Animal acupuncture is a service some veterinarians offer.
What is Animal Acupuncture?
Animal chiropractic and animal massage are therapies performed by veterinarians as well as other trained professionals. Another option, veterinary acupuncture, is a service of performing acupuncture therapy on animals. Veterinary acupuncture emerged more widely in the United States in the 1970s. It was introduced by Dr. Gene Bruno and Dr. John Ottaviano, who were researchers from the National Acupuncture Association. They founded the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, or IVAS, later. Acupuncture can be used for paralysis, pain, or non-infectious inflammation. Diarrhea, reproductive problems, feline asthma, hip dysplasia, and lick granuloma are some of the conditions that can be treated in small animals. For large animals, acupuncture could treat respiratory problems, non-surgical colic, facial nerve paralysis, downer cow syndrome, and allergic dermatitis. It is rarely used on exotic animals, but acupuncture has been performed on show and racing animals.1 Acupuncture is “the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response”. It can be used to treat dysfunction, and acupuncture may also help competitive animals perform at their peak. Acupuncture is meant to help the body heal itself by stimulating nerves, relieving muscle spasms, increasing circulation, and releasing endorphins. It is not uncommon for animals’ conditions to worsen for up to two days after treatment, even leaving them lethargic for a day, but “acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment…by a properly trained veterinarian”.2
Organizations and Training
The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society was founded in 1974. IVAS has the intent of establishing uniform standards in the practice of veterinary acupuncture. They offer certification to help ensure “objective measure of knowledge” and “professionalism”, as well as “expertise”, “commitment”, and “quality in veterinary healthcare”.3 There is another professional organization: the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture. AAVA also offers advanced certification.4 To receive training, there are programs offered in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, such as those found at the Chi Institute. The Chi Institute offers certification and training in small animal acupuncture as well as other types therapies.5 TCVM “has been used in China to treat animals for thousands of years”. In TVCM, it is believed the “Qi” or “life-energy” is a “fundamental force of the body”. Opposing forces of “Yin-Yang” are at work in “physiological function and disease”. TVCM involves acupuncture, herbal medicine, food therapy, and Chinese medical massage or “tui-na”.6
Learn about chiropractic for animals.