Acupuncture is a healing art that has been used for centuries in animals and dates back to ancient China. The principals behind acupuncture can be a bit abstract and hard to understand, but modern research has proven it works. Acupuncture is used in animals for pain relief, gastro-intestinal issues, anti-inflammatory effects, and behavioral problems to name just a few of the things it can be used for.
So how does it work? Acupuncture involves stimulation of certain points along a meridian. Meridians are considered channels that energy known as Qi flows through. These meridians are all over the body. There are 14 meridians in animals. Along these meridians are acupoints where Qi gathers. Modern research has shown that when these acupoints are dissected out there is a large gathering of nerve endings and other vessels. When these acupoints are stimulated with a needle it causes endorphins (these make us feel happy, give you a rush, and can help with pain) to be released. The goal of acupuncture is to stimulate the acupoints, usually with a needle, and cause an endorphin release.
Now that we’re through the boring stuff, you probably want to know what to expect at a session. There are over 280 commonly used points in animals. Acupuncture sessions typically last about 45-60 minutes. How frequently they occur depends on the problem being treated and the animal. For a new problem it is recommended that 3-5 sessions are done to see if acupuncture is going to help that particular patient. Depending on the severity of the problem we may do a couple of sessions a week or every other week in the beginning. Most patients start out on an every other week schedule. After the initial series of appointments, follow-up can range from as needed to every 4-6 weeks depending on the problem and patient.
Acupuncture has been shown to be very effective in helping with arthritis in animals. It can also help with seizures, behavioral problems, skin problems, disc problems, vomiting diarrhea, constipation, asthma, amongst other problems. Acupuncture can be used alone or in combination with traditional medicine. Acupuncture should not be used for animals with infectious diseases, open wounds, or in pregnant animals.
Acupuncture doesn’t work for everything, but can be very beneficial in helping many pets with problems when used in combination with traditional medicine. Talk to your veterinarian to see if acupuncture may help your pet.