By Gwenn Canlas I Published: July 26, 2020
The life span and the quality of life of both man and beast have been enormously prolonged by the advances of modern medicine, yet many veterinarians are still turning to some ancient form of medicine to help their patients.
The age-old technique of acupuncture is beginning to enhance traditional veterinary medicine and further benefit man’s best friend.
By now, readers who regularly follow my column already know that inserting fine needles at specific points helps the body heal itself.
Acupuncture rebalances the body’s energy for optimum health.
Acupuncture can be especially beneficial for dogs with chronic pain and poor health, too. It relaxes muscles both on the insertion site and elsewhere in the body, thus relieving pain both locally and generally.
The release of naturally occurring pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory substances through acupuncture reduces your dog’s pain and discomfort.
What conditions can acupuncture treat?
Dogs with chronic back pain, even those with serious spinal cord conditions, may benefit from acupuncture, as well as those with less serious medical conditions.
Acupuncture may alleviate pain and improve joint range of motion for dogs with arthritis, and degenerative joint disease.
Metabolic disease, indigestion, allergies, separation anxiety, trauma-related pain, and inflammation are all examples of common canine ailments that can be treated with dog acupuncture.
Much as acupuncture helps with pain reduction and inflammation associated with a whole range of medical conditions, one cannot overemphasize the fact that traditional medicine is still the first line of treatment for infection, cancer, and major organ disease.
Notwithstanding, some problems associated with cancer, or the side effects of cancer treatment — chemotherapy and radiation — such as nausea, poor appetite, and tissue inflammation may be addressed through acupuncture.
Dogs with metabolic diseases associated with impaired organ function, diabetes, kidney or liver failure, pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease, and Addison’s disease have been known to experience a decrease in nausea and an increase in appetite after some acupuncture treatments.
While acupuncture may not cure a condition, it may make it more tolerable.
Is acupuncture safe for dogs?
While most pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs are quite safe, they may affect organ function.
To minimize the risk, your veterinarian may require routine laboratory testing to closely monitor organ function. Acupuncture does not have systemic side effects.
It may help decrease the number of pain medications needed to treat your dog.
As an adjunct treatment to medical therapy, acupuncture is a good complement to antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. As with other treatment protocols, the combination of both therapies give the best results when neither method can provide the desired response alone.
What is an acupuncture treatment like?
Expect your dog to be a little anxious in a new clinical setting, but most become very relaxed after needle insertion.
As with humans, acupuncture is often such a calming experience that they fall asleep during the treatment. It may last from 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the condition being addressed.
Given the fact that the effects of acupuncture treatment are cumulative, there is a benefit to repeated sessions.
The treatment protocol may require one to three treatments per week for several weeks.
As the dog’s condition improves, the frequency of treatment is decreased and visits are scheduled less frequently.
Our goal is to achieve the highest level of improvement and maintain that level with the fewest number of treatments necessary.
Veterinary acupuncture has been practiced for approximately 4,500 years and the original practitioners were called “horse priests.”
Some say that its effects could be neurological and some contend that it could relieve inflammation in the body, but most people agree that it does, in fact, work.