Acupuncture has been around for centuries, at least in China. In the Western world, acupuncture is considered a newer, alternative form of treatment. Some insurance companies have realized the many benefits of the treatment and even cover the costs of acupuncture for human patients.
What to Expect from Pet Acupuncture
An expert trained in veterinary acupuncture lightly inserts tiny, sterile needles into specific spots where nerves and blood vessels convene (also known as acupuncture points) to activate the balance of energy throughout your pet’s body. Ultimately, acupuncture helps the body heal itself. The animal may feel brief, mild discomfort with the needle insertion (laser options, instead of needles, exist in certain cases). Overall, acupuncture is a safe procedure, and more often than not, the animal gets very sleepy or falls asleep. Many practitioners, pet owners, and (human) patients rave about the calming effects. Yet, still not everyone finds the anecdotal evidence convincing or the use of needles reassuring.
Pet acupuncture is gaining momentum in the veterinary community as a viable form of relief for animals of all types, from dogs and cats to zebras. The benefits of pet acupuncture outweigh the very few cons, which mostly include trepidation about the unknown. Acupuncture works best when treatments are consistent and frequent, upfront with fewer maintenance treatments down the line. Plus, acupuncture does not interfere with any of your pet’s current medications. Even though many reasons exist, four are outlined below to show how acupuncture can help, not harm, your furry friend.
Reduces Physical Pain
If your pet suffers from physical pain, whether from a chronic condition, degenerative joint disease, muscle soreness from overactive behaviors, an injury involving the nerves or the musculoskeletal system, or post-surgery healing, acupuncture can reduce inflammation and provide an effective complement to physical therapy, herbal supplements, and pain medication. Additionally, if your pet is undergoing chemotherapy, acupuncture can minimize the uncomfortable side effects, so your pet can fight off the cancer. Even the American Animal Hospital Organization acknowledges acupuncture as a complementary treatment for an animal’s pain management.
Calms the Nerves
If your pet has behavioral or anxiety problems, acupuncture has been shown to relax the nervous system. Acupuncture, along with regimented training and other forms of treatment, can have a calming effect on your pet’s mental state. After an acupuncture session, you can more easily work with your pet on situations that trigger anxiety and behavior issues.
Since acupuncture increases circulation and blood flow, it is a natural choice for animals suffering from regular bouts of diarrhea and nausea.
If your animal suffers from respiratory ailments, including asthma and allergies, acupuncture can provide an anti-inflammatory and immune-relaxing response.
Other reasons for acupuncture include skin irritations, serious illnesses like kidney and liver failure and others that require palliative care, and preventative treatment to maintain good overall health.
Is Acupuncture Right for My Pet?
If you are still uncertain about the positive impact of acupuncture, talk to your vet about your concerns. He or she can run tests if the source of your pet’s discomfort or health issue is unknown. If your vet deems acupuncture a reasonable treatment plan on its own or in conjunction with Western medicine but is not certified in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM), then ask for a recommendation for a vet who is. It might even benefit you to set up an acupuncture treatment for yourself, so you can experience firsthand what your pet is likely to experience. Keep in mind that pet acupuncture is not a cure for any disease or condition, but it can change your pet’s life for the better.