Acupuncture is the ancient art of stimulating the body to heal itself. The first written record of acupuncture treatments is the Huang di Neijing (The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Cannon) which dates back to 200 BC. However Otzi, the mummified human remains found in the Alps on the Italian-Austrian border, had tattoos that are believed to be markings for acupuncture points. These remains are estimated to be from 3300 BC.
Traditional Chinese Medicine defines acupuncture as a technique to move energy in the body by using needles to stimulate points on the meridians where the energy or Qi flows. Most Western explanations suggest that stimulating peripheral nerves using needles promotes healing. Natural endorphins released by the body in response to acupuncture can have a calming effect and reduce pain.
There has been a growing acceptance and use of acupuncture in human medicine in the U.S. over the last few decades. Since animals and people share much of their physiology and anatomy it is not surprising that acupuncture can be healing for pets as well. Most points used in veterinary acupuncture are transpositional points. This means that they correspond to points that are similar in a human patient.
In 1988 the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) approved acupuncture as a recognized alternative therapy. In recent years acupuncture for animals has been more widely used as more practitioners are getting trained and seeing results in their patients.
Sometimes veterinary acupuncture is used as a sole treatment of a problem. Most of the time, acupuncture is used as a complement to Western medicine. This integrative approach to health care gives the best results. At each appointment the veterinarian should review all medications and treatment modalities that are being used to treat the patient so the best combination of treatments is applied.