Acupuncture as Pain Management for Pets

Image of dog getting acupuncture.

If your pet is suffering from pain or another illness but not responding to traditional veterinary care, veterinary acupuncture may be an effective treatment option. Veterinary acupuncture is very similar to the type of acupuncture used to treat humans. Long, thin needles are inserted at specific pressure points along an animal’s body to alleviate pain and stimulate the central nervous system. Typically, only a certified veterinary acupuncturist may administer acupuncture treatments for animals.

Veterinary acupuncture has its roots in traditional Eastern medicine. According to Chinese philosophy, the “chi” (a body’s energy) travels through energy pathways, known as meridians. A blockage or obstruction in these pathways affects the chi’s ability to travel through the body. Contemporary medicine recognizes that the concept of the “chi” is very similar to our understanding of the central nervous system. Stimulating different points along the central nervous system stimulates the release of chemicals in the muscles, brain, and spinal cord. These chemicals affect the brain’s perception of pain and stimulate the release of other chemical mediators to improve organ function.

Studies suggest that veterinary acupuncture may be beneficial for a variety of animal species, including dogs, cats and horses. In fact, Chinese and Korean farmers have treated horses and cattle with acupuncture for centuries. In recent years, the applications for veterinary acupuncture have expanded to include zoo animals, small mammals, and pet birds.

Veterinary acupuncture treatments are generally well tolerated by pets as these treatments are gentle and safe. In fact, some pets even fall asleep during treatment because they enter such a peaceful, relaxed state! Treatment sessions typically last between 15 and 20 minutes; a series of five to 10 sessions may be necessary to address a pet’s health condition.

When a pet is suffering from pain, it can be a very frustrating experience for pet owners if they are unable to do anything directly to alleviate this pain. If a pet is not responding to conventional anti-inflammatory medication or other pain medications, then acupuncture may be able to help.

In addition to pain management, veterinary acupuncture is also beneficial for treating the following conditions: (1) disorders of the musculoskeletal system such as arthritis, (2) paralysis of the rear limbs, (3) seizures, (4) back pain, (5) facial nerve paralysis.

Source:

American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture. “What Is Animal Acupuncture?”

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