Pet Corner

Acupuncture for Pets

| March/April 2005

By now, most of us are familiar with acupuncture, and many folks either have a pet that has been to an acupuncturist or know someone whose pet has been “needled.” In addition to herbal remedies and other treatment methods, acupuncturists insert hair-thin, specialized needles into roughly the same anatomic points identified by ancient practitioners. According to traditional acupuncturists, the needles activate and balance inner systems so the patient’s whole body returns to and is maintained in a healthy state.

Herbal remedies are used to further enhance the balance of the patient’s inner organs and systems (see “Favorite Oriental Medicine Herbs” below). A practitioner of Oriental Medicine tries to aid this body-balancing act by selecting herbs that enhance and balance what is known as the yin components of the body (cold, deep, dark, chronic, feminine, wet) or the yang components (hot, superficial, light, acute, masculine, dry).

In addition to balancing these primary yin/yang body components, herbs may be selected to balance one or more of what the Oriental perspective refers to as “organ systems” — liver, gallbladder, spleen, kidney, etc.

Finally, herbs and acupuncture needles may be directed toward enhancing the flow of qi, which is loosely translated as the vital energy, the breath of life, or the spirit of the animal.

Acupuncture practitioners might diagnose a problem as resulting from a yin deficiency, for example, or an excess of yang in the liver or as a blockage of qi (arthritis, for example, is thought of as a blockage of qi at the site of the painful, bony growth). Depending on the diagnosis derived from this Oriental system (which will not be equivalent to a Western medical diagnosis), herbs and acupuncture points are selected to re-balance the patient’s whole body.

Modern acupuncture practitioners generally have learned some of the ancient Oriental concepts which they have translated and integrated into concepts more aligned with Western medicine.

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