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Veterinary Acupuncture for Pets

March 28, 2019

The rise of veterinary acupuncture and other alternative pet therapies

Natural and holistic pain relief methods for pets have become a topic of interest in the veterinary industry in recent years. After all, a happy pet makes for a happy vet. Just how effective are these methods when it comes to improving overall animal health? It turns out that alternative therapies like acupuncture provide some positive effects and health benefits for pets, and can be used in conjunction with more traditional treatment methods.

What does acupuncture do?

The roots of traditional Chinese medicine, including alternative therapies like acupuncture, can be traced back in time as some of the oldest medical procedures in history. Acupuncture involves inserting long, thin and sterile needles into specific points in the body to nourish the tissues and organs. The needles release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain which can lead to pain reduction and promote healing in both people and pets.

The field of acupuncture as practiced by many trained veterinarians today, along with other rehabilitation therapies like pet massage, is fairly recent. While a “spa day” for pets may seem like a modern-day luxury, these therapies are continuing to grow in esteem by veterinarians worldwide as a viable supplemental health treatment. Acupuncture can aid in treating and sometimes even diagnosing ailments and diseases in animals, providing a more holistic care experience for pet patients.

The benefits of veterinary acupuncture

Veterinary acupuncture can be used on all animal species, either in addition to or as an alternative to conventional treatments. Horses and cattle have been treated with acupuncture since ancient times. Today many dogs and cats receive acupuncture for common ailments and pain relief. It’s even been used to treat zoo animals including sea mammals and birds.

Acupuncture can be used to treat or reduce symptoms for a variety of health issues in animals including behavioral, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neurological, reproductive, respiratory, urinary and skin conditions. It’s been known to stimulate healing and help eliminate pain for animals with:

  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Diarrhea
  • Inflammation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Obesity
  • Pain and fatigue
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Tension and headaches

Types of acupuncture methods

Traditional acupuncture involves the use of dry needles, but there are additional methods that holistic veterinarians can use to promote even more effective treatment results for pet patients.

  • Electroacupuncture uses electrical stimulation at acupuncture points to provide a greater pain relief response
  • Aquapuncture involves the injection of a liquid at acupuncture points and is often used for pets who are unable to sit still for long periods of time
  • Acupressure is the application of pressure at acupuncture points to further release tension and discomfort

Acupuncture is safe for animals when it’s administered by a properly trained veterinarian. Most pets will feel no pain when the needles are inserted, and many will feel more relaxed or even sleepy during or after treatment. Do you have pet patients who could benefit from veterinary acupuncture? The American Veterinary Medical Association details the education, training and certification requirements needed to become a veterinary acupuncturist.



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