Two dogs that were once paralyzed and can now walk thanks to a new acupuncture treatment from the National Taiwan University (NTU) Veterinary Hospital were introduced at a press conference yesterday.
Results from the first veterinary Oriental medicine acupuncture clinic and its educational medical services were presented at the press conference.
A 13-year-old schnauzer named King Kong became totally paralyzed after falling down at a pet shop last year and a 17-year-old beagle named Chiu-chiu was diagnosed with bone spurs and became paralyzed two years ago.
After being diagnosed by Western medicine as unsuitable for surgery, their owners turned to acupuncture and now both dogs are back on their feet and can walk again without assistance after months of treatment.
The man who saved the two canines, chief veterinarian Liu -Ching-ming (劉金鳴) said acupuncture treatment for animals had been practiced for centuries in China.
However, the method had only become a trend in global veterinary medicine over the past decade and was introduced at the hospital two years ago, he said.
In the nearly two years of acupuncture treatment at NTU’s -Veterinary Hospital, the clinic has handled about 150 cases, with a success rate of about 80 percent, Liu said.
Oriental medicine and acupuncture provide alternative treatment methods that can support Western medicine, but Liu said that injured or sick pets should still be given a Western medical diagnosis before taking oriental medicine.
The cases in which animal acupuncture has proved most effective are those when a paralyzed animal is diagnosed as being unsuitable for general anesthetic, when invasive treatment is unsuitable or when the animal needs to recover faster after surgery.
Acupuncture treatment costs between NT$800 and NT$1,000, Liu said, adding that sometimes owners were unwilling to pay this much for treatment, or believed it would take too long.
In addition, acupuncture is unable to heal animals that have been paralyzed for too long and is unsuitable if the animal suffers from bad physical injuries, such as a severe spinal fracture, he said.
NTU’s School of Veterinary Medicine currently has acupuncture programs to train future veterinarians through internships at the hospital, Liu said
NTU College of Bioresources and Agriculture dean Hsu Yuan-tai (徐源泰) said sometimes veterinarians have a harder time treating their animal patients than doctors who treat human patients.
Because animals are unable to communicate their symptoms, vets must observe them carefully to better understand their condition and needs, he said, adding that while people all have the same body structure, vets have to treat a wide range of very different animal species.