Acupuncture is a modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) developed thousands of years ago. Acupuncture treatment involves inserting small needles into the skin at specific points on the body to achieve a healing response. According to the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, “Clinical research has been conducted showing positive results in the treatment of both animals and humans.”

Western acupuncture practitioners generally view the traditionally defined acupuncture points as places where nerves, muscles and connective tissue can be stimulated, possibly to produce a natural painkilling response within the body.

In contrast, traditional Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as chi or qi (chee) — believed to flow through pathways in your body. These pathways are called meridians. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will re-balance. The Chinese also use acupuncture as a preventative treatment. These two views, while appearing to be different, are remarkably similar in explaining the beneficial effects of acupuncture.

Acupuncture is virtually painless for smaller mammals when administered by a properly trained veterinary acupuncturist.The risks associated with acupuncture are very, very low when one is treated by a competent, well-trained veterinary acupuncturist. Single-use, disposable needles are now the practice standard for acupuncture. After treatment, a pet may actually appear to be feeling more pain for a day or so after treatment. This is actually a sign that physiological changes are occurring and that the patient’s condition will likely improve after these initial disruptions subside.

Acupuncture has been widely used to treat the various ailments of many different species of animals. The technique has been known to be a very effective treatment for various conditions, though it is important to note acupuncture is not advised for all cases. Acupuncture continues to gain in popularity due to its non-invasive and almost side-effect free nature. The most common ways that acupuncture is used is to provide the pets with a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical method of healing and pain relief.

Acupuncture can be helpful for ailments such as anxiety, arthritis, skin allergies, disc disease (weakness of limbs or paralysis), respiratory problems (such as asthma), chronic vomiting or diarrhea. It is important to consult with us to see if your pet’s condition will benefit from acupuncture. Equally important, your pet must be a good candidate for a calm and quiet visit without being sedated. Acupuncture depends upon an awake and alert patient so that responses can be monitored. A restrained or sedated pet is not a good candidate for acupuncture treatment.

Dr. Erica Kim at Centre Animal Hospital practices integrative medicine where she uses both Western and Eastern approach to healing. Not only does she use acupuncture, she often combines it with Chinese herbal therapy. If you are interested in learning more about this method of healing to see if it would be beneficial for your pet, Dr. Kim would be happy to consult with you.

If you would like to learn more about acupuncture, please visit the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.

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