Who hasn’t heard about acupuncture by now? Or massage therapy? If we haven’t had one or the other ourselves, we all know at least one person who’s turned to that type of alternative medicine. Your insurance might even offer you a refund if you send in your receipts! But were you aware that these therapies are also applicable to animals?
Acupuncture for animals?!
Today, what we call traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM) – and which includes acupuncture as a treatment modality – is relatively new for westerners. On the eastern side of the world, however, this medical paradigm has existed for thousands of years.2 In fact, the oldest structured document having to do with acupuncture dates from the second century BCE.3-4 But, according to certain legends, the initial steps in this type of medicine may have been taken as much as 10,000 years ago. On the other hand, China itself has had doubts about its traditional medicine: it was removed from the curriculum of the Imperial Institute of Medicine in 1822, and banished completely from medicine in 1929. After the arrival of the communist government, in 1949, its legality was restored.3 And since that time, researchers have been busy demystifying its principles.
Uniting to triumph: one more weapon against pain
TVCM is capable of treating numerous health conditions, just as western medicine does. What it probably treats best, or at least most frequently and with the most verifiable success, is pain. TVCM is excellent when it comes to helping with neurological, joint and muscle aches. Which is why geriatric patients derive so much benefit from it. More and more physicians, those working with humans as well as with animals, are opening up to alternative medicines. Additionally, the number of scientific studies on the subject is steadily growing. In Québec, to be able to practice TVCM you have to belong to the Ordre des médecins vétérinaires du Québec. For veterinarians who practice it, this option multiplies treatment possibilities for their patients: if TVCM is effective in itself, that benefit greatly increases when used in combination with western medicine, and vice versa. This is what’s known as integrative medicine.2 Don’t people say that there’s strength in numbers?
And at the Biodôme?
Some animals in the Biodôme receive regular MVTC treatments. Better still, when the institution reopens, research projects will be conducted with the aim of a more fully stocked toolbox for veterinarians and of improving animal wellbeing.