Acupuncture/Acupressure for Dogs
The advances of modern medicine have improved the quality and lengthened the life spans of both “man and beast.” New medical advancements are extraordinary, yet many veterinarians are turning to a form of the ancient medicine to help their patients. Utilizing centuries-old techniques of acupuncture and acupressure may enhance traditional veterinary medicine and further benefit the canine community.
What is acupuncture?
Ancient Chinese medicine is based on the philosophy that illness is caused by an imbalance of vital energies in the body. Acupuncture is one aspect of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) that focuses on restoring the energy balance in the body and promoting healing. In other words, acupuncture is used to help the body heal itself by correcting energy imbalances in the body.
The technique requires the insertion of fine needles into the dog’s body at specified points, called acupuncture points, where nerves and blood vessels converge. These points are located in sites called meridians, which are energy channels that transmit energy throughout the dog’s body.
The inserted needles guide “chi” or vital energy along the meridians. Placed in these identified points, the needles enhance blood circulation which improves healing ability. Acupuncture also stimulates the nervous system and increases the release of anti-inflammatory and pain relieving substances to reduce a dog’s discomfort.
Similar to acupuncture, another technique called acupressure, which involves applying pressure to acupuncture points rather than inserting a needle, is another option. This less invasive technique is preferred for locations that are hard to reach with needles, or for dogs that may not tolerate the needles.
How do acupuncture and acupressure help?
Acupuncture improves blood flow which increases oxygenation of tissues. It also reduces the amount of waste products produced and increases the amount of metabolic waste the body can remove, so there is a systemic benefit.
Acupuncture relaxes muscles both where the needle is inserted, and muscles located elsewhere in the body, so it relieves pain both locally and generally. By stimulating the release of naturally occurring pain relieving and anti-inflammatory substances, acupuncture may decrease the amount of pain medications needed to treat these dogs.
Most pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs are quite safe but may affect organ function, so veterinarians closely monitor organ function through routine laboratory testing to minimize the risk. Acupuncture has no systemic side effects, so it is particularly helpful for dogs in poor health.
“Acupuncture has no systemic side effects, so it is particularly helpful for dogs in poor health.”
As with most medical protocols, a combination of treatments often provides the best results. Fortunately, acupuncture and medical therapy can be safely used together, which is beneficial when neither method can provide the desired response alone.
What conditions can acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is often used to treat dogs with arthritis and joint inflammation. For example, dogs with hip dysplasia or degenerative joint disease are good candidates for acupuncture, which may alleviate pain and improve joint range of motion. Dogs with chronic back pain and even dogs with serious spinal cord conditions also benefit from acupuncture.
Less serious medical problems are also treated with acupuncture. Lick granulomas are lesions on the legs of dogs that continuously lick a spot causing an irritated sore and exposing superficial nerve endings. These lesions are often difficult to heal and acupuncture may be a good complement to antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.
“Acupuncture may be a good complement to antibiotics and anti-inflammatory
It should be noted that although acupuncture can reduce pain and inflammation associated with many different medical conditions, traditional medicine is the first line of treatment for infection, cancer, and major organ disease. However, some issues associated with cancer, or the side effects of cancer treatment (chemotherapy and radiation) such as tissue inflammation, nausea, and decreased appetite, can be helped using acupuncture. Veterinary acupuncturists have treated patients with metabolic diseases associated with impaired organ function. Dogs with diabetes, kidney or liver failure, pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease have experienced a decrease in nausea and an increase in appetite after acupuncture sessions. So, even if acupuncture or acupressure cannot cure a condition, they may make it more tolerable.
What is a typical acupuncture session like?
The first appointment with a veterinary acupuncturist involves a general medical assessment. The primary care veterinarian will send medical records outlining a history of the dog’s condition to the acupuncturist. Lab tests, radiographs, and current medical therapy will be documented so the acupuncturist is fully informed. The veterinary acupuncturist will perform his own physical examination, discuss treatment options, and explain exactly what happens during an acupuncture session.
Even though the patient dog may be a little nervous in a new clinical setting, most become very relaxed after needle insertion. Depending on the conditions addressed, the actual session may last 20-30 minutes. The doctor outlines a treatment protocol that may involve one to three sessions per week for several weeks. Often, the number of sessions is tapered off as the dog improves, so visits are scheduled less frequently.
The effects of acupuncture treatment are cumulative so there is a benefit to repeated sessions, but the goal is to achieve the greatest degree of improvement and maintain that level with the fewest treatments necessary. There are few side effects with acupuncture, but some dogs may be sore or stiff following a treatment session, while other patients appear tired. These symptoms usually resolve within 24-48 hours.
How do you find a veterinary acupuncturist?
Your dog’s primary care veterinarian can help you determine if acupuncture is a good option and can also help you find a local veterinary acupuncturist. The two veterinarians will communicate so that each doctor stays updated on your dog’s condition. There are more than 150,000 certified veterinary acupuncturists in the US who have completed an extensive course of study, so locating one close by is usually not a problem.
The combination of old and new medicine is often one that produces good results for many dogs.
Here at Harmony Animal Hospital, we offer acupuncture through Dr. Clines.
|Contributors: Lynn Buzhardt, DVM
© Copyright 2015 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.
Harmony Animal Hospital Implements Cat Friendly Practice Program
Cat Friendly Designation Elevates Cat Care
The cat is king. With cats being the most beloved pet in the country, there is a growing need to improve the health care and overall well-being of the feline population. Whether it’s a routine checkup or special visit, the staff at Harmony Animal Hospital is committed to ensuring that cats get the best care. And, to further its dedication, the clinic recently implemented the Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) program to offer pet owners more at every phase of the cat’s health care process.
“We are committed to providing quality care to our feline patients,” said Dr. Jillian Sweet of Harmony Animal Hospital. “When we heard about the CFP program, we knew it was time to take a fresh look at the practice to determine what could be done to make the veterinary visit more positive for cats and cat owners.”
This Program Puts Cats First
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) pioneered the CFP program to provide a framework for creating a positive practice environment for cats, including medical care that supports the cat’s unique needs and knowledgeable staff members who understand feline-friendly handling.
“The AAFP realizes that cats present unique challenges before, during, and after a veterinary visit,” said Dr. Susan Little, DVM, DABVP (Feline) & President, American Association of Feline Practitioners. “Some things that can cause cat anxiety include aversion to carriers, sensitivity to new sights and smells, and the added stress of an unfamiliar location or experience.
Understanding these obstacles helped to shape the CFP program and its dedication to putting the needs of cats first.”
At a CFP-designated clinic, the veterinary staff incorporates cat-friendly features into the physical environment of the practice including special waiting rooms or waiting accommodations, feline-sensitive examination rooms and ward facilities, and equipment appropriate specifically for cats.
Staff members also approach cat care in a different manner. The staff learns how to understand the needs of the cat such as how to interpret a cat’s facial expression and body language. Furthermore, the staff is well-trained in alternate techniques to calm an anxious cat and ensure that exams and procedures do not escalate anxiety.
Harmony Animal Hospital Boosts Cat Care
“We evaluated every aspect of the practice and its environment from the perspective of the cat,” Dr. Sweet said.
“We can proudly say that from the minute they walk through the door, our patients and clients will be part of a welcoming, comfortable experience that will ultimately lead to the improved health of our feline patients.”
For more information about what it means to you and your cat(s) for us to become a Cat Friendly Practice and makes us different from the neighboring veterinary clinics visit: https://catfriendly.com/keep-your-cat-healthy/cat-friendly-practice/
And visit https://catfriendly.com/ so you can learn how you can create a Cat Friendly Home for your feline friend(s),
We just wanted to briefly pinpoint some things that will help make your future veterinary appointments with us be as stress-free as possible for your pet AND you!
- Bring them Hungry! (unless diabetic or otherwise medically unadvised)
- MORNING APPOINTMENTS: skip breakfast and wait until you return from your appointment
- DAYTIME APPOINTMENTS: feed a reduced amount of their regular meal
- EVENING APPOINTMENTS: wait until you return home to feed dinner!. If your pet has dietary restrictions (ie: allergies), please bring approved treats with you or even some of your pets dry kibble to be used as treats while at their appointment.
- Carriers: place your pet’s carrier in your living area as far in advance of your appointment as possible. We recommend that the carrier always be left as a fixture of your home to eliminate their reacting negatively to it when it is presented on appointment day. Cats carriers should be covered with a towel or blanket during the drive and when bringing into the appointment. If you need help getting your cat used to his/her carrier here is a great video to watch.
- Leashes: NO Retractable Leashes! Please leave retractables at home! We will happily give you a leash to use during your visit if you do not have anything other than a retractable. If you arrive with one, please keep it LOCKED and ask for a leash from the front desk.
- Waiting: If you feel your pet will be better off NOT waiting in the waiting area, please call upon your arrival and we can move your pet directly to an exam room or you may wait in your vehicle until a nurse is ready for you.
Remember, we want this to be a pleasant experience for your pet AND you! The medical staff may decide to prioritize your pet’s care (ie: treat the ears but skip the nail trim) OR reschedule your appointment with a new treatment plan in order to keep their fear and anxiety level as low as possible. Visit the link for more information on Fear Free practices
We look forward to seeing you!