Acupuncture is an ancient medical therapy that involves the insertion of small, sterile needles into specific points along the body. Now if you are thinking, Sure, my cat will sit still for that considering she hangs off the ceiling just for a vaccine! You are not alone.
When I first started my acupuncture training, I envisioned something along the lines of using a blow dart gun to shoot needles into some of my patients from across the room (just think of an angry cat lunging from inside the cat carrier). Then there were the visions of my patients looking like porcupines. But thankfully, none of these things came to be. Most patients tolerate, if not enjoy, acupuncture sessions.Believe it or not, some even find the treatment time so relaxing, they take a nap! Needles are left in the body for a short period of time, usually between fifteen to thirty minutes, depending on what type of issue is being treated. The frequency of treatments also varies depending on what is being addressed. Acute problems, like a sprain, may require only one or two treatments.Severe or chronic diseases, such as feline asthma, will require ongoing therapy.
By Western medical explanation, acupuncture works via the neuroendocrine system (nerves, hormones, blood vessels).Stimulation of this system will cause changes in the body to better help it fight disease (providing pain control through endorphin release, boosting the immune system). From an Eastern perspective, in a healthful state, the body’s energy is in balance. In a disease state, the body’s energy is out of balance. Experts on traditional Chinese medicine maintain that acupuncture works by adjusting the flow of this energy in the body. This energy, called Qi (and pronounced chee), flows through pathways, or channels, along the body. There are fourteen major channels that contain the points that can be utilized in an acupuncture treatment. Each point has a specific action that occurs when stimulated with the end goal of helping the body heal itself.
So what types of conditions in pets can acupuncture treat? It can be used to treat a wide variety of syndromes in cats and dogs ranging from arthritis, neck and back pain, gastrointestinal issues, skin problems, and neurological disorders.
Acupuncture can be used alone, or in conjunction with Western medical therapies. It becomes a great therapy for difficult to treat conditions, such as feline arthritis. Because cats process some types of pain medications differently than dogs or people, we are limited in our options for long-term pain management. Acupuncture can be used safely to help these creaky cats (and if you have one of these, you know exactly what I’m talking about) feel good without the use of potentially harmful medications.
Acupuncture is a safe and non-invasive therapy that has been used in China to treat sick animals for thousands of years. In the Western world, there has been an increasing demand for alternative therapies for our companion animals over the past several decades.
By using acupuncture for our pets to treat both acute and chronic diseases, we are helping to them to live longer, healthier lives.