Acupuncture for Dogs and Cats | PetFirst Pet Insurance
Pet Care & Health

Acupuncture for Dogs and Cats

by MetLife Pet Insurance
7 years ago

Alternative medicine is growing in popularity, and acupuncture for dogs and cats is on the rise. Acupuncture, a treatment used on horses and even cattle since the early 1900’s, is rising to become a commonplace veterinary treatment for dogs and cats.

What is acupuncture? Merriam-Webster defines acupuncture as:

“An originally Chinese practice of inserting fine needles through the skin at specific points especially to cure disease or relieve pain (as in surgery).”

Acupuncture works by inserting needles into points in the body tissue where blood vessels and nerves cross. These points are commonly referred to as “acupuncture points” and can be beneficial to pets in all stages of life for a variety of conditions.

PetMD lists several ways that acupuncture may be able to help your cat or dog.

  1. Stimulates the release of the body’s own pain relieving and anti-inflammatory substances
  2. Relaxes muscles at the site of the needle insertion and more distant body locations, creating a pain-relieving effect
  3. Improves tissue blood flow, oxygenation, and removal of metabolic wastes and toxins
  4. Lacks potential adverse side effects for your pet’s internal organs
  5. Can be safely used to treat a variety of illnesses because it will not adversely interfere with other treatment or medication.

In addition to treating a variety of illnesses and symptoms, there are different types of acupuncture besides traditional needle insertion that are used to treat pets.

  • Lasers: Lasers are becoming increasingly common (we aren’t talking sci-fi here; these are medical lasers). The small laser is used at the acupuncture points to elicit a similar effect without the needle.
  • Electrostimulation: this involves small electric current being coursed through the body through the needle insertion point. This has been shown to relax muscle spasms and help in recovery of nerve damage—such as a ruptured intervertebral disc.
  • Acupressure: similar to lasers, this treatment does not involve needles. Rather, pressure is applied to the acupuncture points to render a comparable effect. This type of treatment is recommended for locations that would be more difficult to reach via needle insertion.
  • Moxibustion: in this form of acupuncture, heated needles often containing herbal compounds are inserted at the acupuncture points. The heat from the needles can be beneficial for soreness and pain—especially older pets suffering from those conditions.

Licensed veterinarians can take courses for administering safe medical acupuncture to cats and dogs. Be wary: with the rise of popularity and studies that show the effective results of acupuncture, there are those out there who aren’t licensed and attempting to perform this treatment.

“With the rising trend of alternative medicine, many people performing these procedures aren’t properly licensed,” said Ann Urbanic, claims coordinator at PetFirst. “It is imperative to your pet’s health and safety that procedures be performed by a licensed veterinarian.”

Make sure to see your veterinarian and ask if the benefits of acupuncture would be recommended for your pet!

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

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