Today we will be talking about dog acupuncture. The treatment is effective, especially for canines with arthritis or neurological issues, whether the veterinary acupuncturist uses Traditional Chinese Medicine or Western medical acupuncture.
Dogs with osteoarthritis and some neurologic and musculoskeletal problems may get relief from pain through acupuncture, which also enhances their comfort and quality of life. It works best when combined with other techniques and modalities, such as analgesics (painkillers), laser treatment, massage, and physical therapy, as a complimentary therapy.
Around 100 BC, acupuncture emerged as a crucial tool utilized by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The original TCM principles are still followed in its usage for human and veterinary medicine, as well as by others who find it useful for reasons other than those covered by TCM.
Traditional acupuncture is regarded as an alternative medical treatment since the rationales behind its application do not align with contemporary evidence-based medicine.
According to TCM, the life force energy known as Chi (occasionally spelt “qi,” but always pronounced “Chee”) permeates all of nature, including people and animals. A network of meridians or passageways is thought to be the body’s primary means of transport for chi. Meridians are invisible passageways through which the essential life force travels; they are not visible bodily features like blood vessels or neurons. Similar to people, dogs have named and mapped meridians, and each one has an effect on specific bodily systems and physiological processes.
Yang and Yin are the two polar opposites of Chi. A body that is balanced in both Yin and Yang is one that is healthy and harmonious. Consider the polarities on a battery’s ends. The positive terminal is on one end of the battery, and the negative terminal is on the other. Electricity travels from the positive terminal of a battery to the negative terminal when it is inserted into a device, such as the remote control for your television. Similar to the Yin and Yang in a healthy dog or human, the flow of electricity is steady and balanced.
According to TCM, a Yin/Yang imbalance is what causes disease and agony. A certain meridian may experience congestion, blockage, or stagnation in the flow of Chi. This could result in that meridian having more Yin and less Yang.
In order to stimulate specific spots (referred to as acupoints) along the blocked meridians and restore the equilibrium between Yin and Yang, acupuncture involves inserting very small needles into the skin. Acupuncturists study and memorize each acupoint’s name and function on the body’s 12 meridians in order to treat particular diseases and injuries as well as to promote health and ward off disease.
Dry needling, a technique used in traditional acupuncture, involves inserting very small needles into acupoints connected to certain medical disorders and leaving them there for 10 to 30 minutes. Dog Acupuncture in other forms includes:
When you take your dog to a veterinarian that uses traditional Western medicine, the doctor will inquire about your dog’s appetite, drinking habits, and level of energy. She’ll want to know what you feed your dog and whether or not her bowel movements are consistent with typical behavior. These inquiries will typically be made by the vet as she examines your dog physically, palpating her abdomen, feeling her heart and lungs, and peering into her eyes, ears, and mouth.
Some of the same questions will be asked by veterinary acupuncturists, but they may also add some that may sound strange to you. For instance, they might ask if your dog enjoys a soft or a hard bed to sleep in, and whether she loves to do so in warm or cool environments. Additionally, when they conduct a physical examination of your dog, they will perform procedures that traditional medical professionals do not, like feeling (rather than just counting) your dog’s pulse in several locations, particularly the femoral artery (inside each of the dog’s hind legs, close to the groin), and examining your dog’s tongue.
Veterinarian acupuncturists determine where your dog’s Chi is obstructed or stuck and which acupoints they need to stimulate to restore the healthy flow of Chi using the additional information about your dog’s health collected by these alternative diagnostics.
The acupuncturist typically places needles in six to thirty different places on your dog. As the treatment begins to take effect, dogs almost invariably become extremely calm, and many dogs fall asleep for the about 20 minutes that the needles are left in place.
Acupuncturists typically advise having the canine patient return for at least six or eight sessions of acupuncture, scheduled at least once or twice a week for a few weeks, and subsequently at longer intervals, even though favorable effects may be noticed as soon as the same or next day.
Studies on the effectiveness of the method have often produced conflicting results, and Western scientists have not discovered any evidence to support the presence of acupuncture points or energy meridians in the body. Nevertheless, there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to support its capacity to achieve better results in treated humans and animals that many practitioners use the modality without necessarily believing in the TCM beliefs that underlie the technique.
The phrase “Western Medical Acupuncture,” which is becoming more and more common nowadays, refers to the use of acupuncture in addition to traditional medical diagnoses and treatments.
Modern researchers have looked for alternate explanations for acupuncture’s success, arguing that acupoints and meridians may exist along important facets of the neuromuscular system even though they are not yet detectable with diagnostic methods in use today. Acupoints have been discovered to connect with muscle/tendon junctions, superficial nerve plexuses, and points where nerves enter muscles. Additionally, the meridians on TCM maps, or the channels through which Chi flows, frequently follow the same routes as peripheral nerves.
But there is enough proof that when acupoints are stimulated, the body reacts in measurable ways. Endorphins and endogenous opioids are released, which may have analgesic (pain-relieving) effects. Anti-inflammatory mediators (known as cytokines) are transported to the region as a result of increased blood flow to the area surrounding the acupoints. This lessens inflammation and aids in the healing process.
Dog Acupuncture can be a useful addition to traditional therapy for some medical disorders, according to recent studies. A dog’s comfort and movement may be enhanced more than with only analgesics and physical therapy alone when musculoskeletal and osteoarthritis pain is treated with acupuncture, physical therapy, and analgesics. Additionally, electroacupuncture may help dogs whose mobility has been reduced or decreased as a result of intervertebral disc condition (IVDD).
Find a veterinarian who is certified in veterinary acupuncture if you’re interested in using acupuncture in your dog’s therapy program for osteoarthritis, musculoskeletal discomfort, or IVDD. Veterinarians who hold this specialty certification have undergone extensive training in veterinary acupuncture and its integration with Western medicine.