How Acupuncture Can Benefit Your Pet

“All at once he became very angry,” Mildred Parker, said as her 10-year-old cat Bob stared up at me innocently with his emerald eyes and subtle twitch of his tail.

Parker and Bob ended up with me at Long Island Veterinary Specialists after Bob started attacking his sister Georgina, and radiographs showed Bob had severe hip arthritis. Parker’s vet referred her to me for my specialty in acupuncture.

There are many pets like Bob that suffer from osteoarthritis, yet mask the signs, and many stoic dogs and cats are especially adept at hiding their pain. Unfortunately there are also limited options in treating pain, in cats in particular, and animals who are intolerant or with other concurrent medical problems such as hepatopathy liver dysfunction and/or renal disease kidney disease. Acupuncture is a safe, non-invasive, and potentially highly effective alternative for pain management in veterinary medicine.

Western medicine is often very good at addressing acute disease but it falls short in treating chronic disease such as pain and osteoarthritis. Clients are seeking alternative modalities such as acupuncture; not only for themselves, but also for their pets. Integrative therapies, such as acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) and Physical Rehabilitation are exploding in popularity.

Acupuncture is a method of helping the body heal itself. Many individuals can be extremely sensitive to the effects of acupuncture. In this regard, it can be a great treatment option because it is something that can treat a wide variety of conditions and can produce astounding effects.

Many are surprised by the vast number of conditions that acupuncture can help treat. Pathologies that involve pain, nausea and neurologic conditions are the most commonly treated. Other problems treated include vomiting, constipation, anxiety, kidney and liver problems, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, cancer, and osteoarthritis. It can also be used to stimulate energy and immunity in ill and/or geriatric animals. Also it can be an excellent appetite stimulant.

Acupuncture works under the theory of Chi or Qi that is the energy system of the body. Analogous to the current that pulls rivers across land allowing the water to nourish the ecosystem, a good flow of Qi is imperative to a balanced body system, and obstructions in the flow manifests as disease. Acupuncture aims to promote the steady flow of Qi in order to maintain balance and tranquility.

Just as there is a wide range of individual sensitivity to acupuncture, there are species differences in the sensitivity to acupuncture. Cats and horses tend to be the most sensitive, followed by people and dogs, however it can be difficult to predict good candidates. Some pets that are frightened or aggressive learn to enjoy the euphoric feelings enhanced by acupuncture. Some do not.

Bob was a perfect candidate for acupuncture. The pain was compounding his frustration, which was leading to further issues with stress, aggression, and vomiting. There are several methods of acupuncture including dry needle, electro- and aqua-acupuncture and I used a combination of these types in Bob.

He responded beautifully, and the day after his first treatment he brought a giant stuffed horse to greet his owner, a behavior he had not done in years. After the third treatment he started jumping up on his cat tree again.

“Acupuncture has not only improved the quality of Bob’s life, but also our entire household, as when he isn’t happy neither are the rest of us,” Parker said.


lauren frank

Lauren R. Frank, DVM, Dip. ACVSMR, CVA, CVCH, CCRT Integrative Medicine Department at Long Island Veterinary Specialists in Plainview.