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Does acupuncture work for dogs?

 by lucy on 24 Jun 2017 |
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Many have heard of acupuncture for humans, but far fewer know that the process has been around nearly as long for our canine companions. While acupuncture can be an effective tool for managing pain, allergies, arthritis and other disorders in dogs, it’s important to consult a veterinarian trained in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM) before deciding whether to pursue an acupuncture program for your four-legged friend.
 
Acupuncture’s goal is to promote the body to heal itself, which is done using fine needles to redirect energy along certain pathways. Treatments have been shown to increase blood circulation, stimulate the nervous system and promote the release of pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory hormones, making acupuncture a good compliment to other, traditional veterinary treatments. It is often used to relieve arthritis pain in older dogs or relieve pain after surgery, for example, but acupuncture has also been used to treat problems from slipped disks to digestive issues, epilepsy, paralysis, respiratory problems, allergy dermatitis, nausea, diarrhea and a weakened immune system.
 
If you do decide to pursue acupuncture for your pet, expect the first session to begin with a physical examination. This will be followed by a set of questions about your dog’s medical history and lifestyle before the treatment begins. Generally, acupuncture involves inserting short, thin needles into your dog’s skin while he is awake— but don’t worry, this shouldn’t cause your pet any pain when executed by a skilled practitioner. In fact, many animals become relaxed during acupuncture treatments. Most dogs are not “cured” after a single session, so be prepared for up to eight weeks of bi-weekly treatments, with gradual improvement over time. Once your pet’s problem is under control, the number and frequency of sessions should drop off, so acupuncture is not a lifelong commitment. Each session costs around $25 to $120, varying on the practitioner and treatment.
 
While there is evidence that acupuncture works—medical researchers have observed changes in electrical activity, blood circulation and the release of endorphins during treatments, for example—most experts agree that acupuncture is best used in conjunction with other, traditional veterinary practices. It is not a replacement for surgery or medication, for example, but can be used to make your dog’s life more comfortable. Likewise, changes in diet can compliment acupuncture treatments. In the end, it is your decision whether your pup’s problems warrant a trip to the acupuncturist. Consult a veterinarian trained in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine before making your decision and discuss surgery, medications, changes in diet and other options to help manage your pet’s specific problems.

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