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Cross-Category Innovation, Acupuncture for Pets

It is a cornerstone of Chinese traditional medicine, based on the belief that illnesses are caused by imbalances in the 'yin' and 'yang' of a person's body.

Now, pet owners are turning in their droves to acupuncture as a means of curing their sickly pets, in particular cats and dogs suffering from spinal injuries.

In Shanghai, one practitioner is offering acupuncture as an alternative to putting down paralysed pets - using a device which would not look out of place in a medieval torture chamber.

The machine sticks long needles into the pets' bodies and then passes an electric current through them.

Specific breeds of dogs are prone to back injuries or paralysis, conditions which commonly lead to the animals being put down.

But for some in China, any condition can be treated by using alternative therapy, such as acupuncture.

Shanghai TCM Neurology and Acupuncture Animal Health Centre has received 2,000 cats and dogs over four years, Chinese media said.

"Seventy percent of the animals here suffer from spinal disc herniation, leading to paralysis of the hind legs or all four legs," Jin Rishan, a practitioner at the clinic told AFP news agency, which also said the clinic is operating at full capacity of around 20 patients per day.

"Western medical practices can't do much," he said.

For one pooch who recently underwent the procedure - Dan Jiao - it seems to be working.

The dog suffered a broken back after a fall but after several rounds of acupuncture, his owner says he can now limp on all fours.

Pets have become popular in China in recent years, and owners often lavish huge amounts on money on their dogs and cats.

Pet grooming is a booming business in China, where dogs are often seen wearing expensive coats and other accessories.

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