Q: I am keen to try acupuncture for my pet. When should I explore this treatment option?

A: As with acupuncture on humans, acupuncture works well on animals for a variety of conditions involving bones, tendons, ligaments and nerves. It also works well for pain management, digestion and overall wellbeing.

Acupuncture on animals is normally performed with a very fine needle (even smaller than needles used to deliver your pet’s vaccination), which is inserted into acupuncture points to move the internal energy (qi) and bring balance back to the body. Other forms of acupuncture involve injecting small amounts of saline mixed with Vitamin B12 into the acupoints. The effect lasts longer on the
patient and is especially beneficial on pets that cannot stop moving around. A fidgety patient makes it difficult for the needles to stay in certain points for the whole time. Other methods of performing acupuncture include the use of electricity, laser, heat, cold and even
gold implants.

Occasionally there is a brief discomfort when the needle penetrates the skin. However, once it is placed, most animals are quite happy to be needled and many will often relax and drift off during the session. The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. In recently occurring conditions, one or two weekly sessions lasting between five and 20 minutes may be all that is required. However, severe or chronic ailments may require repeated treatments. The combination with food therapy and herbs are also often used.

In deciding if acupuncture is the right treatment option for your pet, it is important that your pet’s condition is properly diagnosed first. Both western and eastern methods of diagnosis can be used to maximise the treatment options. The former includes the use of blood tests and imaging. Traditional Chinese methods of diagnosis include understanding the pet’s habits, examining the tongue and pulse and feeling for areas of sensitivities around the body.

Veterinary acupuncture is a respected field of medicine which requires formal training and certification. So look for a veterinarian that has undergone the advanced training in this field and who has experience in using acupuncture to treat similar conditions to what your
pet has. 


Image source: acupunctureforpets.org/