What Is Veterinary Acupuncture For Dogs?
Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine that originated more than 2,000 years ago. In Eastern medicine, the practice of acupuncture is based on the theory that all living beings have an energy force called “chi" that circulates along invisible lines known as “meridians” in the body. Each meridian is said to be directly tied to a different organ system within the body. Wherever blockages develop that restrict the flow of energy, illness and disease begin to develop. By stimulating certain points on the meridians using thin needles, these energy blockages are cleared, the natural flow of energy is restored and in this way the body is able to heal itself.
From the perspective of western medicine, these same meridians trace points in the body with high concentrations of nerve endings that can trigger the release of naturally occurring substances to alleviate pain and induce healing.
Regardless of an individual's view of western or eastern medicine, perhaps the most important perspective is that of patients who have experienced improvements in quality of life after receiving acupuncture treatments.
How Can Acupuncture Help My Dog?
While acupuncture isn't appropriate for every dog or every situation, it can safely be used to treat dogs with a variety of health conditions, especially those suffering from pain or inflammation. Dogs with arthritis, digestive problems, kidney disease, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, asthma and certain neurological disorders can all benefit from acupuncture.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture works by stimulating certain areas of a dog’s body that contain large numbers of nerves. This can enhance blood circulation, decrease muscle spasms and cause the release of pain-relieving hormones (endorphins) in the brain.
What Will An Acupuncture Session Be Like For My Dog?
Canine acupuncture sessions generally last between 15 minutes and one hour, depending on the dog’s particular needs. Thin, flexible needles are inserted at certain points along the dog’s body and left there for several minutes before being removed. No anesthesia is required and the dog remains conscious during the entire process. Owners encouraged to be present during the sessions.
Where Are The Acupuncture Points On Dogs?
Dog acupuncture points are found on areas of the body where nerve bundles and blood vessels come together. These can be found all along the musculo-skeletal system.
Is Dog Acupuncture Painful?
When performed properly, acupuncture is typically a painless experience. A tiny prick may be felt when needles are inserted, and sometimes a duller, deeper sensation when the needles hit the acupuncture points. Most dogs relax and actually seem to enjoy this experience after the needles are in. In fact, many dogs are so relaxed during their sessions that they will drift off to sleep.
How Soon Will My Dog Experience Results?
Positive improvement is typically seen within a matter of days. Some dogs may appear to feel worse for a day or two after treatment. Others may become lethargic or sleepy. These effects are an indication that physiological changes are occurring, and they are most often followed by an improvement in the dog’s condition which differs depending on the condition being treated but commonly includes increased appetite and rejuvenated movement.
How Frequently Will My Dog Need A Veterinary Acupuncture Treatment?
The recommended veterinary acupuncture treatment frequency will depend on your dog’s condition. Typically, dogs start out receiving between one and three weekly sessions. Once the problem is under control, the number and frequency of sessions typically taper off to the minimum necessary to maintain quality of life.
Are there other types of Eastern medicine used to treat dogs?
In many cases, canine acupuncture is used in conjunction with traditional, Western medicine (i.e. medication, antibiotics and surgery) and other holistic approaches such as herbal supplements, massage and dietary changes.
At Riverstone Veterinary Group, our veterinary staff is here to help ensure that you and your dog are able to enjoy a long, healthy and happy relationship and we believe that starts with compassionate health care. Make an appointment today to discuss how veterinary acupuncture may be able to improve the quality of life for your dog.