Talking With Pet Doctors

Is Acupuncture Right For Your Aging Dog?

by Christy Adams

Do you have an older dog who just can't get around like he used to? Does he or she have trouble going on walks, jumping on the couch, or simply moving in general? Have you had little success with traditional therapies? If so, you may want to try acupuncture.

Acupuncture is an Eastern medical treatment that has gained in popularity. It's not just for humans, though. Many veterinarians have found that it's also effective for animals, especially dogs suffering from a wide a range of conditions. Is acupuncture right for your dog? And if so, what should you know before you sign him or her up for treatments? Below are a few questions and answers to help you make a decision.

What does acupuncture do? The idea behind acupuncture is that it releases energy, or "chi," throughout the body and directs it certain pain points. This is done through the strategic insertion of small needles. These needles trigger the release of endorphins, which are often known as the body's feel-good hormone. As endorphins are released and guided toward the pain point, blood flow and oxygen increase around the targeted areas. This can relieve pain, discomfort, and inflammation.

Do the needles cause pain? It's obviously impossible to ask a dog or cat if the needles hurt. However, based on human experience, the insertion of the needles may cause a slight sensation or discomfort, but usually not pain. In fact, many people become sleepy or relaxed during an acupuncture treatment. You may see the same effect in your dog.

What conditions can be treated? Acupuncture works for a wide range of conditions, but it can't treat everything. It works best for conditions that can be improved with increased blood and oxygen flow. That includes things like arthritis, joint or muscle issues, digestive problems, and respiratory difficulties. It's not a cure-all though. Acupuncture could reduce pain and discomfort with serious issues like cancer, but it won't cure the underlying disease.

Also, it's important to note that you probably won't see results after one treatment. You usually need multiple regular treatments before you'll see a significant improvement.

Are there any side effects? Based on human experience, there usually aren't side effects with acupuncture. There are the rare instances in which a needle breaks in the skin or possibly causes skin irritation. However, those are very limited and are highly unlikely if you're working with a trained and experienced professional.

Ready to try acupuncture on your dog? Contact an animal hospital, like Downing Center For Animal Pain Management, for more help.