Often when an animal experiences pain, for example due to arthritis or broken joints using acupuncture is the last means of help we can think of. Luckily many vets are aware that such treatment is actually possible for an animal as well.
What is acupuncture, and how can it benefit animals?
Acupuncture is performed with the help of fine small needles made of gold, silver or stainless steel, often containing nickel. The technique involves gently protruding the first layer of skin and inserting anywhere from one to twenty needles into the layer of fat and muscle. The needles are generally left in the body for around thirty minutes, depending on the condition of the animal. They stimulate the body’s meridians (or energy channels) this treatment is designed to relieve pain and improve the animal’s organic function. Much like on humans. This is done by stimulating the central nervous system (the brain and also the spinal cord)
The vet may also use further means of heat, pressure or even electrical stimulation during a treatment. The animal will feel relaxed after the treatment has finished. Natural endorphins are released during the acupuncture and the animal may appear relaxed and tired.
To minimize sensations to the animal, the vet uses very fine needles. It is suffice to say that they are sterilized prior to usage. Depending on the animal, they might feel some discomfort for a short period of time, which can cause a slight temporary aggravation of the condition. In most cases the animal requires around two sessions of treatment. In rare cases the vet will decide to continue the treatment for longer, especially if the animal is of older age.
Animals such as cattle, dogs, cats, and even horses might benefit from this kind of treatment. In general it is easier for the vet to treat a fair sized animal. The nature of inserting the needles into the body of the animal makes it a less suitable treatment for smaller animals.
The idea behind using acupuncture is to restore a healthy balance in the body. Chinese people have been using acupuncture for many centuries and are very experienced in this craft. In the western world acupuncture is still considered an alternative treatment. Studies have been made to prove the beneficial effects on animals. Nonetheless, there are still vets that disapprove of applying acupuncture to animals. This will become less of an issue, once more studies will be made available.
Are there any known side effects from the treatment of acupuncture?
If it is performed by a licensed and trained practitioner, normally no side effects will surface. Sometimes however if the animal has other underlying ailments, these can unexpectedly flare up and cause the animal pain. Further treatment will need to be considered, if that situation arises.
All in all, your pets will benefit from acupuncture in most cases. Sometimes the vet will combine this with a traditional approach to further the effects of healing. Our beloved animals are suffering from pain, just as we do and they need all the help and treatment possible to alleviate this pain.