Acupuncture and Acupressure for Dogs

Acupuncture and Acupressure for Dogs – The foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) assert that imbalances in vital energies within the body lead to illness. A key component of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), acupuncture, focuses on restoring energy balance to facilitate healing in dogs.

Acupuncture involves the precise insertion of fine needles into specific points, known as acupuncture points or meridians, where nerves and blood vessels converge. These meridians are believed to be energy channels transmitting vital energy throughout the dog’s body.

The inserted needles guide “chi” or vital energy along the meridians, enhancing blood circulation and improving the dog’s healing ability. Additionally, acupuncture stimulates the nervous system, prompting the release of anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving substances to alleviate discomfort in dogs.

Research suggests that the interaction between needles and nerve fibers may modulate the nervous system, leading to the release of beneficial chemicals. This neuromodulation encourages blood flow, interrupts pain signaling, and relaxes trigger points causing painful spasms.

An alternative to acupuncture, acupressure involves applying pressure to acupuncture points without needle insertion. This less invasive technique is preferred for hard-to-reach locations or for dogs averse to needles. Laser acupuncture is also utilized to target specific points for deeper tissue effects.

How can acupuncture and acupressure benefit your dog?

Acupuncture enhances blood flow, delivering more oxygen to tissues and efficiently removing waste products. It relaxes muscles, alleviating pain caused by tension, and stimulates the release of natural pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory substances. This may reduce the need for pain medication.

Acupuncture is considered a safe adjunctive therapy to routine treatments, with no apparent systemic side effects. It is particularly beneficial for dogs intolerant to traditional therapies.

Combining acupuncture with medical therapy often yields optimal results, providing relief when neither method alone suffices. This collaboration can decrease the amount of pain medication required.

What conditions can acupuncture address?

Acupuncture is commonly used to treat arthritis, joint inflammation, hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease, chronic back pain, and spinal cord conditions. It may also complement traditional treatments for lick granulomas, aiding healing alongside antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.

While traditional medicine remains the primary treatment for infection, cancer, and major organ disease, acupuncture may assist in managing associated pain and inflammation or alleviate side effects of cancer treatments.

Acupuncture has shown promise in treating metabolic diseases associated with impaired organ function, such as diabetes, kidney or liver failure, pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease, and Addison’s disease.

What to expect during an acupuncture treatment process

The initial appointment involves a comprehensive medical assessment, with the acupuncturist reviewing the dog’s medical records and performing a physical examination. The treatment protocol is discussed, detailing the acupuncture session.

Despite initial nervousness, most dogs relax after needle insertion. Sessions typically last 20–30 minutes, with a treatment plan involving one to three sessions per week for several weeks. The number of sessions may decrease as the dog improves.

The cumulative effects of acupuncture are beneficial, with few side effects. Some dogs may experience soreness or stiffness post-treatment, which usually resolves within 24–48 hours.

Finding a veterinary acupuncturist

Your dog’s primary care veterinarian can help you locate a local veterinary acupuncturist. With over 150,000 certified veterinary acupuncturists in the US and many in Canada, finding a qualified practitioner is usually straightforward. Effective communication between both veterinarians ensures comprehensive care for your dog.

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