This post was updated April 2018.
How familiar are you with acupuncture for dogs? Take the canine acupuncture quiz below to test your knowledge.
This once alternative form of veterinary care is now widely used by holistic and mainstream veterinarians to treat a variety of health problems. It is often recommended for dogs with spinal disorders and neurological conditions. Acupuncture was one of the first therapies I explored when Sophie began to show signs of paralysis in her hind legs.
What Is Canine Acupuncture
Canine acupuncture has its roots in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine. The treatment involves placing small gauge needles under the skin, in specific target areas where the nerves and blood vessels come together. The goal is to promote the natural healing response in your dog’s body.
The American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA) says, “Needling certain spots of the body regulate the flow of “Chi” (energy), which flows through and nourishes the tissues and organs.”
Acupuncture releases chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals increase blood flow and stimulate the central nervous system which in turn reduces pain and inflammation while improving the function of organs. In plain English, acupuncture gives your dog’s body an enhanced way to heal.
Take The Dog Acupuncture Quiz
- Acupuncture for animals is a new treatment? (True or False) False – The first acupuncture procedure was performed 3,000 years ago to treat an elephant in India.
- Acupuncture can be used on young puppies as well as senior dogs. (True or False) True – Dogs of every age may benefit from this treatment.
- It is painful for dogs to receive an acupuncture treatment. (True or False) False – The process uses very fine needles. Studies have shown that 95% of dogs do not even notice them. Some owners report their dogs become very relaxed and fall asleep during a treatment.
- Acupuncture works because of its placebo effect. (True or False) False – Dog’s don’t understand the psychology behind a placebo effect. Acupuncture works because it releases pain relieving and anti-inflammatory substances that promote healing. It improves blood flow and brings oxygen to injured areas while also removing metabolic wastes and toxins. A clinical study with 65 dogs who had mobility problems found that 70% improved after receiving acupuncture therapy. The gait of each dog improved by at least 50% .
- My dog might get hepatitis from the needles. (True or False) False – The U.S. requires all licensed acupuncturists to use only disposable needles. The only way hepatitis could be passed along is if a needle was contaminated with the virus.
- Acupuncture is only used to treat pain. (True or False) False – While acupuncture does reduce pain in dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia, joint disease, disc disease, sprains and muscle spams, it benefits these conditions as well:
- Neurological Problem – Epilepsy, stroke, deafness and paralysis from disc disease
- Gastrointestinal Conditions – Colitis, chronic diarrhea and vomiting
- Systemic Inflammatory Conditions – Chronic skin inflammation, allergies and lick granulomas
- Respiratory Illnesses – Sinus problems, pneumonia and chronic cough
- Urinary Disorders – Incontinence, cystitis and urine retention
One Last Tip
If you decide that canine acupuncture is the way to go for your dog’s ailment be sure the veterinarian you choose is licensed with the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture. This professional organization provides certification for veterinarians who want to add Traditional Chinese medicine into their practice. Their website also helps pet owners locate a veterinary acupuncturist in their area.
My Personal Experience
Sophie went for acupuncture treatments during the first six months of her illness. I believe it slowed the degenerative process that ultimately took away her ability to walk. We used the treatment in conjunction with traditional veterinary medicine and I was happy we took that route.
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