I came across this article on acupuncture for pets from Health Day on Yahoo! News. It lists some anecdotal stories about the effectiveness of acupuncture for muskuloskeletal disorders affecting animals. It also gives a very basic overview of what acupuncture is and how it helps.
As someone working on my Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine (acupuncture, herbs, massage) for humans, I have to say that I’ve seen acupuncture tremendously benefit people suffering from pain and mobility issues. Shoulders, knees, backs, neck, arthritis, injuries, repetitive strain, you name it. I’ve seen it work firsthand on dozens of people. It’s also great for many other chronic illnesses, but people seem to try it first for pain and then as they get more familiar with it, they find it helps out for many other issues.
So, I find it really cool that acupuncture’s benefits for pets is starting to be publicized in the mainstream. Furball, himself, hasn’t had acupuncture. However, his vet did recommend a few acupressure points to help with his urinary and digestive systems.
He had a blocked bladder about 5 years ago, so the Holistic Vet recommended BL-23, which is the “Back Shu” point for the kidney. Basically it helps strengthen the kidneys and promote urinary tract health for dealing with his struvite crystals. She also strongly recommended changing his diet to minimize carbohydrates and maximize protein.
For Furball’s digestion, she recommended BL-20 which is the “Back Shu” point of the spleen. In Chinese medicine, the spleen and stomach meridians are related and this point is excellent for strengthening digestion. She also recommended a couple of points in depressions located around the joints of his forelegs, but those have no human equivalent and are kind of hard to describe without actually feeling them for yourself.
I usually give Furball a little acupressure massage while he’s eating. He’s a hyper cat and not super touchy-feely, so it’s easiest for me to massage these points while he’s occupied intently on his food bowl. He seems to really like it. After the first time I gave him the massage, he came looking for me at his next mealtime because he wanted another one.
If you’re interested in trying acupressure for your pet, I’d really recommend visiting a Holistic Vet first. They’re licensed veterinarians who take additional training in acupuncture. You can find one by visiting the American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Association website. Furball’s vet had one of those plastic anatomy models of a cat, which really helped me understand exactly where the points were. She also demonstrated the correct amount of pressure and massage technique to use.
- A Natural Diet for Struvite Crystals and Furball’s Visit to the Holistic Vet
- Day 21: Natural Methods for Dealing with Struvite Crystals
- Day 25: Holistic Vets and Acupuncture for Cats – Find out how to locate a holistic vet near you.