Humans turning to alternative medicine to treat their ailments is ordinary, but nowadays, pets are also following the trend — with acupuncture for dogs and cats is attracting a growing number of owners in China.
About five thousand years ago, the ancient Chinese figured out how to use needles to treat various conditions. Acupuncturists discovered that placing needles into specific points on the body could influence physiological processes, alleviate pain, and activate body parts.
As the popularity of acupuncture as a complementary therapy for cats grows, an increasing number of veterinarians are seeking education in the practice.
Acupuncture for cats
Acupuncture is generally well tolerated by cats and can be used to help treat a whole spectrum of feline health problems, from arthritis to urinary symptoms.
When administered by an experienced acupuncturist, acupuncture poses minimal risks to patients. Acupuncture is an ancient practice that involves putting tiny, sterilized needles into the body at strategic places known as acupoints.
These acupoints can be found along the body’s energy pathways, known as meridians. By inserting needles into specific acupuncture points along the animal’s meridians, the nervous system is stimulated, leading to a therapeutic effect on various organs and systems.
Acupuncture is not painful for cats. It does not represent any danger to their health since a veterinarian carries out its practice on the animal.
The owners’ primary motivation is to offer their pets a less invasive treatment with fewer side effects than conventional medicine.
Alternative medicine for the cats
Zhai Chunyu, a pet owner, brought her furry friend for a session. The Chinese citizen told AFP.
“The advantage of traditional Chinese medicine is that there is no surgery. So the suffering and convalescence of the animal are reduced,”.
To establish his diagnosis, veterinarian Li Wen examines the animal’s body, eyes, and the color of its tongue takes its pulse and asks questions to the owner.
He then plants his needles at acupuncture points specific to dogs and cats. The vet has more than forty-six years of experience.
“Out of an average of 10 animals I see daily, there’s always one or two that balk. You must reassure them that you’re not there to hurt them.”
To help relax them, the professional plays soft music of bamboo flute and chirping birds.
As with humans, once the needles are planted, the vet stimulates the points with a heat lamp. This ‘moxibustion’ is supposed to help reduce rheumatism, muscle and joint pain, and acupuncture.
The veterinarian mainly treats cases of paralysis, weakness of the limbs, epilepsy, pain, and urinary retention.
As expected, the session comes at a price. Fees vary from 360 to 390 yuan (53 to 57 dollars) depending on the package, which remains acceptable for most Beijing masters.
Acupuncture can also be used when there is no other treatment available.
“Traditional Chinese medicine is not intended to replace conventional medicine because both are complementary,” says Professor Li.
The market for animal acupuncture remains limited for now. But since 2016, it has been gaining popularity.