As with human medicine, veterinary medicine has changed over the years.
People who are interested in a more natural pathway can pursue holistic medicine for dogs to treat a variety of conditions including degenerative arthritis, hip dysplasia and back conditions.
A veterinarian who practices holistic medicine will strive to treat your dog as a whole animal starting with nutrition, diet, environment and lifestyle.
For conditions requiring treatment, holistic veterinarians will use both traditional and alternative medicine to provide the best care for your furry friend.
One field of holistic medicine for dogs is acupuncture. If you are working with a veterinarian who recommends acupuncture, you will want to know how acupuncture works, how it can be useful to treat degenerative conditions in dogs and if there are related forms of accupuncture in dogs that are helpful for treating these conditions.
What is Acupuncture, and How Does it Work?
Acupuncture comes from ancient Chinese medicine and operates on the belief that the body has a life force that flows through pathways in the body called meridians. According to the original belief, different the meridians run throughout the body including the organs and regulate bodily functions.
The meridians surface at specific points on the skin known as acupoints. When an illness or condition occurs, the life force is said to be out of balance and needs to be restored.
Acupuncture uses slender needles to pierce specific acupoints associated with the target organ or condition in order to restore balance to the life force.
Modern western medicine has examined acupuncture and can not fully explain all the results people report from treatment. However, one effect from acupuncture is the release of endorphins.
Endorphins are small molecules of protein, called neuropeptides, that the body produces naturally. These are opiod molecules that resemble morphine in their structure and function, and they work in the body naturally to relieve pain.
Acupuncture has been used to help treat pain in humans, but is acupuncture in dogs effective to treat conditions that cause pain?
Dog Acupuncture for Arthritis
Dog acupuncture has been used to help treat degenerative conditions as an alternative means of relieving pain and promoting healing.
As with people, the use of acupuncture for dogs with arthritis results in endorphin release. These neuropeptides provide analgesic effects that can be more powerful than man-made drugs.
In addition to the pain relieving results, acupuncture also improves circulation, increases oxygen and slows down cellular degeneration in the target area.
Often in a holistic approach, acupuncture for dogs with arthritis is used to complement medications and other treatments. Treatment for arthritis using acupuncture takes about six sessions. The session length varies according to the severity of arthritis and ability of your dog to tolerate the needles.
Acupuncture for Dogs with Back Problems
In addition to treating arthritic conditions, for dogs with back problems acupuncture is a viable alternative treatment or an excellent complement to other treatments.
As with arthritis, acupuncture for back problems results in pain relief, improved circulation, increased oxygen levels and slowed degeneration in the target areas.
These effects make acupuncture for dogs with back problems such as spondylosis, degenerative myelopathy, ruptured discs and back muscle sprains a key part of a homeopathic regimen. The number and length of treatments will vary depending on the nature of the back problem, its severity and the ability of your pup to tolerate needles.
Acupuncture for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia
Acupuncture is also useful to help alleviate the pain of this degenerative disease in dogs. The treatment helps relax the muscle tension that builds up as your dog’s other muscles and joints compensate for the loose hip socket.
Acupuncture for dogs with hip dysplasia will not reverse the structural defect but can help slow the degenerative process and ease the pain and aches associated with the condition.
Depending on the severity of the dysplasia and accompanying degeneration, a trained and qualified veterinary acupuncturist can effectively treat hip dysplasia in three to ten visits.
To keep your pooch pain free, you can have follow up treatments every few months.
Are There Other Treatments Related to Acupuncture?
Trained acupuncturists may apply treatment variations to increase the effectiveness of acupuncture in dogs.
They may attach electrodes to the needles inserted in the acupoints to pass a gentle current along the meridian. This technique, known as electroacupuncture, is believed to increase blood and lymph flow and help to speed up the healing process.
Some practitioners may heat the needles with a dry herbal incense prior to, or during, insertion. This is known as moxibustion and has been effective for older dogs with arthritis to ease the discomfort of sore, stiff joints and muscles.
Other practitioners may use a form of indirect moxibustion which involves holding the lit moxa stick over the area being treated for several minutes.
If your furry friend reacts poorly to needle insertion, there are other ways to treat your pup using the principles of acupuncture. Some practitioners may use lasers in place of needles to stimulate acupoints.
Another great alternative for dogs that aggressively resist needles is acupressure for dogs. When using acupressure for dogs, the practitioner presses on specific acupoints with their fingers rather than inserting needles. This procedure is non-invasive, and your practitioner can show you how to use the technique at home for continued benefits.
A Holistic Method to Alleviate Pain
As holistic and alternative medicine options increase in popularity, you may choose non-traditional treatment routes to help dogs suffering from arthritis, hip dysplasia or back problems. Many of these conditions involve degeneration and pain.
One form of alternative medicine that is growing in popularity is the use of dog acupuncture to help alleviate pain and potentially slow cellular degeneration.
Acupuncture depends on the belief that the body has a life force that runs through meridian in the body to regulate bodily function. By inserting needles into specific points, called acupoints, on the body surface, the practitioner is able to treat a variety of conditions.
If you choose to pursue acupressure or one of its variations to help your pup deal with a condition, make sure your doctor is trained and certified in the art.