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Leech Therapy in Animals 

Schlafender_Hund_mit_Egel

A lot of corresponding observations from different countries report on the search of animals (e.g. lame cattle with painful joint trouble) for waters inhabited by leeches. There, they stay in water and tolerate the leech bites patiently.

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One possible explanation of this behaviour is the long lasting evolutionary history of leeches. Leeches live on earth for at least 450 million years and might have developed a kind of partnership with their victims ("You give me your blood" - "I will heal you"). This partnership seems to be firmly rooted in the instinct of animals.

  

In the course of the veterinary use of leeches, the animals usually tend to stay calm and relaxed during the whole procedure. This might also be explained by the fact that leeches secrete anaesthetic and analgesic substances into blood and tissue during the initial phase of the sucking process. In the further process of sucking, additional substances are injected, including ingredients that are used as regular drugs in medicine. These substances comprise anti-coagulants like hirudin, the factor Xa inhibitor, or the tissue softener hyaluronidase. With modern analytical methods, further ingredients of the leech saliva could be identified. The therapeutic effects of these substances are blood circulation enhancement, anti-coagulation, pain relief, and anti-inflammation. So far, the best experience with the veterinary use of leeches originates from the treatment of horses, dogs, cats, and rodents.

 

An informative article about leech therapy in veterinary medicine can be found here (link)

 

Further information on the the use of leech therapy in animals can be found on the homepage www.dgtha.de