficiency, or excess. This then restores balance and normal functions of the body.
Veterinary acupuncture is a healing science which deals with the whole animal as a living being, rather than simply as a collection of signs and symptoms. The animal’s body, mind, spirit, and environment are assessed together to obtain a diagnosis and treatment plan. Thus, effective veterinary acupuncture practice is based upon both the natural and scientific aspects of healing. The training of a veterinary acupuncturist includes both Eastern and Western medical methods, and most veterinary acupuncturists integrate TCM into their traditional medical practice. In Texas, only licensed veterinarians may perform acupuncture for the care and medical treatment of animals. Most qualified veterinarians who practice acupuncture have undergone rigorous, extensive training to become certified in veterinary acupuncture at an institute or a university.
Acupuncture is a useful and important therapy for a wide variety of veterinary medical disorders. Treatment is tailored to each individual pet’s needs and imbalances. Veterinary conditions considered responsive to acupuncture treatment include the following:
· Pain (back, neck, joint, or soft tissue; post-operative pain management)
· Musculoskeletal problems (arthritis, muscle/tendon/ligament injuries)
· Neurologic disorders (seizures, peripheral neuropathies, intervertebral disc disease)
· Gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, anorexia, inflammatory bowel disease)
· Other chronic diseases (asthma, bronchitis, eye inflammation, endocrine disorders, infertility, skin disorders, kidney disease, vestibular disease, cancer)
· Performance enhancement (agility, hunting, etc)
For many conditions, acupuncture is utilized with other Western therapies (rehabilitation) and other TCM therapies (herbs, diet) to achieve the optimum result. While every animal reacts differently, approximately 90% of animals will have a good to excellent response to acupuncture therapy. If you think your pet is a candidate for acupuncture, consult with your veterinarian.