Vet doing acupuncture treatmentWhen a pet is diagnosed with cancer, their human family members are often on a mission to find answers. Thankfully, we have more options than ever before when it comes to treating animal neoplasia. Some treatments are more traditional – such as chemotherapy and radiation, while others fall into the alternative or complementary category. Learn how Oakland Veterinary Referral Services is making life better for our patients by utilizing acupuncture for pets with cancer.

Not Just Needles

While some people may turn a skeptical eye towards treatments like acupuncture, alternative non-traditional treatments are gaining popularity. Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and is a mainstay of Eastern medicine.

Tiny needles placed strategically in acupuncture points are used to treat a wide variety of symptoms and diseases. Each acupuncture point has a specific associated action when it is stimulated, making them strategic resources for helping sick pets. Often used in conjunction with other therapies, acupuncture can be a valuable part of treatment for many veterinary patients when properly performed.

While many of acupuncture’s physiological effects on pets have yet to be studied, it can have a variety of positive physical effects and has long been used to help control muscle spasms, stimulate nerves, increase hormone release, and support circulation.

Acupuncture for Pets with Cancer

When treating a pet with cancer, one of our main goals is to better each individual patient’s quality of life. Besides the effects of the cancer itself, keep in mind that many of the treatment techniques for most cancers can have side effects that impact quality of life as well.

While chemotherapy for pets differs from that done on people, animals still experience side effects such as nausea, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and bone marrow suppression. These can dramatically impact quality of life.

We know that acupuncture can combat a variety of these types of side effects and symptoms of cancer. Acupuncture for pets with cancer can help to manage problems including:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Nausea
  • Immune dysfunction
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fatigue

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is thought that cancer is caused by a Qi (Chi) deficiency, which acupuncture is also thought to help correct. For pets that need to have surgery, acupuncture can also help to stimulate the post-surgical healing process.

Acupuncture can play an important role in our arsenal of tools to fight cancer in our pets. While it is not a cure in and of itself, when used in conjunction with other appropriate treatments, acupuncture can be a valuable tool in reaching our goal of a cancer-free patient with a good quality of life.