Acupuncture. It’s not just for us two-leggers anymore, or just for “hippies” or “New Age” people. Our four-legged friends are taking part in acupuncture also, and it is becoming more and more common.
Based on an ancient Chinese medical tradition, acupuncture is used to stimulate your body’s energy by inserting tiny needles into the skin along the meridian points. A dog has more than 150 acupuncture points on his body.
If you think acupuncture is just baloney, the American Veterinary Medical Association doesn’t think so. In 1998, the AVAM issued this guideline: “Veterinary acupuncture and acutherapy are considered an integral part of veterinary medicine. These techniques should be regarded as surgical and/or medical procedures under state veterinary practice acts.”(From Guidelines for Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine.)
What Can Acupuncture Do?
The American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture says that acupuncture can treat ailments ranging from hip dysplasia and chronic degenerative joint disease to respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurological, and urinary tract disorders.
Veterinarians in the United States have practiced acupuncture since the early 1970s. They say that more and more clients are asking for this procedure because pet owners want other treatments besides medication and surgery. Many veterinarians also say that it is becoming more accepted among the greater veterinary medical community.
Even Cats Get Acupuncture On TV
It is becoming so prevalent that I saw a cat experience acupuncture on TV (on the show Flipping Out, to be exact). In this case, the cat was a fan of it. He was hissing like crazy and trying to bite the woman that was trying to give him the treatment. She was able to put in a few needles while he was wriggling all over the table.
Amidst his apparent disdain for it, his owner said that he normally likes acupuncture and is fine during the sessions (I guess that day was just a “don’t touch me with a needle” day? I think every pet has that mood everyday.) He said that acupuncture helped with his cat’s congestion and overall made him feel better.
More Than Just For Cats And Dogs
Veterinarians most commonly use acupuncture on cats, dogs, cows and horses. They also can treat pets like birds, ferrets and rabbits.
Pet owners like Mary Morrison say that acupuncture has helped her pet. Her 16-year-old Border collie, Shadow, was diagnosed with kidney disease. She says that the acupuncture has not cured the disease or slowed down Shadow’s aging process, but it has helped alleviate his symptoms and discomfort. Morrison says that she is more interested in life and is more peppy than when she didn’t go through acupuncture.
Another acupuncture patient, Charlie, undergoes acupuncture to help with his allergies. Before his treatment, this dog was miserable and his skin was red and inflamed. His vet said that after his first session, he had improved by 90%. His owner says that he is now a happy and healthy dog due to his regular acupuncture sessions.
In general, it may take four to eight sessions to know if acupuncture therapy will be effective. Although a response could be seen even after the first treatment, and improvements often are noticed after the third. Treatments may last from 10 seconds to 30 minutes and may be recommended once or twice weekly.
On average, acupuncture sessions can cost about $60.
Risks With Acupuncture
According to Associated Content, about 10 percent of animals will not improve after acupuncture. Also this form of treatment should not be used on pregnant animals, animals using medication, and animals with high fevers. It also is not supposed to be used as an ailment for broken bones.
There also can be some side effects in pets that have acupuncture applied. Pets may experience excess energy or fatigue. They may have bruising or swelling at the needle insertion point. Sometimes symptoms may worsen for the first 24-48 hours after a treatment. Also on rare occasions, a needle can break in the skin. This may require surgery to be removed.
Although acupuncture has seemed to help many animals with their ailments and their pain, veterinarians do caution pet owners to not expect it to be a miracle cure; it is not a panacea.
Source: National Geographic, Associated Content, Santa Barbara Independent