Veterinary Acupuncture for Dogs
Just like many human doctors, veterinarians like to stay abreast of new evidence and science showing how we can better serve our patients, being able to offer alternative therapies where they can appropriately be applied. We have thus found that many dogs greatly benefit from acupuncture. This can often give a lifeline to dogs who have not responded to our typical go-to therapies for certain ailments. As veterinarians, it’s very important to us to be able to offer you and your dog alternative therapies and make you aware of all of the options available to help the health and quality of life of your dog.
If you think your dog may benefit from acupuncture, be sure to talk to a local veterinarian to learn more about his or her approach.
What is Dog Acupuncture?
Acupuncture for dogs is the process of using needles to apply pressure into very specific anatomic locations on your pet’s body. The specific locations on your dog’s body are typically in areas where there is a higher concentration of nerves and blood vessels. Applying pressure with special needles in these highly specific locations can decrease inflammation, increase blood flow, and balance any imbalances that may be going on in your dog’s body.
Acupuncture has become more common in Western medicine over the past few years, and it is now becoming much more common in the veterinary field as well. The Eastern medicine understanding of acupuncture is that there are “paired meridians of energy that flow on either side of the body.” Illness, according to this concept, occurs when there is excess, deficiency, or blockage of these energy channels, which leads to disease and the accompanying symptoms your dog may display.
Western medicine understandings of acupuncture involve the evidence that these specific anatomic locations have a higher collection of nerves and blood vessels. By stimulating these areas, you can help the release of certain substances into the body to relieve pain by decreasing inflammation and increasing circulation.
Reasons to Use Acupuncture For Your Dog
The most common use of acupuncture for dogs is to help decrease pain from arthritis. Some dogs may not be able to take common pain medications, as their body can’t handle them and the meds make them sick. Acupuncture can be a huge help for relieving these dogs’ pain. Acupuncture can also be used in conjunction with pain medication in order to help control your dog’s pain, allowing you to decrease the dose of pain medication your dog is receiving.
Other reasons to enlist the help of dog acupuncture:
- Neurologic conditions - such as neck and back pain - commonly referred to as intervertebral disk disease (IVDD)
- Skin disorders
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
What Happens During a Dog Acupuncture Session?
Dogs usually tolerate acupuncture sessions very well. Most veterinarians who perform it want you to be present with your dog during the session if at all possible, to make sure your dog is relaxed and comfortable. It’s important for your dog to be as still as possible in order to locate the specific points on their body where the needles should be positioned. Once each individual point is identified, the sterile acupuncture needles are gently placed into your dog’s skin, usually only a few millimeters deep. The needles are then left in place for anywhere between 5-20 minutes, depending on what is being treated. Once the session is complete, the needles are gently removed.
For some dogs, you may notice an immediate benefit. However, it may take up to 2-6 veterinary acupuncture treatment sessions before you may see a noticeable improvement in the condition of other dogs. Depending on the reasons for the dog acupuncture sessions, your veterinarian may recommend your pet receive a session once a week or multiple times a week for a few weeks to a few months.
Is Acupuncture A Good Option For Your Dog?
We are starting to understand that combining both Eastern and Western methods of medicine in a complementary style offers new opportunities for health and quality of life for our patients. Using them both together can provide better outcomes for you and your dog.
Reach out to a veterinarian near you to find out if your precious pooch is a good candidate for dog acupuncture.