The Chinese have used acupuncture to treat disease for over 4000 years in humans as well as animals. The ancient Chinese believed that the health of the body depended on the state of the Qi (pronounced “chee”) or “vital energy”. There are two opposite forces of Qi, the Yin and Yang. According to Chinese belief, when an animals Yin and Yang were in balance, it was healthy. Accordingly, when these forces were unbalanced, the animal would become sick. Animal acupuncture was developed to balance the flow of Qi, enabling the body to heal itself.
Acupuncture is now recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association and is considered an integral part of veterinary medicine. Bayside offers acupuncture to complement traditional therapy or provide an alternative form of medical therapy.
How does acupuncture work? The Chinese discovered 173 acupuncture points in animals. Modern research shows that that acupuncture points (or acupoints) are located where there is a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles and lymphatic vessels. Studies show that stimulation of acupoints induces the body to release endogenous or natural beta-endorphin, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters. Stimulation of the points can be done in several manners, but is typically done with needles and electro-stimulation. Endorphins control pain by causing blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood flow around joints and muscles, thus increasing nutrient and oxygen delivery to the desired area.
Who is qualified to perform acupuncture? Only a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (“CVA”) should perform acupuncture on animals. These techniques should be regarded as surgical and medical procedures and should only be done by someone with the extensive medical knowledge of a licensed veterinarian. All but one state require that acupuncturists are certified.
What can you treat with acupuncture? It is best to develop a comprehensive, integrative approach using both acupuncture and traditional western medicine to address an animal’s medical needs. Acupuncture has proven extremely successful in addressing the following:
- Neurological disorders such seizures and disc disease,
- Behavioral problems,
- Metabolic disease such as kidney and liver failure,
- Pain management and arthritis,
- Cardiovascular disorders,
- Chronic respiratory conditions,
- Dermatological disorders,
- Gastrointestinal disorders,
- Immune-mediated disorders, and
- Musculoskeletal disorders.
Is acupuncture painful? For small animals, the insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless. Once the needles are in place, there should be no pain. Most animals become very relaxed and often fall asleep.
How long do acupuncture treatments last? The length and frequency of acupuncture treatments varies depending on the condition of the patient. A typical session will last 20 to 30 minutes. Stimulation of an individual acupuncture point may take as little as 10 seconds or as much as 30 minutes. While some acute problems may require only one treatment, more severe or chronic conditions may need several treatments.
Read more about animal acupuncture at US News and World Report.