There’s Acupuncture for Pets? Yes, and it works!
by Dr. Kari Trotsky
Peaceful Endings for Pets
So far, I discussed laser therapy, swimming, the Help ‘Em Up Harness, and medication for arthritic pets with decreased mobility, in order to delay euthanasia. Now we move on to another modality in our arsenal – acupuncture. Acupuncture in humans has beneficial effects proven by research and the results are similar in dogs (and cats).
A veterinarian certified in acupuncture is the only person who can perform the procedure. It takes special training to achieve this certification. My older, arthritic dog gets acupuncture weekly with herbs in between sessions, and it helps her tremendously.
If considering acupuncture, you need to be realistic about the outcome. For instance, a dog with degenerative myelopathy will gradually lose function in the rear legs and will eventually become unable to stand or walk, and no treatment available can prevent this. But, if your goal is to have your dog walk better with less pain and inflammation for as long as possible, then acupuncture definitely will help. Acupuncture can treat numerous conditions, including allergies and anxiety, but for this purpose, we will focus on arthritis.
Some acupuncturists have an office you can bring your pet to, but many will go to your home, where your pet is most relaxed. You want to get your pet settled in an area of the home where she is most comfortable, and while the needles are going in, soothing music is played. It is not painful, although a pet may feel a pin prick or two in the superficial layer of the skin. It’s best to get through it without the use of treats, but if it helps your dog to give her tiny morsels throughout this phase, then go with whatever works best.
Once all the needles are in, your dog must remain lying down for 15-30 minutes, as directed by the veterinarian. It is advisable to be there with your dog the whole time. If she tries to get up, needles may become loose and fall out. The vet may also use electroacupuncture for some areas. With this, wires are connected to special needles in the skin and an electrical current is introduced, and gradually increased over the next few minutes. This can help get better results in less time.
Afterwards, the needles are removed, the pet gets a treat, and that’s it! It’s a relatively easy procedure on the pet and you can see a huge difference in how well your dog can walk with pain and inflammation minimized. Using multiple modalities such as laser, acupuncture, a harness, swimming, etc, will all affect your pet a little differently and will improve your pet’s quality of life and, hopefully, delay the onset of worsening symptoms.
The acupuncturist I use and respect is Dr. Bethany Meno, owner of Da Chi Wellness: E-mail- drmeno@dachiwellness / 630-243-5371. She is knowledgeable, caring, has a desire to help pets and pet parents however she can. Reach out to her for a consultation if you think acupuncture may be right for your pet.