In China, “fur babies” are reaping the benefits of a booming pet pampering industry that includes luxury hotels, spas, and even Chinese medicine. Now, pet owners are pinning all their hopes on the specialist acupuncture clinics dedicated to treating sick and injured animals—and the results are pretty impressive.
Supposedly, acupuncture for pets isn’t a new concept. “This technique has been used in veterinary practice in China for thousands of years to treat many ailments,” the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society notes on its website. “Acupuncture is used all around the world, either along or in conjunction with Western medicine, to treat a wide variety of conditions in every species of animal. Clinical research has been conducted showing positive results in the treatment of both animals and humans, and the use of acupuncture is increasing.”
Acupuncture works by rebalancing the patient’s qi (pronounced “chee”)—the yin and yang energies that flow through the body. By delicately inserting fine needles into particular acupoints, the treatment is said to release energy blockages and restore health.
Researchers have found that these acupoints contain neurovascular bundles—interconnected nerves, veins, tissues etc.—which means inserting a needle in one part of the body will cause a chain reaction, affecting another seemingly disparate part of the body.
At the Shanghai TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Neurology and Acupuncture Animal Health Centre, more than 2,000 cats and dogs have been treated for pain relief and even some major disabilities. “Making a paralyzed and dependent dog stand up is our ultimate goal,” says Jin Rishan, a specialist at the center who notes that 80% of the pets treated by him and his team have made marked improvements.
Although on first appearance it could be mistaken for a creepy form of torture, these little guys are actually a step closer to living better lives.