Just saying, “I’m taking my dog to an acupuncturist,” may sound a tad new-age-y and absurd. But, just by following the same basic principles used with humans, a number of veterinarians have successfully used acupuncture to treat sick dogs. For Fido, acupuncture may be an alternative source of pain relief, help aid digestion, and even assist with emotional disorders.
We're always on the hunt for natural and holistic practices for dogs, as giving canines the best lives possible is a major element of our original show Finding Fido, where host Seth Casteel matches people with an ideal shelter dog. Check out more about Finding Fido here and find out where to watch the show.
Whether you own a dog now, or are planning on adopting, it’s worth knowing the holistic options you’ll have in case of illness. But to understand acupuncture for dogs, first you need to understand acupuncture.
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Acupuncture Is A Tried-And-True Practice.
According to WebMD, “Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for centuries. It’s based on the theory that energy, called chi (pronounced “chee”), flows through and around your body along pathways called meridians.”
The super-thin needles acupuncturists put into patients are used to redirect or influence the flow of their energy or chi to address certain issues. Countless testimonials keep the practice a popular option for people today who suffer from chronic pain, poor digestion, and psychological disorders. In terms of tried-and-true practices, it doesn’t get more tested than this, with origins predating recorded history.
Like people, cats and dogs have about 365 key acupuncture points in their bodies. Dogs receive needles of 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches long (depending on their body size). And generally, the process is painless to your pooch.
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So, Acupuncture Can Benefit Dogs Too?
It very well might. This piece from Mom.me describes dogs who underwent acupuncture treatments. One of them followed Zuzu, a six-year-old Labrador retriever with leukemia. Working with Ihor Basko, DVM, a holistic veterinarian in Honolulu, Zuzu had chemotherapy and acupuncture treatments... and his cancer went away completely. Her owner Lisa Carp told Mom.me, “I am convinced that acupuncture triggered healing in his body. He’s so happy and healthy.”
Last year, accomplished vet Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, penned an opinion piece for Petful about whether or not acupuncture actually works on pets. Dr. Elliot begins the story by recalling an elderly rottweiler named Penny, who had been crippled by arthritis. She wrote, “After acupuncture, Penny didn’t start running around like a puppy, but she did get up and move around, whereas before she would just flop onto the floor — and stay flopped. And her folks insisted she was brighter at home than she’d been in a long while.”
When Should Your Pet Try It?
If your older dog suffers from arthritis, acupuncture can relieve pain. Or, acupuncture may help animals experiencing digestive side effects from medications, can help speed recovery after surgery, and in some instances, may even be ale to replace surgery (in case surgery is not an option due to the health condition or age of the pet).
So what do you think? Would you try acupuncture for your dog if he or she might benefit? Or is this one specialty treatment too many for Fido?