What is Veterinary Acupuncture?
Veterinary acupuncture is no different than regular acupuncture. It is the insertion of small needles into the body to help with a condition. These needles are inserted into certain areas of the body in relation to their specific needs and treatment. The goal is to correct the imbalances of flow of the Qi and to restore health to the patient. These treatments for the animals can take between 1-60 minutes and usually take 3-5 acupuncture treatments before you notice a difference. Most of the time, the animals can move around while the needles are in. You must be a veterinarian to offer acupuncture to animals. While not necessary, it is recommended that you complete a training program to perform acupuncture on animals.
What Kind of Animals Benefit from Acupuncture?
All animals can benefit from acupuncture treatments. In the beginning, dogs, cattle, and horses were the first to receive acupuncture. Now, veterinary acupuncturists can treat cats, birds, rabbits, and wildlife with acupuncture. It is mostly used on dogs, cats, and horses though.
There are different types of acupuncture that can be used to treat the animal. These types are:
- Dry Needling: This is the regular type of acupuncture you’d associate with when you hear the word. It’s just the insertion of small needles
- Acupressure: This does not use needles at all. It still uses the same acu points, but instead of needles, the acupuncturist applies gentle pressure to the acu points.
- Aqua-acupuncture: Instead of the use of needles, a water solution, usually containing vitamins, is injected into the points where the needles would be inserted.
- Electro-acupuncture: This type of acupuncture involves the use of regular dry needling, inserting the needles into the skin. After needles are properly inserted, wires are attached to the needles and to an electrical stimulation unit.
What Kind of Conditions Does Veterinary Acupuncture Treat?
As with humans, animals suffer from a variety of conditions and diseases. Acupuncture can help conditions such as:
- Rashes / dermatitis
- Digestion issues
- Pain management
- Post-operative pain
- Coughing & COPD
- Muscle Atrophy
A Success Story
A woman named Michelle wrote her story about her dog, Otto, and his experience with acupuncture. She recalls Otto being a puppy and constantly running and getting into things he wasn’t supposed to. Now that he is getting older, his health has definitely taken a toll on him. With x-rays showing arthritis and a bulging disk, Otto definitely wasn’t running around anymore. While her and her husband were on a hike one day, they ran into a man who was walking his golden retriever. The dog was 3 years older than Otto and yet still could run and play as if he was a puppy. When Michelle’s husband commented on the great shape the dog was in, his owner told them he had trouble walking before due to arthritis. The dog’s owner credited acupuncture to the dog’s success and his good health. Michelle then found a veterinary acupuncturist on her own, as she knew Otto’s veterinarian did not believe in it. She found Ms. Livoni, who made house calls. After 4 treatments, they still didn’t see a difference in Otto. After the fifth treatment, Otto was doing so much better. They took him to his favorite trail, he was able to run again, and he even did a nice belly flop into the water. While she’s not sure whether it was the acupuncture or Otto’s medication was finally starting to take effect, she was so happy to have her dog back.
What is Acupuncture? FAQs. Animal Veterinary Center Bear, DE.
Slatalla, M. 2008. Old Dog, New Trick: Acupuncture. The New York Times.
Waggener, N. 2017. Acupuncture: Can It Help Your Pet? South Boston Animal Hospital.
Feldman, J. 2005. 5 Health Benefits of Acupuncture for Dogs. PetCard RX.
Can Your Pet Benefit from Acupuncture? Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation.
2015. Pet Acupuncture: The Benefits of a Healing Touch. Billings Animal Family Hospital.