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Canine Acupuncture: Why poke a pooch?

dog portrait Acupuncture has been used in China to treat animals and humans for over 5,000 years. It has addressed diverse conditions, ranging from diabetes to musculoskeletal pain, allergies, anxiety, digestive disorders and much more. Just about any complaint can be improved with acupuncture treatments. However, most conditions take multiple treatments and don’t resolve overnight. This is where the importance of patient education is crucial.

Acupuncture is a treatment that has incredible healing effects for humans, but did you know that veterinary acupuncture can also provide pain relieving and anti-inflammatory relief for dogs? In fact, according to nationally board certified acupuncturist, Melissa Zebrasky, acupuncture can provide the following additional benefits for dogs:

– Muscle relaxation at the site of needle insertion for pain relieving effects
– Improved tissue blood flow, oxygenation, and removal of metabolic wastes and toxins
– Decreased need for prescription pain medication
– No adverse interactions with medications or supplements

How to get through the dog days of treatment:
Most of us are used to taking a pill and having a relatively immediate effect. But what we need to recognize is that suppression of symptoms with powerful medicines is different from addressing the root imbalances that have existed for weeks, months and possibly years. Typically, patients improve over time depending on the severity of the condition being addressed, the amount of time the condition has been present and the underlying health of the animal.

Acupuncture + Chinese herbal therapy:
Combining acupuncture with traditional Chinese herbal therapy is another option that creates the greatest benefits and results. As different modalities, they have different qualities and are often used in combination because of their individual strengths. Acupuncture helps to balance the energy of the body by stimulating areas of the body with very fine needles that connect to skin, muscles, connective tissue and organs. An ancient Chinese proverb states, “When yin and yang lose their balance, disease is allowed to flourish.” The paradigm of traditional Chinese medicine sees the process of disease, dysfunction or pain as a result of imbalance. This is what acupuncture strives to restore, or balance.

Herbal medicine does exceptionally well at nourishing the deepest level of nutrients in the body, unlike any other medicinal substance. In traditional Chinese medicine, each patient is seen as an individual and receives a unique acupuncture treatment and herbal medicine prescription. Many factors go into providing the patient with the most effective treatment possible.

(Bow) wow! What do I do next?
If your animal is suffering from illness, pain, dysfunction or disease, look at what traditional Chinese medicine has to offer. In most cases what you’ll find is a highly effective treatment, without toxicity or side effects, and an overall improvement in the health and quality of life.

When looking for a practitioner, first ask about their education in traditional Chinese medicine. Make sure he/she has a strong understanding of traditional Chinese medicine theory, diagnosis and treatment. A course of a few weeks or months is a great introduction, but qualified practitioners should have years of traditional Chinese medicine education. In order to truly benefit from acupuncture and/or herbal medicine, a proper diagnosis and treatment protocol has to be followed.

Finally, ask the practitioner about the experience he/she has had with the condition you are addressing with your animal, including the following questions:

● What is the treatment plan and what should you expect to see with treatment?
● What can you do to improve the process of healing with your animal?
● What should the animal be eating?
● How much and what type of exercise would be good for your animal?
● Would Chinese herbs help the healing process specific to your animal?
● Would any dietary supplements be beneficial?
● Would any environmental changes be advised to help your animal heal?

Have you considered alternative medicine and therapies for your dog? Please leave a comment below if you have recommendations for our readers or any questions for certified acupuncturist, Melissa Zebrasky.

The Lavender Leash may just be the helping paw you need to keep your dog happy and healthy. Connect with us here.

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