Acupuncture for pets
New treatments are being used on cats and dogs to help ease pain and chronic conditions
Acupuncture, the traditional Chinese therapy in which needles are inserted into specific points on the body, has found a new market – pets.
A pet clinic in Shanghai caused
a stir recently by using acupuncture to help paralyzed pets such as dogs and cats.
Guoguo Little Animal Neurology and Acupuncture Health Center in Minhang district in Shanghai opened about five years ago.
Jin Rishan, a vet at the center, said he learned about animal acupuncture in South Korea. He opened the clinic with the help of two others and imported equipment from South Korea at a cost of 3,800 yuan ($576).
“I receive up to 20 pets a day,” Jin said. “The pets are mostly dogs and cats, but there are also other species, like rabbits. Once there was even a marten.”
In Jin’s center, equipment such as disposable acupuncture needles, electric acupuncture apparatus and infrared physiotherapy lamps can be seen in operation.
Animals are usually strapped on the apparatus and silver needles are inserted into their backs, legs and faces, while electric wires are attached to their bodies.
A course of acupuncture treatments consisting of 10 sessions cost 220 yuan. If owners prefer to let their pets stay in the clinic, there are extra costs.
Jin said the clinic has treated more than 2,000 pets.
For Wang, the clinic offered hope for her 4-month-old dog “Little Sister,” who was paralyzed after an accident two months ago.
“Vets in other pet clinics told me that my dog could not be healed, and that the only way to help her feel less pain was euthanasia,” Wang said. “She could not move or eat at all at first, and I had to give her liquid via a needle and tubes.”
With hope vanishing, Wang took her puppy to the acupuncture clinic hoping the traditional Chinese therapy might work.
“I have always believed in acupuncture,” Wang said. “I believe Little Sister will stand up and walk again.”
Wang takes her to the clinic almost every day except on Monday and Tuesday mornings when the clinic is closed. Each treatment session takes about 20 minutes and includes shots and moxibustion. Chinese medical powder has also been prescribed for Little Sister to take at home.
After a period of treatment, Wang’s dog can now eat by herself, she said, although standing up and walking are still difficult.
“Even if she cannot be healed, I will still stick with her,” Wang said.
Another option for treatment
“Old Companion” is a 3-year-old Schnauzer with lumber disc protrusion and incontinence. The dog’s owner Zhu Yuhua took him to the clinic after finding out about it online.
“Old Companion was always screaming in pain in the past, but he slept very well after the first acupuncture session,” Zhu said. “After the 12th session, he was able to stand up.” Zhu lives in Shanghai’s Jiading district in the north of the city. Taking Old Companion to the clinic means two hours of travel, high taxi costs and asking for sick leave from her company. But Zhu is determined to help her pet recover.
“Being with my dog and seeing him healthy makes me happy,” Zhu said.
Zhu said that recent media exposure has drawn a large number of people to the clinic, and that she has to stand in long queues to get her dog the therapy.
The prospect of pet acupuncture
For Jin, an increase in business does not mean he will open more branches just yet. He said that pet acupuncture was not easy to learn, and that he is focusing on finding the exact acupuncture points for pets.
Jin said that acupuncture is mainly focused on the human body, and that acupuncture points could be different for pets.
“My energy is limited, and I only have one assistant.” Jin said. “In addition, pet acupuncture is not that easy to master.”
Raising pets is becoming increasingly popular in Shanghai, which has more than 24 million people. The Shanghai Animal Health Inspection Institute said that more than 170 pet clinics were in operation in the city as of 2016.
“Treating animals’ illnesses with traditional Chinese therapy such as acupunture is not something new. In Japan, South Korea and some places in Europe and America, it is even more wide-spread than China,” said Tian Haiyan, head of Beijing Guanshang Animal Hospital in Beijing.
Acupuncture has become an increasingly popular treatment for animals as a way to ease their pain and lessen side effects of medicine.