Horses, Elephants, Fish: Can You Treat These Animals With Acupuncture?

July 18, 2018

Huisheng Xie, DVM, PhD, clinical professor of small animal clinical science at the University of Florida, founder of the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, discusses some of the more unusual animals that can be treated with acupuncture.

Huisheng Xie, DVM, PhD, clinical professor of small animal clinical science at the University of Florida, founder of the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, discusses some of the more unusual animals that can be treated with acupuncture.

"In addition to canine acupuncture practice, I often do the performance horse, race horse. That's probably about my 30% of my practice. Occasionally we'll do acupuncture for the bird-the bird that has behavioral issues. Actually, we have 80% chance to stop feather picking for the bird. And occasionally I also use acupuncture for reptiles like turtles, snakes, and alligators. Also, sometimes we use acupuncture for zoo animals.

The most excitement for me is to treat elephants. That's probably about, my first case was actually about 20 years ago. The elephant is big and I tried to use normal needles, but I could not get in. So I had to get kind of creative, I used hypodermic needles. First goes through the skin, and then there is a hole in hypodermic needles, so acupuncture could go to that center through that hole and able to reach the acupuncture point in elephants. I've treated probably a dozen elephants. Primary for them is shoulder arthritis, there are some feet problems, there are some immunodeficient problems, actually all those 12, there are about 12 elephants that actually respond to acupuncture very well. Initially, the elephant could not raise up, but after 5 or 6 sessions, the elephant can raise up, they can raise up at my level. Initially they can barely raise up from the ground, so we know actually elephants do better after acupuncture. In addition, some animals, some of my students actually use acupuncture for fish and also for ocean animals like a dolphin for instance."