Photo credit: Chegg CareerMatch
The practice of acupuncture has been around for years now.
Its origin can be traced back to China, where they use very fine
stainless-steel needles inserted in specific muscle bundles to help with energy
flow. If it is done right, you are looking at some major benefits. What many
people might not have heard of is dog acupuncture. Yes, you can treat your pet
to this amazing procedure. However, are there any dog acupuncture side effects?
Let us look at what dog acupuncture is all about and possible side effects.
Health Benefits of Acupuncture in Dogs Photo credit: Wag!
Those who practice dog acupuncture will have so much to say. The same goes for those who took their dogs to face this kind of procedure. If you are still unsure about it, here are some health benefits you should expect with dog acupuncture.
It helps alleviate pain
Dog acupuncture will increase the synthesis and secretion of
endorphins from the brain. This hormone is important for numbing the pain from
a joint. It works just like morphine and codeine sans would do in the human
body. It is not just for alleviating pain as acupuncture can still give the dog
psychotropic effects. Vets recommend it to pet owners as it is as good as
synthetic opiates only that it does not come with any adverse reactions.
Boosts your dog’s immune system
As much as there is not much information how it boosts the
immune systems, but studies show that dogs that go through acupuncture have
better immune system mobilization. The improvement in immune system helps a lot
to ward off any common infections leaving your dog healthy.
As part of boosting the immune system, there is also an
improvement in blood circulation. Such ensures there is an efficient
replenishment of white blood cells to various parts of the body.
Can reduce inflammation
For a long time, acupuncture was mainly used to help with
allergies, asthma, and reducing any inflammation in the body. Well, if your dog
suffers from any cases of inflammation, this could be an option to try out
today. It is possible to reduce inflammation as acupuncture helps with
mobilization of anti-inflammatory substances around the body. Also, dogs that
might have had allergies will not have them after several sessions of acupuncture.
It promotes muscle relaxation
Acupuncture is all about stimulating the muscles in the
dog’s body. Each time a dog undergoes the treatment, it helps it loosen any
tightened muscles and thus leaving it feeling better. The direct penetration of
the acupuncture needles helps to break up any fascial adhesions that might have
developed over time. As a result, knowing where to insert the needle is
It is good for tissue oxygenation
Other than promoting muscle relaxation, acupuncture is still
good for improving tissue oxygenation. Without proper oxygenation to the
tissues, the cells will not have all the important fuel to survive. On overall,
acupuncture helps the dog develop better muscle mass for more activities. You
might find that your dog can walk or run better after acupuncture.
No adverse reactions
We all know how sometimes medications can have adverse
reactions in dogs. Luckily, that is not what you get with acupuncture. There
might be a few side effects, but they cannot be compared to some of the adverse
reactions a dog can get from certain medications.
How Does Acupuncture in Dogs Work? Photo credit: Cherokee Animal Hospital
Veterinaries with enough knowledge about acupuncture are the ones licensed to conduct the procedure. The process involves using dry needles that are inserted in body tissues where the blood vessels and nerve bundles meet. These points where they meet are the acupuncture points and thus the name of the procedure.
With needles inserted into these points, there is a better
energy flow and correction of any imbalances. There are many more benefits your
dog will experience just as we have mentioned above.
Here is a video explaining how dog acupuncture works.
Is it painful?
As much as you are not the one undergoing acupuncture, the
thought of needles can make some pet owners question if it is painful. Despite
the use of needles, if it is done right, the process is painless. In larger
animals, there might be the need for larger needles. These are likely to cause
a bit of discomfort, but not much pain. The dog might not even notice the
Variations of acupuncture
Depending on the expertise of a vet, sometimes you can
expect to see multiple variations of acupuncture. Each of the variation would
be best for certain conditions. Let us look at what to expect with each
Acupressure. It involves administering
pressure to specific acupuncture points. This pressure is for mimicking the
needle insertion process. It is a common method for dogs with behavioral issues
or where using needles might be impossible. Aquapuncture. With this method, the
acupuncture needles will have medicinal herbs or vitamins which get ejected
directly into the tissues. The use of herbal medicine helps to boost the energy
change in the moving tissues. Moxibustion. This procedure includes the
addition of heat to boost the healing process. It also includes the use of warm
Chinese herbs for more health benefits. Electrostimulation: As the name suggests,
the method includes an electric current going through the acupoints. The result
is that the dog will have better stimulation of the nerves. This procedure is
good for treating paralysis or when there is damage to the spinal cord. Laser: Instead of working with needles,
the same energy flow can be achieved by using laser energy around the
acupoints. It is just as effective, but it will need the right equipment to get
the best results. Common Conditions Acupuncture Can Treat Photo credit: Soft Dogs & Cats
Humans love going for acupuncture sessions because they love
the benefits they get with the process. So, are there any conditions that
acupuncture can help treat in dogs? From the health benefits we saw earlier,
dog acupuncture can be beneficial to your dog. Here are some of the conditions
that can be treated by using acupuncture.
Arthritis and joint conditions Metabolic disease Paralysis Slipped disks Respiratory conditions Hip dysplasia Epilepsy Muscle spasms Digestive issues Epilepsy Chronic kidney disease
It is worth noting that the type of conditions that can be
treated will vary with the dog size too. For small dogs, acupuncture is good
for treating the following;
Selected reproductive conditions Gastrointestinal issues Respiratory problems Skin conditions Musculoskeletal conditions
As for large dogs, acupuncture is best for the following
Gastrointestinal issues such as nonsurgical
colic Sore backs and downer cow syndrome Allergic dermatitis Irregular heaves Facial paralysis
It is best to take your dog to the vet for further
examination before deciding how best to carry out the acupuncture process. It is
crucial that you only consult a qualified vet to do the process. The last thing
you want is your dog to end up with complications after the procedure.
Best Places to Get Dog Acupuncture Photo credit: UW Veterinary Care
Now that you know more about the benefits of acupuncture for
your dog, you might be intrigued to get one done. The problem is that you have
no idea where to start. So, where can you get a dog acupuncture treatment done?
One of the options surprisingly, is doing it at home. If you
can have the expert come over to your home, it can still be good for your dog.
Not all dogs love going to the vet for any procedure. Having your dog where it
feels at home makes it possible for it to enjoy the procedure on overall. Just
have a certified vet acupuncturist visit your home to conduct the procedure.
Well, the at-home services might be expensive and unavailable to everyone. As a result, taking your dog to a vet will still get you in touch with a professional. You would still have confidence that your dog is in good hands at the vet’s clinic.
Each time you want your dog to undergo acupuncture, take
your time to research about the clinic. Look at the reviews of people who have
used the clinic before. This helps you to pick the right clinic to do the
procedure. With many veterinarian clinics now offering the procedure, you
should find one easily in your neighborhood.
How Often is Acupuncture Needed? Photo credit: American Animal Hospital
The number of acupuncture sessions a dog needs varies with
the severity of the ailment. Also, how the dog responds to the treatment can
determine how often it undergoes acupuncture. Some dogs are often
uncomfortable, so subjecting it to several sessions might stress the dog.
For conditions related to pain such as osteoporosis, it is
recommended that the dog goes through acupuncture for 4 to 6 weeks. The periods
between the treatments will gradually reduce as the condition improves. Once
the pet achieves optimal effects, then all it needs is maintenance therapy.
This can be done once a month to help maintain the results and keep the animal
For a dog that suffers from joint diseases such as IVDD and
trauma, then acupuncture is recommended to be done three times a week. This
should be done until ambulation returns. Once the condition starts to improve,
there will be a reduction in the acupuncture treatment periods.
Maintenance therapy for joint diseases and trauma can be
done every three months to help maintain pain relief.
How many needles will be used? It is estimated that a dog
can receive up to 20 needles for each session.
Common Side Effects of Dog Acupuncture Photo credit: Acupuncture
There is no argument that acupuncture is good for your dog.
However, there are some dog acupuncture side effects you should know about. It
is crucial to have all the information before deciding if the acupuncture treatment
will be good for your dog. Here are some of the common side effects.
Masking of symptoms
Before your dog undergoes acupuncture, there is the need for a proper diagnosis. This is because acupuncture can mask or change the symptoms the dog is showcasing. With the change in symptoms, it can be difficult to
diagnose any other disease that brought out the signs before. There have been cases where acupuncture masked the signs of cancer in dogs only to be diagnosed later when it is too late. Increased pain for a short period
If you find that your dog shows signs of pain after an
acupuncture session, just know that you are not imagining things. One of the
common side effects of acupuncture is an increase in pain before it subsides.
The pain will last from 24 to 48 hours. This will likely happen if your dog
undergoes over-puncturing. Also, if the needles are pushed too deep into the
tissues, it can result in experiencing such pain.
Acupuncture is not for all dogs
Not all dogs are up for the acupuncture process. An example
is a pregnant dog. This is especially if the acupoints are below the umbilicus.
It is best to wait for it to give birth before trying out the procedure. You
should also not do acupuncture for a dog that has recently eaten a heavy meal
or has had its bath recently.
For dogs that tend to easily get frightened, then you should
avoid acupuncture. The same goes for those who are easily fatigued. We also
have some dogs with behavioral problems so restraining it during the process is
going to be a problem. Such a dog will make it hard to get the needles into the
The acupuncture needles should not be used for dogs that
suffer from blood clotting problems or any other related blood disorders. This
still applies to dogs with skin infections as it might be too painful.
Some of the side effects are likely to happen because of
negligence. Let us say your dog underwent electroacupuncture that resulted in
burns. You might end up harming the dog even more rather than helping it. If you
are going to do acupuncture for your dog, it is best to only work with a
qualified vet acupuncturist. This helps to eliminate any cases of
Is it Worth it?
There are many benefits associated with acupuncture, do not
let a few side effects discourage you from trying it out. For most people, they
would opt for medications to alleviate various symptoms. That being said, just
know that acupuncture can still be a solution without dealing with the
interactions and adverse reactions of some medications. With many success
stories, it just shows that acupuncture is good for your dog if done correctly.