People always try to get the best healthcare for their families, and for some this might mean seeing a holistic practitioner. Pets are part of the family too, and if you demand nothing less than the best for your children, you probably feel the same way about your dog or cat. But who gives holistic healthcare to animals? As it turns out, veterinary clinics with holistic and traditional medicine practices are becoming frequent, and acupuncture is right at the top of the list of treatments that pet owners are asking for.
The first records of acupuncture for animals date back to 2nd century China, where it was used on horses and draft animals. It was not until the 1970s that it came to the U.S., but since then it has quickly gained popularity and acceptance not only among pet owners, but also within the veterinary community. It is commonly performed on dogs, cats, horses and livestock, and some vets also practice it on ferrets, birds, rabbits, and other animals.
Since physiology differs so much between species, only licensed vets may practice acupuncture on animals. However, the theory behind it is the same as acupuncture for humans, and it can treat most of the same things. In practice, animals are most often treated for muscle and joint stiffness, pain, and gastrointestinal or respiratory problems. Hip dysplasia for dogs and back or joint stiffness in horses are two of the most common afflictions treated by veterinary acupuncturists.
Animal acupuncture has gained acceptance among vets mainly because it works.
By the way, this is pretty good evidence that the benefits of acupuncture are not simply due to the placebo effect. Since the animals have no knowledge that the treatment is supposed to help them feel better, improvement can’t be attributed to that expectation.
Hopefully, more people will recognize this and lend a little more credence to acupuncture as an effective therapy for both themselves and their animal friends.