With the growing popularity of alternative medicine, many pet owners are turning to acupuncture needles to relieve their animals’ pain.
"I mainly use it as a pain management tool to help our pets that are in pain. Back pain is the big one; we can also use it for neurological damage to help stimulate our peripheral nerves in the spinal cord maybe when there is some damage to those areas," said veterinary pain practitioner Carie Allred.
The basic focus of acupuncture is blood flow, and use of acupuncture points to cause more or less blood flow. Acupuncture points are located across the animal’s body.
"To help them to improve either in their level of pain so they are not in as much pain or to function better, so they can get up better, walk better, or whatever it is that we are trying to treat," said Dr. Allred.
Dr. Carie Allred uses acupuncture on animals at the VCA Oso Creek Animal Hospital and says she sees big improvements after treatment.
"Sometimes it surprises me how successful it can be, and certainly when I first started doing acupuncture, I was surprised time and again, when we would get feedback from the client saying that their pet was much improved with just one session or two sessions," said Allred.
Allred says the reason she likes acupuncture is because there are potentially no negative side effects in comparison with pain medications.
"This is a really good way of improving quality of life. When you have tried other things, and it is not working for that patient, there are a lot of times when we can add in acupuncture as one of the modalities that we are using for that patient," said Dr. Allred.
Skeptical? Dr. Allred says everyone is until they see the results.
Most animals take the treatment very well, although each is different, depending on the demeanor and their specific condition. The number and frequency of treatments also varies.
The VCA Oso Creek Animal Hospital offers Acupuncture Services for your pet, and it may be recommended as a preventative measure or to help treat disease.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that is believed to stimulate the flow of energy forces that nourish tissues, stimulate blood flow, and enhance body systems.
According to ancient Chinese medical theory, the life force (called qi or ch’i) flows through the body via 14 invisible channels known as meridians, regulating all physical and mental processes.
Opposing forces within the body (called yin and yang), must be balanced to keep ch’i flowing properly.
The meridians run deep within the body’s tissues and organs, surfacing at some 360 places identified as acupuncture points.
Stimulating these points is said to balance and restore the flow of ch’i. Stimulation of the points is performed by inserting thin, smooth, solid needles.
The depth of insertion, type of stimulation, and duration of treatment vary according to the disease or the condition being treated. Veterinary acupuncturists may use needles alone, needles with electrical stimulation, or stimulation using a specific type of laser. Ask your veterinarian if acupuncture may be right for your pet.