close up of dog receiving acupuncture

Eastern Medicine for Pets

Eastern medicine is an ancient approach to health, which includes acupuncture (precise placement of thin needles to stimulate nerve centers, improve blood circulation and release pain-relieving hormones), along with Chinese herbal formulas, food recommendations, and sometimes massage therapy.

Western medicine defines health as the absence of disease. Eastern medicine defines health differently – it states that health is when the body is in balance with the different life forces (yin, yang, qi and blood). Acupuncture, Chinese herbals, food therapy and massage are the tools used to regain balance in the body.

Shallowford Animal Hospital is proud to offer pet Eastern medicine services, and our team looks forward to helping your pet feel their best.

Why Would My Pet Need Eastern Medicine?

Eastern medicine is a beneficial treatment at all stages of life and is a standard alternative and complementary therapy for companion animals like horses, dogs and cats.

Your pet may be a candidate for Eastern medicine for various reasons. If his or her current treatment needs assistance, or you are interested in a different approach, their veterinarian may recommend Eastern medicine. Older pets can benefit from Eastern medicine if they cannot undergo surgery due to their age or medical condition.

Pet Health Conditions Eastern Medicine Can Address:

Some (there are more) of the main conditions veterinary acupuncture can treat include:

  • Idiopathic epilepsy: Acupuncture can reduce seizures for pets diagnosed with epilepsy.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: If your pet frequently suffers from diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues, acupuncture can help relieve their symptoms
  • Hormonal or metabolic conditions: Patients with hormonal conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism or Addison’s disease may experience relief through acupuncture. If your pet has liver or kidney disease, they may also benefit from this treatment.
  • Internal medicine conditions: Eastern medicine can have benefits for the liver, the urinary system, the pancreas, the heart and lungs, and the nervous system.
  • Cancer side effects: Acupuncture is an effective treatment method for improving cancer symptoms and quality of life. Some benefits of acupuncture in your pet’s cancer treatment include increased energy levels and appetite while reducing nausea and pain. For those pet’s for whom surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy is not a good option, Eastern medicine can be helpful in managing symptoms and possibly extending life a bit longer.
  • Surgery: When used in conjunction with medication, acupuncture treatment can help relieve post-operative pain and reduce anxiety surrounding surgery. Intervertebral disc disease and nerve pain: Pets with a pinched nerve, bulging disc or spinal arthritis may experience a reduction in pain levels with an acupuncture treatment. This is one of the conditions that is often strongly responsive to Eastern medicine.
  • Arthritis and degenerative joint disease: One of the most common uses of acupuncture is treating chronic pain and mobility loss from joint disease.

Many scientific studies show that acupuncture can also serve as a supplemental therapy to aid full-body wellness. If you wish to pursue an alternative treatment, following a veterinarian’s recommendation is best to ensure your pet experiences the best results.

How Does Eastern Medicine Work?

Before your pet starts their treatment, you and your pet will meet with Dr. Mabe. During this visit, your pet will undergo a general medical assessment, and Dr. Mabe will review your pet’s medical history, as well as lab tests and radiographs. She will then perform an examination and explain what to expect during the treatment process.

If your pet is nervous in a new environment or moves around often, you may need to restrain them to keep them still during acupuncture. After the first visit, many pets tend to sit and lie quietly for all following acupuncture sessions.

Many patients relax after the acupuncturist inserts the first few needles into the acupuncture points. Depending on your pet’s condition, their acupuncture session may last 20 to 30 minutes. Our team will then outline a treatment protocol for follow-up sessions ranging from one to three sessions per week for a few weeks. As your pet’s symptoms improve, they’ll visit our office less frequently.

Acupuncture and Eastern medicine are often a cumulative process, so your pet will experience the most benefits with repeated sessions. However, the goal is to achieve the most significant level of improvement with as few treatments as possible. While acupuncture has few side effects, some pets may be sore, stiff or tired after treatment. These symptoms typically relieve themselves 24 to 48 hours after treatment.

Acupuncture is a safe and comfortable treatment process. Most pets feel no pain during the procedure because the needles are as thin as a single strand of hair. Since acupuncture is so relaxing, many pets fall asleep during the process, and most do not require sedation during their treatment.

Chinese herbal formulas are felt to accentuate the effects of acupuncture. While western understanding of how these work is still evolving, many of them have been shown to have specific physiologic benefits in research that is being conducted recently. Most are well tolerated, though occasionally gastrointestinal upset can occur. (If that is the case, different formulations can be tried, or herbal therapy discontinued).

Finally, we all understand the benefits of good nutrition. Eastern medicine takes this a step further, by observation of specific energetic benefits of different foods, to help correct imbalances in the body.

It is possible to use just one of the modalities above. Using a combination has increased effect, but there are some situations where using all the above modalities is not in the pet’s best interest. Eastern medicine is flexible in this way!

What Are Its Benefits?

Eastern medicine is quickly gaining popularity due to its success as a supplementary treatment method. It has many has many benefits, including:

  • Natural healing: Acupuncture promotes a natural healing process byvimproving blood flow to help your pet’s body heal.
  • Nerve stimulation: Using acupuncture helps to stimulate nerve function, which may improve wellness throughout the entire body.
  • Improved circulation: Acupuncture treatment encourages healthy blood circulation by increasing the dilation of constricted vessels.
  • Endorphin release: When a pet receives acupuncture treatment, the process aids in relieving muscle spasms and releasing beneficial hormones, such as endorphins and cortisol.
  • Holistic wellness: Acupuncture treatment approaches your pet’s body as a complete system with a focus on improving overall health.
  • Pain relief: Acupuncture helps to relax the muscles near the insertion sites to provide general and local pain relief.
  • Waste removal: Since acupuncture improves the nervous and circulation systems, your pet’s body can naturally increase processes to remove waste and other toxins to improve overall health.

Help Your Pet Feel Better with Eastern Medicine Services from Shallowford Animal Hospital

Take control of your pet’s health and help them relieve their symptoms with our veterinary Eastern medicine services. Our expert team has years of experience providing treatments and will ensure your pet feels relaxed and comfortable throughout the treatment process. To learn more about our services in Chattanooga call 423.892.6671.