As a practitioner studying to become certified in acupuncture and offering this option for patients, there is always a bit of anxiety as to whether or not this new thing I am learning will be effective and what types of ailment it could be used for. Also, the ultimate guiding post of- First, do no harm, is something that plaque my mind.
The last 15- 20 years have seen study in acupuncture and prove that they do indeed cause physiological changes that release endogenous (from your own body) endorphins, activate lymphocytes and increase white blood cells. Needling is not the only way to stimulate an acu- point. There is moxibustion, electro- acupuncture, aqua-acupuncture, hemo- acupuncture, acupressure and pneumo- acupuncture.
As it turns out, acu- points and meridians are not just imaginary points on a body. Anatomically, acu- points can be grouped into 4 types- motor, midline, nerve and muscle/tendon.
Motor points- where nerve enters a muscle
Midline points- midline of the back and midline along the abdomen
Nerve points- points around area with abundant nerve fibers
Muscle/tendon points- Junction of muscle and tendon.
Helps with Pain
Perhaps the most common perception of acupuncture is that it helps with pain. Especially in chronic condition. Another application of pain relief through acupuncture is in older geriatric patients who may not be able to take conventional therapy, for example, non- steroidal anti- inflammatory are usually contraindicated in patients with kidney and liver problems, which unfortunately many older patients have. If a patient is difficult to give medication to, one might consider acupuncture to help with pain as well. Acupuncture seems to be more widely accepted in performance horses. This is probably because horses are not allowed to race with drugs in their system and acupuncture provides a good alternative for pain relief from strenuous activities these guys go through. The effect of acupuncture in horses are also Smore dramatic than in domestic pets.
While it is generally safer than drugs, there are certain precautions one must take. Fewer points are used in weaker and older patients initially until they can tolerate more. Moxibustion in summer can induce too much heat, hemo- acupuncture should be used with caution in winter as loss of blood can lead to body being too cold.
I probably would avoid putting needles in the animals on their face, as you cannot really tell them to not move like you do humans. We must protect the vital organs like the eyes and avoid accidental ingestion of the needles. First Do No Harm.
Never use needle on CV- 8, never use electro- acupuncture on animals with seizure history. Always check what points can and cannot be used when treating a pregnant patient (Although this would probably be very rare since most veterinary patients are spayed.) Never put a needle into a tumour or an open wound.