Dog Acupuncture - The Benefits of Dog Acupuncture

What is dog acupuncture?

Acupuncture is taking needles and placing those needles in specific points on the dog's body or along certain channels on the body to activate the body's natural healing abilities. The needles can stimulate the acupuncture point, and cause a cascade of other events. Acupuncture allows the body to release its own endorphins for pain management, tissue relaxation, and help with any underlying condition.

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.

Dr. Mitch McKee
Berry Farms Animal Hospital - Cupola Animal Hospitals

Is there more than one type of dog acupuncture?

There are different types of acupuncture. There's dry needle acupuncture, which is placing a single needle in a spot. There's electrical acupuncture, during which you take that needle and hook it to an electrical current to stimulate the area in that channel. There's aqua puncture, where you use medications like vitamin B12 or maybe some saline to put in the acupuncture spot. There's also pneumo acupuncture, where you can use air in certain areas to help build up muscle tissue. There is acupressure, in which you're using your thumb or your finger at an acupuncture spot. Some veterinarians do laser acupuncture, as you can use a laser to do the same thing as a needle can do. Also, there's another procedure called moxibustion.

What is moxibustion, and why is it considered part of acupuncture therapy?

Moxibustion is where you take an herbal stick, the exact name for it is Artemisia vulgaris (it's shaped kind of like a cigar), and you light that. You put a needle in a patient along the back, and you hold that warm stick over that needle, and the heat goes down the needle into the body and helps warm up that area. As an alternative, you can just hold the stick over the area without the needle being there, being careful not to burn our patients, of course. But it's excellent for heating areas in the body that stay cold all the time, especially good for our old, arthritic patients to help warm up their joints.

How does the use of acupuncture impact the health and wellbeing of 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.

Using acupuncture treats the problem at hand and increases the quality of life, and it gives the dog the overall feel better type feeling. Acupuncture can be very rewarding in terms of buying them a little more time or trying to help them through chronic diseases. It gives us another alternative to use in our treatment regimen.

How old does a dog need to be to receive acupuncture?

There's really not an age restriction. We don't do it very much on our younger patients, puppies, or kittens, but for the most part, it can be done at any age.

What are some conditions that would benefit a dog by receiving acupuncture treatments?

The most common condition that we use acupuncture for are going to be musculoskeletal pain. These would be your back problems or your neck problems. And that also extends into neurological issues like disc disease. It can be advantageous for patients with disc issues to get those patients back up on their feet again. Acupuncture can also be used for other scenarios, such as coughing. We also use it on heart patients, controlling some of their symptoms. Acupuncture can be good for GI disease, especially controlling symptoms like diarrhea, and it can be used for allergies. There are many different applications for it, depending upon what may be going on with your pet.

Would acupuncture compliment my dog's current treatments?

Acupuncture is most often always an excellent complementary treatment to what you may be using already. We found a lot of times that if you add acupuncture to your patient's treatment regimen, you're able to decrease the number of medications that they're sometimes taking, which can be a very good thing in terms of overall quality of life.

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 are encouraged to be present during the sessions.

Is Dog Acupuncture Painful?

When performed properly, acupuncture is typically a painless experience. A tiny prick may be felt when the 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 can dog acupuncture be integrated with Western medicine?

It kind of depends upon the situation at hand. Still, we look at acupuncture as just another tool that we have in our toolbox—like our pain medication, antibiotics, our x-ray machine, and lab equipment. This is something that we have available to use when we feel like it's most needed.

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 will a veterinarian determine if acupuncture is right for my dog?

The best way to determine if acupuncture is right for your pet is to have an appointment with a certified veterinary acupuncturist for different reasons. One thing we want to do is have the correct diagnosis. If you have the proper diagnosis, it gives you an optimal chance to do what feels best in affecting your patient's health. Also, it's essential to get an exam when you're considering acupuncture because not all patients like acupuncture. Some dogs won't sit still for the session, and some don't like the needles being placed. So, it's essential to get the right diagnosis. It is also important for a certified veterinary acupuncturist to assess your pet's condition to see if they’re a candidate for acupuncture or not.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 283-9040, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.