Don’t be surprised if the next time you go in for your routine acupuncture session you see a dog reading a newspaper in the waiting room as he waits his turn. Of course, this will never actually happen since dogs have their own veterinary acupuncture specialists, but it is a fact that more and more dog owners are resorting to alternative medical approaches, and that includes acupuncture. What makes this form of therapy so widespread nowadays, and most of all, how do dogs benefit from it? There are many good reasons why more and more dog owners are seeking acupuncture treatment for their four-legged companions. Let’s take an insider look at how dogs reap the benefits of this alternative to traditional veterinary care.
Why Use Acupuncture for Dogs?
Acupuncture has grown in popularity because dogs, just as humans, are suffering the consequences of the traditional approach of modern medicine. While modern medicine may be a good thing most of the time, there are those all too common instances where modern medicine turns out to be pretty harmful.
We are all too well familiar with the long lists of side effects and contraindications that come along with most medications. Many of these lists are so overwhelming, that dog owners have started debating if giving the medication in question is really ultimately worth it.
Many times it seems that a medication may fix a condition while creating others. This may mean taking further medications to fix these further problems along the way in a long spiral of needless pain and suffering. Vaccinations are also quite under scrutiny, especially when they are given on a yearly basis when there are studies showing that they no longer need to be given so frequently. Not to mention commercial diets with all those added harmful fillers, additives and preservatives.
Sometimes pets are diagnosed with conditions that are yet to be well understood. These medical mysteries are much dreaded by pet owners as the most appropriate treatment cannot be sought. There may not be any medications available or the condition may have gone way too far, past the point of a manageable treatable level. More and more pet owners nowadays are recognizing the importance of curing their pets holistically, from the inside out versus just trying to treat the tip of the iceberg. These are all cases depicting how pet owners begin seeking out alternative veterinary approaches such as acupuncture.
An Old Chinese Tradition Revamped
Acupuncture is fairly new to the veterinary field but has very ancient roots in history. The ancient Chinese civilization has resorted to this method for more than 4,000 years in belief that its use granted a balanced status between, body, mind and spirit. An acupuncture session typically would consist of the insertion of many tiny gauged needles in different body parts. The basic principle is that the needles should elicit physiological responses that would help in the healing process.
A regular acupuncture session should last from 10 minutes to half an hour varying from place to place, with the average session lasts around 12 to 15 minutes. While most of us get chills at the thought of having our pet’s skin punctured just about anywhere, perhaps from seeing them being vaccinated at the vet’s office, in reality the acupuncture procedure is virtually painless, unless the dog gets particularly tense. You may be needed to assist the acupuncturist in some cases by holding your dog still to avoid the needles from coming off. It appears though that most dogs relax and allow the acupuncturist to practice undisturbed.
An Effective Cure-It-All Therapy
Pain seems to be the most common reason why dogs seem to see an acupuncturist. If your dog suffers from muscular-skeletal issues such as painful arthritis or hip dysplasia, this may be an approach you may want to give a try. Other ailments can benefit as well from acupuncture.
Dogs afflicted by gastro-intestinal problems, skin issues, reproductive and uro-genital problems, and even dogs affected by paralysis have reported significant improvements through the use of acupuncture.
How Will my Dog Respond?
Response to an acupuncture session varies. Chronic conditions may require 3 or more sessions before benefits are noticed. The more severe the condition, the more often the pet needs sessions. Then as improvements are noticed, the time frame between sessions are prolonged and gradually tapered off.
Is your dog nervous about going to a new place? Some acupuncturists are even willing to come to your home. This is because they believe that pets are more likely to relax and benefit from the session when they’re in familiar surroundings.
Body, Mind and Spirit
Because the Chinese believe that not a single body part needs treated but rather the body as a whole, many acupuncturists incorporate other alternative approaches such as the use of herbal supplements. Expect an acupuncturist to ask an extensive lists of questions before starting a session. Many times these questions may appear to not pertain to the dog’s condition but this is part of the ancient Chinese belief that the whole body, mind and spirit needs treatment.
Is Acupuncture Right for my Dog?
While acupuncture provides many benefits, there are some cases where acupuncture is not recommended. If you dog is very anxious or gets pretty over exited, the release of that extra adrenaline will work against the acupuncture therapy. Pets on corticosteroids will not benefit as well as these medications make the therapy ineffective. Dogs affected by certain cancers should not undergo acupuncture due to the fact that the needles can actually accelerate cancer growth cells.
Getting Started in Canine Acupuncture
If you are considering acupuncture for your dog, keep in mind that your dog must have a physical exam by your regular veterinarian before being referred to an acupuncturist. Your vet should be open to this approach since acupuncture is now recognized by The American Veterinarian Medical Association. Many veterinarians as well have formed the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncturists, which holds an important meeting at the Ohio Veterinary Medicine Association every year. If you think your dog may benefit from acupuncture, ask your vet for a referral to a trusted, reputable acupuncturist.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, acupuncture is a great alternative to the traditional approach of medicine. When other treatments have failed or produced more harm than good, acupuncture may come into place as a great healing method. While it may work in most cases, it must be clear that it is not considered a miracle cure, so therefore owners should not place too many high expectations. Rather, owners of sick pets should give this approach a try as there is really nothing to lose if all other methods have failed.