Chinese pet owners are now turning to acupuncture to help their furry friends deal with injuries or help with therapy.
Some owners believe that the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) will cure their pet’s ailments or even help them ease their suffering. But the question remains: does it work?
One of the canine patients of Shanghai TCM Neurology and Acupuncture Animal Health Centre seems to prove its usefulness. Eight-month-old French bulldog, Dan Jiao (Egg Dumpling), had a terrible accident that broke his back and left him paralyzed.
After several acupuncture appointments, the dog is now able to limp on all fours, according to the Telegraph.
“Seventy percent of the animals here suffer from spinal disc herniation, leading to paralysis of the hind legs or all four legs,” Jin Rishan, a 53-year-old practitioner of TCM told AFP. “Western medical practices can’t do much.”
The practice of acupuncture on animals is a lot more complicated than it is for humans. For one, the clinic has to put the pet in a device that will hold them in place. The practitioner then inserts long needles into the animal’s body. These needles are connected to a machine that gives off an electric current that passes through them.
The Shanghai TCM Neurology and Acupuncture Animal Health Center has already catered to 2,000 pets, both cats and dogs, since it first opened in 2013. Now, more and more people are coming to get their pets checked out. A single session will cost 260 Yuan (or around $36), Reuters reported.
It is still unclear how the science behind acupuncture in animals – or even in humans – works. But one theory seems to suggest that it may have something to do with temporary pain relief caused by a sudden release of a naturally-produced painkiller called adenosine.
Henthorne Clinical Professor of Small Animal Medicine at Oklahoma State, Lara Sypniewski, is a supporter of the TCM treatment for animals. She believes pet acupuncture can bring relief to animals that are in pain but not able to take in pain medication due to kidney and/or liver conditions.
“Our animals’ role in our lives has changed tremendously – they used to sleep outside and now the husband is being kicked out bed to make room for the dog,” she said on her interview with BBC.
“Preventative medications mean animals are living a lot longer. Acupuncture is just one part of wider treatment plan to make suffering animals comfortable so they can enjoy their life. The growing popularity is definitely client driven, people ask me if there’s something that can be done to reduce the drug doses their pets are being given. A 100% of people are sceptical in the beginning, but quickly become flabbergasted by the results.”