Acupuncture has been used as a healing method for humans and animals alike for thousands of years. Although it’t not exactly clear how or why it works, numerous studies have proven that acupuncture can be very beneficial to those that receive treatments. Acupressure and acupuncture are practices with similar goals, but different methods of practice. Both involve the insertion of needles into specific locations on the body in order to relieve pain and discomfort from various ailments. However, because cats and dogs cannot communicate with us as humans can, we must learn about their bodies in other ways. They cannot tell us where they are hurting or what areas feel good when pressed. Instead, we must observe their actions and behaviors to determine what will help them heal more quickly.
What is Acupuncture?
Although there are many variations of acupuncture, the most common description is the insertion of needles into specific locations on the body in order to relieve pain and discomfort from various ailments. It is believed that these needles cause the body to release certain chemicals and hormones that help the body heal itself. The points that are typically inserted are those that are believed to be connected to internal organs and bodily functions. These points are also known as “meridians”, and each meridian has its own associated disease that can be treated by acupuncture. For example, people who suffer from chronic pain may have a meridian imbalance in their muscles or nerves. This is often treated with acupuncture.
How Does Acupuncture Help Animals?
Many of the benefits of acupuncture for humans can be applied to animals as well. It can help to regulate and strengthen the immune system, which can be especially helpful during stressful times like cold and flu season. It can also help to reduce the effects of chronic pain, anxiety, and stress. Other benefits include increased blood and lymph flow, reduction of swelling, relaxation, and improved sleep quality. As for how it works for animals, we know that acupuncture releases certain chemicals and hormones that normalize the body and that it also increases blood flow to the places where the needles are placed, which could be beneficial for things like inflammation.
Canine Conditions that Benefit from Acupuncture
There are many canine conditions that can benefit from acupuncture, from the common cold to more serious things like arthritis and joint pain. Some veterinarians believe that acupuncture can also be helpful for things like allergies and gastrointestinal issues. Even if acupuncture doesn’t do everything listed, it can still be very helpful in reducing pain and discomfort, which can make things like mobility a lot easier. A few of the most common conditions that veterinarians will treat with acupuncture include:
- Arthritis: Whether diagnosed or in its early stages, arthritis is painful and can make mobility difficult.
- Back Pain: Dogs that are older or have been through a stressful period in their lives are more susceptible to back pain.
- Cancer: While not a cure, acupuncture can help with the side effects that come with cancer, including pain and nausea/vomiting.
- Diabetic Complications: Dogs diagnosed with diabetes have to have a strict, but healthy, diet. This could lead to problems like kidney disease, which acupuncture can help with.
- Ear Infections: When a dog’s ears get infected, they can be very painful. This can happen due to allergies, parasites, or even water getting inside the ears after a bath or swim.
Valley veterinarian uses acupuncture to heal when other treatments fail
Feline Conditions that Benefit from Acupuncture
- Arthritis: Cats that have mobility issues due to arthritis can also benefit from acupuncture.
- Cancer: Cats are also susceptible to cancer, though they are less likely to get it. Acupuncture can help with the effects of cancer and assist with pain reduction.
- Diabetes: Cats can also suffer from diabetes, and acupuncture can be beneficial for managing the symptoms and side effects.
- Ear Infections: Ears are a place where infections can easily occur. Acupuncture can help with ear infections as well as other issues that affect the ears, like mites or allergies. - FIV and FeLV - Acupuncture has been seen to help cats with these viruses. However, it is not a cure.
- Joint Pain: Cats are more likely than dogs to suffer from joint pain and arthritis.
- Urinary Tract Infections: UTIs are very common in cats, especially those who are spayed or neutered.
- Weight Loss: Some veterinarians also recommend acupuncture for cats who are trying to lose weight.
Pros of Veterinary Acupuncture
- Reduces Pain and Discomfort: One of the biggest benefits of acupuncture is that it helps to reduce pain and discomfort in a variety of conditions. This can make it easier to treat diseases that cause discomfort and make daily activities easier.
- Increases Longevity: Another benefit of acupuncture is that it can help to increase longevity, which can be especially helpful for older pets. This can help to reduce the number of medications that are necessary and can help to keep them from having to go to the vet as often.
- Helps Build Stronger Immune Systems: Acupuncture can also help to build stronger immune systems. This can help to prevent the spread of diseases between animals and can make it easier to treat the ones that are already present. This can be especially helpful during cold and flu season when lots of people are around and can be passed on to your pets.
Cons of Veterinary Acupuncture
- There Are No Guarantees: One thing to keep in mind is that acupuncture is not a cure. It is more of a treatment that can be used in combination with other medications to help your pet feel better.
- It Is Expensive: Another thing to keep in mind is that acupuncture is not cheap. While it can be beneficial, it can also be expensive. The recommended frequency of treatments differs depending on the condition you are trying to treat. It is usually about once a week for about 10 weeks.
- No Side Effects: One thing that you want to keep in mind is that acupuncture does not come with side effects. This is important because medications often come with side effects that can be harmful to your pet. Acupuncture is instead believed to have a healing effect.
Veterinary acupuncture is a great way to help your pet feel better and live a longer, healthier life. Depending on the condition being treated, acupuncture can help to reduce pain and discomfort, increase blood flow to the affected areas, and even build a stronger immune system. Whether your pet is suffering from joint pain or an ear infection, acupuncture can help. So don’t hesitate to talk to a veterinarian about the benefits of veterinary acupuncture.