Everything you need to know about animal acupuncture
Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique that has been used in China for more than 4000 years, long before Western medicine was born. It is normally considered a form of supplementary medicine. Interest in acupuncture for humans has grown with the publication of several studies that prove noticeable improvements for some disorders. The technique is also being applied to dogs and, to a lesser extent, to cats. There are already some veterinarians who have the specific training and the required accreditation to practise acupuncture.
Acupuncture consists of inserting extremely fine needles into specific points of the body. It is a totally painless technique. Acupuncture needles are much thinner than hypodermic needles, and their diameter is normally just 0.02 mm. People who have tried this technique describe a slight feeling of warmth and a prickling and numb sensation when the needle is inserted, but they feel no pain. They sometimes feel a sharp pain, which eventually stops when the needle remains under the skin. Although certain points of the body are more sensitive than others, the veterinarians specialised in acupuncture know which ones must be avoided. More than a 95% of animals tolerate the acupuncture technique. Needles are inserted into more than one hundred specific points of the body that are apparently connected with sets of nerves or nerve fibres. It is more likely that acupuncture needles cause a release of endorphins, which are the natural opiates of the brain; endorphins relieve pain and provide a sensation of well-being. They also stimulate the acupuncture points that act on the nervous, immune and endocrine systems.
The American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture considers acupuncture to be particularly effective in treating hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disorders, degenerative myelopathy, epilepsy, asthma, urinary infections and even inflammations.
As with other treatments, acupuncture does not guarantee results; however, it is an alternative that, according to indications, can be effective in one-quarter of the cases. There is also the option to combine it with conventional medicine. Finally, acupuncture is sometimes combined with other alternative treatments, such as phytotherapy or homoeopathy, which are applied to persons or animals.
Veterinarians who are properly trained in acupuncture are able to treat most dogs and cats without signs of animal stress. The acupuncture treatment, as with many others, requires more than one session to have a positive effect. There are several veterinarians in Spain who are trained to apply acupuncture. For further information on these professionals, please visit www.acupunturaveterinaria.com