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5 Health Benefits of Acupuncture for Dogs

Most of us see our dogs as members of our family, and would do anything to keep them from experiencing pain or discomfort. That's why new therapeutic approaches like veterinary acupuncture and other complementary treatments are being adopted. In this post, our Voorhees vets describe the five benefits of acupuncture for dogs. 


What is veterinary acupuncture? 

Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique that the Chinese have used for thousands of years in both humans and animals. The use of veterinary acupuncture is intended to help your pet's body heal itself by resetting the balance of energy throughout the body, known as "chi".

This is done with a series of fine needles being inserted at specific points in the body where blood vessels and nerves meet. Endorphins, the body's natural pain killers, are then released, which helps to relieve acute and chronic pain and discomfort. 

Veterinary acupuncture is gaining popularity among pet owners in North America, with many dogs receiving acupuncture treatments every year. 

This technique should be performed by a veterinarian trained in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM). TCVM, which can also include the use of other therapies, and can be combined with conventional medical care, resulting in a holistic, full-body approach to your dog's veterinary care. 

As a treatment, acupuncture is beneficial for dogs at all stages of life (from puppies to senior dogs), and for a range of conditions. It is considered a safe, effective therapy that can provide long-term relief from the pain or discomfort associated with illness and injury. 

What to Expect Before & During Your Dog's Acupuncture Session

Your vet will first need to examine your dog to determine the underlying causes of any signs of symptoms and properly diagnose your dog's health condition. This can help improve your pup's health and lead to a quicker recovery. Depending on your dog's condition, your vet may recommend acupuncture as a therapeutic treatment. 

They may also recommend additional alternative therapies, such as massage. First appointments often take an hour, while follow-up visits may last between 20 and 45 minutes depending on your dog and their needs. 

The vet will insert needles into specific areas of your dog's body. For most dogs, this is virtually painless and not noticeable. Some even become very relaxed and even fall asleep. 

If you or your vet notice that your dog begins to experience fear or pain during an acupuncture session, discuss pain management, sedation, or other options to help your dog feel more relaxed. Generally, a dog will calm down and enjoy their sessions once they realize that acupuncture doesn't cause pain and that they'll feel better during and after a session.

Below, we'll discuss some potential benefits acupuncture can offer your canine companion.

Is acupuncture safe for my dog?

Various animal species, such as dogs, cats, horses, and rabbits, can be effectively treated with acupuncture. If you're considering acupuncture therapy for your dog, it's best to consult a veterinarian who offers the service. They can advise you on whether acupuncture is a suitable treatment option for your pet's condition. 

Acupuncture needles are very fine, so most pets do not require sedation or pain medication to undergo one of these therapy sessions. 

How many sessions will my dog need?

Every dog is unique, and their owners' reasons for seeking acupuncture therapy are specific to their pup's circumstances. Therefore, the number of sessions needed may vary significantly depending on the dog and the specific condition being treated. Your veterinarian can provide an estimate of the number of sessions your dog might require, but keep in mind that this may change as treatment progresses. 

How can acupuncture benefit my dog?

Here is a list of the many ways in which acupuncture can be beneficial for your dog. 

1. Pain Management & Relief 

Acupuncture can help relieve chronic pain by stimulating the release of the body's natural pain-relieving chemicals, including endorphins and anti-inflammatory agents. It is often used in conjunction with intensive medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, which can cause discomfort. Additionally, acupuncture can help treat chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis. 

2. Improved Digestive Function 

Acupuncture may help normalization of digestive activity by stimulating digestive secretions and increasing blood flow throughout the body. This can benefit dogs with gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea. 

3. Improved Respiratory Function

Acupuncture is a treatment that can be used to help animals suffering from respiratory conditions such as asthma and allergies. Studies show that acupuncture has calming effects on the immune system, which can help alleviate breathing issues. Dogs with respiratory problems can also benefit from acupuncture's immune-soothing and anti-inflammatory effects.

4. Promotes healing

It is believed that inserting needles in predetermined locations will increase blood flow, which is crucial for healing and may even hasten the process. Additionally, it encourages your pet's natural waste elimination process, which helps remove all poisons and waste from their body.

5. Can Help Treat Skin Problems

Acupuncture is becoming more popular as a treatment option for dogs suffering from skin conditions such as allergic dermatitis, granulomas, or hot spots. The increased circulation may hasten the healing process.

Bonus: Can Help With Musculoskeletal Issues

Acupuncture is a beneficial treatment for musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia, and nerve damage. It is commonly used during the rehabilitation process of injured patients.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you interested in learning more about how acupuncture could benefit your dog? Contact our vets at Voorhees Veterinary Center to schedule a consultation.

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Voorhees Veterinary Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of New Jersey's companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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