What is acupuncture for pets? It’s easier than you think to use it

acupuncture for pets

Have you heard about this interesting treatment?

Acupuncture for pets is a traditional Chinese medicine therapy that involves needles. While this sounds like it might hurt, it doesn’t seem to cause any real discomfort for your pet. The needle placement is easily tolerated, either by people or pets, at least as I’ve observed.

It’s been around for humans for centuries, but is now becoming much more available for pets than it used to be. Although It’s been around for roughly 3,000 years, it didn’t get to U.S. pets until the 1970s. In the last decade or two, it’s become pretty easy to find an acupuncturist for your pet.

Acupuncture for humans or animals comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Basically, acupuncture uses thin, sterile needles that are placed in specific places on the body. These sites are are connected to body systems that help to achieve desired effects. It’s a very different way of thinking than that of western medicine. Western medicine tries to treat an existing problem while TCM tries to balance the body to prevent a problem.

Qualifications of a pet acupuncturist

In most if not all areas of the country, pet acupuncture is considered a type of surgical procedure. That means anyone performing it has to be a veterinarian. They usually have extensive training in veterinary medicine, as well as traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, so they’re well qualified to perform this therapy on your pets.

How hard is it to get acupuncture for pets?

Since acupuncture is getting more mainstream, you can find qualified vets in most areas of the country. Your local vet office might even have a practitioner. We have a couple of vets that perform acupuncture within 100 miles or so. We’re in a remote little town. In a more populated area, they are much closer together.

Cost varies. Depending on location, condition treated, and other individual factors, a session can cost anywhere from about $35 to over $200. Considering the relief you can provide to your pets, the benefit usually outweighs the cost. As I’ve observed my horses, the effects help from weeks to a couple months.

Depending on the condition being treated, your vet may want to see them for repeated sessions and follow up.

How does pet acupuncture work?

According to TCM, there are meridians, or pathways, along the surface of the body that have specific connections to organs and functions throughout the body. As needles are placed in these locations, they effect the related spots, leading to balancing of the body and therefore relief of the problem.

What to expect from a treatment

A treatment starts with the acupuncturist assessing your pet. They’ll ask you questions about what you see going on and observe your pet for issues. Then they’ll place the needles in the locations they decide to use, one at a time and very gently. The needles generally stay in for 10-30 minutes. When the needles are pulled out, you can’t even tell where they were and the animal isn’t usually painful at the site. I have not seen any blood or scabs at any time.

I’ve had horses and dogs “needled” and haven’t had a single one that wouldn’t stand for the needle placement. Their eyes get droopy, necks drop and the licking/chewing starts. My pets relax and really enjoy the treatment.

What acupuncture for pets does?

It relieves pain, increases circulation, stimulates beneficial hormones, aides in relaxation and helps removal of toxins. These actions can help your pet deal with conditions they have.

If your pet suffers with arthritis, injuries from trauma, cancer, metabolic disease, dermatitis, autoimmune diseases, or a whole slew of other conditions, you might find that getting a treatment or series of treatments will make your pet more comfortable.

Why use acupuncture for pets?

Western medicine used to be skeptical of many of the reported benefits of acupuncture. However, more and more, veterinarians recommend it as one of many tools for addressing issues.

I’ve had arthritic dogs, elderly horses and athletic competitors of the equine and canine persuasion, treated. Some sessions are more effective than others. However, usually the receiver of the treatment seems much more comfortable and has less problems with the issue we’re treating.

Full disclosure; having been more concerned with the well being of my pets than myself, I’ve not had acupuncture. I have a lot of animals and would rather spend the time on them. Maybe I’ll take the time one of these days because my pets surely do seem to love it.

Other therapies

Something else worth checking out is acupressure. Pet parents can do acupressure on their own pets without all the expensive and time consuming education. It can’t cause any harm and it can help. I am currently reading a couple of books and starting to experiment with my animals. So far, so good. I’ll be writing in the future about it because they surely do seem to like it.

I have many animals that have pain issues like arthritis, hip dysplasia, injuries, etc., so I’ve tried lots of different therapies. To find out more about other alternative treatments, read my blog posts about magnets for pain management, animal Reiki or pet chiropractors.

Have you tried acupuncture or any other alternative therapies on any of your pets? How did it work? Tell me about it in the comments below.

To find out more about pet acupuncture, try sites like IVAS, or PetMD.

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