Acupuncture is a relatively mainstream treatment for humans these days, but would you consider acupuncture for your pets? The Chinese therapy is growing in popularity with pet owners as an alternative to traditional veterinary care or as a last resort when all else has failed.
What is Veterinary Acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves a series of small needles being inserted into an animal's skin at particular points on the body. Acupuncture allegedly relieves pain by stimulating the blood circulation. The treatment is often used to address musculoskeletal and chronic pain ailments including arthritis.
This form of treatment has been used on animals for many years but remains controversial. Most vets don't use it and many people are sceptical as to its efficacy. Nonetheless, there are now many practitioners and some pet owners are convinced that acupuncture has helped their animals when conventional treatments have failed. A study in 2006 concluded that there was no compelling evidence that acupuncture works but research has been limited. Some experts think that acupuncture produces only temporary relief as it causes the release of a natural painkiller called adenosine around the insertion points. Critics insist that the perceived benefits are merely the result of the placebo effect on the treated pets' owners.
Improving Quality of Life
But many owners and practitioners are sure that acupuncture does work and has improved the quality of life of many animals. If proved to work, Acupuncture could be an excellent solution for the many pets with liver and kidney conditions which preclude them from being treated with traditional pain medication.
Animals certainly don't seem troubled by acupuncture. They don't appear to be bothered by the needles and many find the treatment to be a relaxing experiencing. Practitioners report that pet owners often seek their services in an attempt to reduce the amount of drugs that their animals are treated with.
The debate over acupuncture looks set to continue with sceptics sure that the placebo effect is in full swing whilst pet owners report miraculous improvements in their animals. Further research is certainly required. But, in the meantime, if your animal is suffering and traditional treatments have failed, why not try acupuncture? It might not do your pet much good but it almost certainly won't do them any harm.