For most people, acupuncture conjures up either a peaceful spa day, or a mysterious smokey room and someone with way too many needles in their face. What people don’t realize is that acupuncture is actually, primarily a Chinese medical treatment, and one that has been used successfully for thousands of years. Almost as long as it has been helping humans, their valuable horses have also been treated. Our household dogs and cats are a more recent addition, but the benefits and techniques are the same.
Acupuncture uses small, thin needles placed at very specific points on the body. It is the most effective at treating orthopedic problems such as arthritis, back pain (disk issues), and painful joint injuries. However, it can be used along with western medicine to help treat anything from stomach upset to heart failure to ear infections. From the ancient Chinese perspective, the needles stimulate Chi flow throughout the body, helping bring everything back to its correct balance. We also now know that the needles stimulate blood flow, specific nerve endings, and the release of healing and calming chemicals within the body. More blood flow and nerve stimulation in an area means better and faster healing. Endorphins and serotonin are released helping calm your dog or cat, while giving them some deserved pain relief. The needles only sting a little when they first go in and then some animals even decide to take a nap during their treatment!
Veterinary acupuncture is fairly new in the United States, but it is gaining popularity as people realize how useful and effective it can be. If you’re interested, look online for a certified veterinary acupuncturist in your area.
Maggie Camilleri, DVM, Veterinary Associate at Paumanok Veterinary Hospital