If you’re considering acupuncture for dogs, you’re not alone.
I personally began using Acupuncture out of a feeling of desperation. My Great Dane, Gigi, was having severe chronic pain from her Wobblers diagnosis.
When modern medicine was not an option for Gigi and her pain management as she was not a candidate for traditional spinal surgery- we were left with the option of lifelong pain medications- and worst- lifelong pain.
I decided to try and start searching for a treatment protocol that could relieve pain and help my dog’s condition.
As pet owners, we will do anything we can for our pet’s health. I was motivated to help Gigi with her degenerative joint disease.
MY JOURNEY TO FINDING ACUPUNCTURE FOR DOGS
In my quest in understanding my dog’s health, I found Canine Acupuncture.
I was lucky to stumble upon an amazing canine acupuncturist who’s vet clinic was practically in my backyard.
I took Gigi in for her first acupuncture session.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE VETERINARY MEDICINE vs. WESTERN MEDICINE
What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
TCM is a system of medicine that has been used for over 4000 years to treat human and animal patients.
The goal of TCM is to achieve balance in the body and prevent disease.
TCM encompasses several modalities including acupuncture, Chinese herbs, food therapy, and tui-na (massage).
Alternatively, Western Medicine is the system of medicine most commonly used in the United States.
The goal of Western Medicine is to treat disease with medications or surgery.
Common modalities used in Western Medicine include, but are not limited to, pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and radiotherapy.
CERTIFIED VETERINARY ACUPUNCTURIST
So how does acupuncture fit into all of this?
A Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist is somewhat of a mix between both!
They have completed an accredited veterinary program and then gone on to complete an additional 300-hour acupuncture certification to be able to perform Veterinary Acupuncture.
This combination of Eastern and Western medicine is what makes Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists so unique.
They are able to provide comprehensive care to their patients by utilizing both systems of medicine.
WHAT PET OWNERS SHOULD EXPECT WITH DOG ACUPUNCTURE
At Gigi’s first appointment, I was anxious to see whether or not this acupuncture treatment would be effective to alleviate pain.
When I first arrived, I explained my dog’s medical records and her amazing Veterinary Acupuncturist began to explain the treatment of Acupuncture therapy.
Pet parents should expect acupuncture sessions to be virtually painless for their dog’s body, and should see a healing response within just a few hours of time.
A typical acupuncture session lasts for about 30 minutes with a trained Acupuncturist.
Let’s talk about some of the things I learned at my first animal acupuncture appointment with Gigi.
The needles used on dogs are much smaller in diameter than the needles used on humans.
They are also solid, as opposed to the hollow-cored needles used on humans.
The smaller size and solidity of the needles make them much less painful when inserted into your dog.
They are a little bit intimidating to pet parents at first, but rest assured that acupuncture work is not painful.
There are over 365 acupuncture points on a dog’s body.
The most commonly used points are located on the legs, neck, and back.
These points correspond to areas where your dog is most likely to have pain or discomfort.
Acupuncture for dogs will rely on these pressure points to help ease pain in the body.
Acupuncture needles are inserted into the skin and muscle tissue.
The depth of needle insertion will vary depending on the size of your dog and the location of the acupuncture point.
Most needles are only inserted a few millimeters below the skin surface.
Once the needles are in place, they are left there for 20-30 minutes.
The needles enhance blood circulation by opening up the blood vessels and by releasing endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.
After the needles are removed, your dog will be relaxed and may even fall asleep.
Acupuncture sessions usually last between 30-60 minutes.
First, the Veterinarian will conduct a general medical assessment.
Then, they will begin to perform acupuncture.
During this time, your dog will be lying on a comfortable table or bed.
The acupuncturist will insert the needles into your dog’s skin at various points on their body.
After the needles are inserted, your dog will be left to relax for a few minutes.
Most dogs enjoy this part of the treatment and will often fall asleep. Pet parents can sit with their pup the entire time their dog is receiving acupuncture treatments.
AFTER THE TREATMENT
After the treatment is finished, the needles will be removed and your dog will be able to go home.
Most dogs feel relaxed and calm after an acupuncture session.
It is important to avoid letting your dog run or play for at least 30 minutes after the treatment. You can use a crate to keep them calm, if needed.
This will give the acupuncture time to work and will help prevent your dog from getting injured.
Most people who take their pup for dog acupuncture report that their dog is extremely happy and pain-free for several days or even weeks post-treatment.
THE BENEFITS OF ACUPUNCTURE FOR DOGS
Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of health problems.
There has been pain relieving effects for medical conditions such as hip dysplasia, joint disease, joint inflammation, Addison’s disease, neurological disorders (like Gigi!), gastrointestinal problems, musculoskeletal diseases, metabolic diseases, diabetes mellitus, and even treating pain from something as severe as a spinal cord injury.
Acupuncture has also been known to be helpful in treating behavioral problems such as separation anxiety and fear of fireworks.
Overall, acupuncture is a safe and effective way to treat a variety of health conditions in dogs.
When I originally took Gigi to her first dog acupuncture treatment, I really did not expect the results that I was about to receive for her.
HOW DOES CANINE ACUPUNCTURE ACTUALLY WORK
Canine acupuncture works when a Veterinary Acupuncturist inserts needles into specific areas on a dog’s body.
The goal is to release endorphins, increase blood circulation, and reduce inflammation.
Acupuncture can be used to treat a wide variety of health conditions in dogs.
It is important to note that acupuncture should only be performed by either licensed Veterinary Acupuncturists or Chiropractors.
ANIMAL ACUPUNCTURE AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
The nervous system of a dog is similar to that of human patients.
There are acupuncture points located all over the body that correspond to different areas of the dog’s body.
When the needles are inserted into these specific points, it helps to release endorphins and reduce pain, providing blood flow and releasing tissue inflammation.
First and foremost: Acupuncture helps to increase blood circulation and reduce inflammation which can be beneficial to your dog’s condition, pretty much no matter WHAT their condition is.
WHEN VETERINARY MEDICINE IS NOT HELPING A DOGS SUFFERING
Since prescription medication and some traditional medicine does not have anti inflammatory substances but rather can cause inflammation, alternative therapies like acupuncture work can be extremely beneficial to improve blood circulation.
Veterinary medicine is an incredible resource that has helped our dogs in so many ways. Most pet parents will admit to being extraordinarily grateful for their Veterinarian.
However, there are times when traditional medicine is not enough to help a dog suffering from pain or an injury.
This is where acupuncture for dogs comes in. Acupuncture is a safe and effective alternative treatment that can be used to treat a variety of health conditions in dogs.
GIGI’S STORY OF VETERINARY ACUPUNCTURE
After Gigi’s first Acupuncture treatment, I was really surprised at how much better she felt.
The results were almost immediate and she continued to improve with each subsequent treatment.
Now, Gigi is a happy and healthy dog who loves to go on walks and play with her toys.
I am so grateful that we found acupuncture for dogs and would recommend it to any pet parent who is looking for an alternative treatment for their dog.
If you are considering acupuncture for your dog, I would encourage you to speak with your veterinarian about it. They will be able to provide you with more information and help you decide if it is the right treatment option for your dog.
Have you ever tried acupuncture for your pup?
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