Veterinary TCM Principles in Action

Many individuals are unaware that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture and alternative pain modalities exist for our pets. Although non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can be effective when used for short-term pain control, many dogs and cats have sensitive stomachs or metabolic issues that preclude them from taking these medications over the long term. Often, these medications lose their efficacy when taken chronically, or worse; they can cause irreversible damage to our pets’ renal or gastrointestinal systems. For our feline friends, there is no pain medication labeled for long-term treatment of chronic pain.

Acupuncture and therapeutic laser are two of the safest, most effective pain control modalities available to veterinarians. Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and has been used on horses, cats, dogs, birds and even exotics. Acupuncture has been proven through peer-reviewed studies and publications to increase immunity, increase beta-endorphin levels and reduce pain. As the Western world begins to integrate acupuncture into traditional therapies, there will undoubtedly be more research proving the efficacy of acupuncture.

Although many of the acupoints used on animals were transposed from human anatomy, location can be difficult because there is such a difference between animal species. Those animals that resist needling are good candidates for therapeutic laser. Laser therapy is the use of specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to create healing effects on a cellular level. It has been FDA approved since 2002 for treating many conditions from chronic, non-healing wounds to osteoarthritis.

There are numerous case studies and research demonstrating the efficacy of laser therapy. The laser treatments, like acupuncture, are cumulative in nature and there are little to no side effects associated with treatment. It does not burn, cut or inflict pain in any way. Most animals feel nothing more than subtle warmth at the site of the treatment. Using laser therapy in conjunction with acupuncture has reduced the time it takes for a patient to heal from a particular condition. They complement each other so well that the manufacturers of some lasers include an acupuncture setting in its software.

Although veterinary acupuncture and laser therapy may still be in its infancy in some areas of the country, pet owners are starting to realize the wonderful benefits that these treatments can provide to our beloved companions.

We know our pets as members of the family and attribute many anthropomorphic qualities to them. They may love to play, greet people or may be more stoic and just love to be with their families and no one else. Many of us also know that genetics and breed can contribute to our pets’ personalities. However, what is foreign to most people is that personality has a lot do with our pets, constitution. To the TCM practitioner, everything has a constitution. Constitution is believed to play a huge role in individual balance and is thought to make pets more susceptible to certain diseases.

Not all pets will fall under one element, as many have aspects of different elements.

Chris Lewis is a certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, located at 2102 N Palafox St., Pensacola. For more information call 850-433-2812.

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