Dogs and Acupuncture: A New Form of Medicine for Dogs
Acupuncture methods have been used on humans for thousands of years. The art of acupuncture medicine came from the Chinese civilization. They established a medical practice that included herbs, diet, exercise, massage, the use of animal parts, as well as acupuncture. The Chinese believed that acupuncture maintained and restored the balance between the body, mind and spirit.
Acupuncture Used in Veterinarian Care
The traditional Chinese form of medicine known as acupuncture is now being used by veterinarians on dogs. It is recognized by the American Veterinarian Medical Association and the World Health Organization as a valid treatment in veterinarian care.
The acupuncture treatment consists of a series of fine needles inserted into the body to stimulate good health. It works on the principle that the body organs, which may be disturbed by injury or disease, can be restored through the insertion of these fine needles to promote life energy. The needles are inserted at points along the meridian or energy path and stimulate the energy to renew the body.
Dogs Benefit from Acupuncture
Acupuncture for dogs is believed to strengthen immune systems and help to relieve pain. It is also a means of improving the functions of the dog’s organs. It is used for a variety of dog ailments, including muscles and skeletal abnormalities, reproductive problems, neurological illness, skin disease, arthritis (with movement) and is believed to be helpful in improving athletic performance. It also is believed to help with paralysis, asthma, gastro-intestinal problems and pain.
The fine needles inserted into the animal’s body is quite painless as long as the dog is relaxed. The acupuncturist first palpitates the dog’s body to find the meridians. As he massages, he looks for areas of weakness, stiffness and tenderness. The vet then inserts the needles as the dog simply lies on the table (or the floor). In some instances, an assistant will feed the dog treats and talk gently to him while the procedure is going on.
Other methods of stimulation may be used in conjunction with the acupuncture treatments and may include pressure treatments, application of heat, injections of very small amounts of sterile saline or vitamin solutions, or exposure to monochromatic red light. Electrical stimulation may also be used. The average acupuncture treatment lasts about 12 minutes.
In some instance just one treatment can help with simple ailments that the dog may have, but more complex problems may require repeated treatments. It is not unusual for a more complex problem to require weekly treatments to resolve. In some major instances, treatments may be performed 2-3 times per week.
In most cases the dog will not really even feel the needles. Very fine needles are used to minimize any sensation the pet might feel. Many times dog owner’s report that the dog appears to be quite relaxed after the needles have been inserted. It is often noted that the dog seems sleepy or lethargic. This is related to the endorphins (or the body’s natural opiates) that are released during the treatments.
A complete physical examination must be performed by the dog’s veterinarian prior to acupuncture treatment. After examination the regular vet will send the medical information on to the qualified animal acupuncturist.
Acupuncture for dogs should not be used as an alternative to their regular care. In many cases it is used in conjunction with regular medical treatments and medication.