The art of acupuncture, whose roots are in Chinese medicine, has been around for millennia, yet acupuncture has been widely used in pets only for the past 50 years, since the founding of the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) in 1975. Veterinary acupuncture has gained popularity in recent years, as pet owners seek alternative methods for improving their four-legged companions’ health and wellbeing.

When specific points on your pet’s body, known as acupoints, are stimulated, a multitude of physiological changes promote healing. These acupoints lie along meridians through which the body’s energy, or Qi, flows. When a pet is ill or injured, the flow of Qi through the body is disrupted or blocked, causing stagnation, but when hair-fine needles are applied at certain acupoints, energy flow is restored, and the body is healed. 

Our Safe Harbor Animal Hospital team wants to share the incredible healing benefits of veterinary acupuncture. Here are five ways we can use acupuncture to help heal your pet and improve their wellbeing.

#1: Veterinary acupuncture can be used to ease pain in pets

Pain relief is one of the primary acupuncture applications for pets. Whether your pet is experiencing acute pain, such as from a traumatic injury, or has developed a chronic condition like arthritis, acupuncture can safely and effectively ease their pain.

The insertion of acupuncture needles into your pet’s skin triggers the nervous system, releasing neurotransmitters, endorphins, and other chemicals that:

  • Reduce pain perception
  • Alleviate inflammation
  • Promote relaxation
  • Relieve muscle spasms

By using the body’s own pain-relieving hormones and chemicals, your pet has no adverse side effects, so acupuncture is exceptionally safe for painful pets who cannot tolerate medications or surgery to ease their discomfort.

#2: Veterinary acupuncture can improve gastrointestinal disorders in pets

Gastrointestinal (GI) issues are common in pets, both as a primary condition or triggered by another illness. Diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and pancreatitis are a few GI ailments that acupuncture treatments can remedy. 

By inserting acupuncture needles at the appropriate points on the body, gastric motility and secretions are re-balanced. Pain and inflammation, such as that a pet with pancreatitis experiences, are also reduced with acupuncture. Endocrine and metabolic disorders can achieve homeostasis through acupuncture-induced hormone regulation.

#3: Veterinary acupuncture can manage chronic health issues in pets

A wide range of chronic health issues can benefit from ongoing acupuncture treatments designed to alleviate clinical signs. Since acupuncture can relieve pain, regulate hormones, ease inflammation, control GI distress, manage breathing difficulties, and perform a multitude of other healing properties, the treatment can be effective in virtually any chronic health condition.

Some of the most common chronic medical problems that acupuncture can remedy include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hyper- and hypothyroidism
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Addison’s disease
  • Organ failure (e.g., liver, kidney, heart)
  • Asthma
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Allergies
  • Epilepsy
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Urinary and fecal incontinence

#4: Veterinary acupuncture can speed recovery in pets

Some of acupuncture’s healing qualities include the stimulation of hormone release, improved circulation, boosted metabolic waste removal, nerve regeneration, and tissue activation to repair chemicals. Since acupuncture works with the body to kickstart various physiological processes, pets recover from trauma and illness much more rapidly than through pharmaceutical treatment alone.

#5: Veterinary acupuncture can be part of a multimodal treatment plan for pets

Acupuncture works exceptionally well as a complementary therapy and can be used as part of an overall rehabilitation protocol, or combined with traditional Western medicine that focuses more on surgery and drugs. Incorporating acupuncture into a multimodal treatment plan can lower drug dosages, and help avoid more invasive treatments, like surgery. Using a benign therapy like acupuncture also reduces the potential side effects of other treatments.

As the only non-invasive, drug-free, and pain-free therapy, acupuncture is incredibly safe for almost all pets, and produces minimal, if any, side effects. Pet owners most commonly notice fatigue and a worsening of their pet’s condition for 24 to 48 hours following an acupuncture session, but these indicate that changes are occurring in the body. An improvement is then typically noted.

If your pet is suffering from a painful or chronic condition, they may be an excellent candidate for acupuncture. Give our Safe Harbor Animal Hospital team a call or book online to schedule your furry pal’s initial acupuncture consultation and treatment.