WATCH: Pet owners turn to Chinese acupuncture to treat their ailing cats and dogs

Five-year-old husky Lulu got into a fight with her sister in June and injured her lumbar spine, paralysing her two hind legs.

Her owner, Shanghai resident Dong Hanyang, has to push her in a pram when they go out.

Like a rising number of pet owners in recent years, Dong has turned to alternative therapy when conventional Western medicine has apparently failed.

Almost every day, she brings Lulu to a Shanghai TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Neurology & Acupuncture Animal Health Center, which specialises in acupuncture and moxibustion treatment for animals.

The Chinese traditional practice on humans has a history of more than 2,000 years but has only gained popularity amongst animals in the past few years.

Dogs and cats are inserted with needles paired with mild electric currents, followed by a moxibustion treatment that heats up dried mugwort herbs to stimulate particular acupuncture points.

Acupuncture is one of the most widely-practiced strands of alternative medicine in China and is based on the theory that inserting and manipulating fine needles at specific points in the body helps to promote the flow of "Qi", or energy.

Documented scientific evidence for its effects is patchy and critics warn that serious diseases can be transmitted through the use of contaminated needles.

But that has not stopped pet owners who brought their beloved animals in for treatment from touting its benefits.

According to Dong, after more than 30 treatments, Lulu has been able to move her hind legs slightly.

Jin Rishan, a specialist at the Shanghai TCM animal clinic, says the centre has treated over 2,000 dogs and cats with neurological problems since it opened four years ago, and at least 80 per cent of the animals have showed improvements in mobility.

A single acupuncture session costs 260 yuan (S$53) and lasts for about 45 minutes.

on SPH Brightcove

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