What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into a patient's body to directly manipulate pressure points. One goal of this is to stimulate the production and release of bodily chemicals that block out pain and act as anti-inflammatories. The more direct function of acupuncture is to dull or heighten the levels of sensation felt in the targeted nerve groups.

Instead of opting for conventional pharmaceutical drugs (which can have noticeable side effects), some pet owners prefer to opt for acupuncture as a more natural alternative.

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Acupuncture Procedure in Dogs

Once the dog has been delivered to the acupuncturist, they will normally review the dog’s medical records and have a series of questions for the owner in order to deduce the best course of action. Following this, they will manually examine the dog as they plan the procedure as well as to calm the dog and help them become accustomed to their touch. Next, the practitioner will have the dog lie on its belly as they insert the needles into the pressure points selected during the previous steps. Following the removal of the needles, the dog may resume normal activity. A typical acupuncture session will last for roughly half an hour.

Efficacy of Acupuncture in Dogs

Acupuncture has been found to yield good results amongst human patients and in recent decades, the treatment has been offered by many hospitals and healthcare organizations. Likewise, the treatment is now gaining wider and wider recognition within veterinary medicine. That said, it is difficult to precisely gauge the full extent of the immediate effectiveness of acupuncture in animals due to their inability to communicate. Additionally, most patients will require several weeks of sessions until there is a noticeable improvement in their condition, making it harder to judge progress. In the long term, however, acupuncture has been found to be just as effective in treating pain in animals as it is in humans. 

The effects of acupuncture last for as long as the treatment is continued, meaning that follow-up visits may be required on a weekly basis in order to keep pain at bay. Additionally, the dog should ideally be going through a supplementary physiotherapy program in order to fix their condition and should not be relying on acupuncture exclusively.

Acupuncture Recovery in Dogs

Following a session of acupuncture therapy, the dog may experience a degree of stiffness (especially if it is one of the earlier sessions). Additionally, owners should be careful to not allow their dog to injure themselves with vigorous exercise, as acupuncture is a method of pain management and not a treatment for the underlying condition.

Cost of Acupuncture in Dogs

The pricing of acupuncture therapy can be as low as $60 per session, or as high as $300. Costs are typically influenced by factors such as the personality of the dog and the nature of their condition as well as the likelihood that they will derive a benefit from the treatment.

Dog Acupuncture Considerations

Before committing to the treatment, dog owners should be aware that acupuncture does have some minor risk factors. The first of these is the potential for the procedure to cause more problems than it solves - this can be due to accidentally severing a nerve cluster or by impinging a previously healthy nerve, causing more pain and soreness or even fatigue and drowsiness. Second is the possibility that it may have no discernable effect on the individual animal. Overall, however, acupuncture remains an effective method for naturally managing pain without having to resort to drugs and which carries very little risk of serious complications such as infection or debilitation.

Acupuncture Prevention in Dogs

Acupuncture has a wide range of applications and as such it is difficult for an owner to preemptively eliminate that chance that the procedure may one day be necessary for their dog. That said, a good regimen of exercise and a nutritious diet will encourage proper development and ward off many degenerative conditions that can cause chronic pain in old age. Additionally, making sure to watch for sudden changes in your dog's behavior and habits can allow vets to catch and treat health problems before they become more serious and cause serious discomfort or require major surgery.