Animal Acupuncture - what to expect
Along with herbal medicine, it’s probably one of the oldest forms of veterinary medicine in the world. Although pets have only recently been treated with acupuncture, in China, horses, cows, and pigs have been treated for well over 3000 years. Like acupuncture in people, animal Acupuncture has come a long way since the early 1970s.
One of the most common concerns that people have about acupuncture on their pets is the ‘ouch’ factor. Cats and dogs can be a little apprehensive at first but they very quickly relax, becoming calm and even falling asleep. Most animals come back the next time, quite content to stand, lie down, or be held by their owner and be treated.
TCM is short for Traditional Chinese Medicine. This dates back thousands of years into ancient China period taking form 5000 years ago. It helps with illness and disease helping cure the body and mind and many other factors such as environmental, physical, emotional etc. Acupuncture was used for humans initially to treat but soon started to branch out into other living species that they wanted to help and improve lives of in their culture. That being horses, cows and pigs. Though out the years TCM and acupuncture have grown together alongside Western medicine mainly driven from America in animal medicine. As a result, it is widely used in companion animals for medicinal use and more commonly known of globally.
Acupuncture is integrative medicine stimulating the body’s own internal healing mechanisms, sometimes it takes a while for it to wake up and start working! The points used are parts of meridians attached in the body and are pathways to organs, blood, tissue, bone etc. Points in the body help stimulate and serve to regulate the flow of Qi and remove blockages from the body.
Similar to human acupuncture animal acupuncturists will observe the pets smell, the noises they make, tongue colour, the pulse, the nose, eye, ears, the walk, specific acupuncture points; their whole body to be exact. A TCM diagnosis helps but more often than not an intuitive approach, sensing the points and checking pulse changes determines the treatment.
Like disease in human TCM, in animals, there are external and internal causes, including emotional causes. It's no surprise to find out that dogs get “hot spots” in summer and Bi syndrome in winter, they suffer deficiency (often when on poor diets) and cats suffer yin deficiency very frequently.
The challenge with animals is in interpreting their signs and behaviour to make a TCM diagnosis when you can’t ask them how they feel. Good palpation and observational skills as well as communicating with the owner help a great deal.
Sometimes routine blood tests will pick up and confirm liver changes or kidney changes that just make sense!
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