Can Acupuncture Help My Pet?

Some of you may have already asked yourself this question, or maybe even wondered if acupuncture is a valid treatment option. I mean, it’s a little out there, right? Does it actually help? Hopefully the following post will help answer some of these questions, and give you the information you need to decide if acupuncture would fit into your pet’s already established treatment regimen.

Veterinary acupuncture has likely been around for the same amount of time as human acupuncture, which is over 1000 years! In the US, veterinary acupuncture has been practiced for several decades. There is more than one school of thought regarding how acupuncture points are chosen. Dr. Patterson was trained in the neurophysiology based method, which means the points are chosen based on the physical issues present e.g. nerve dysfunction, arthritic pain, gastrointestinal issues, etc.

As with human acupuncture, our goals with veterinary acupuncture are to decrease pain, & increase mobility and comfort in our patients. We use it to treat pain from arthritis or soft tissue injuries, and to help increase nerve function in animals that may have spinal cord diseases or neuropathies. It can also be used to treat certain kidney or digestive disorders, or in conjunction with laser therapy to help with wound healing.

Does it seem impossible to perform acupuncture on a cat or dog (or any other animal for that matter!)? After all, they would probably rather be anywhere else than an exam room getting poked with needles! Luckily those pesky needles are quite small, about the size of a human hair, and flexible, therefore many patients barely register them. We also offer our patients snacks like baby food, peanut butter, and other yummy treats to keep them occupied while the needles are being placed and stimulated. We also try to have our sessions in a non-clinical area, one that is comfortable for both the patient and owner.

Acupuncture is a treatment modality that works best when administered routinely. For example, an ideal acupuncture treatment regimen might look something like this: you and your pet come in for an initial evaluation and discussion about your main concerns and goals. This includes an appointment with the veterinarian, who will do a physical exam on your pet and determine how acupuncture may benefit your pet; the first session will also take place. Then, we schedule weekly sessions for at least 3 weeks. By that time, we will be able to determine how your pet is responding to the treatment.

As with any treatment, human or veterinary, each individual patient will respond, well, individually. While most patients are quite happy and cooperative during the acupuncture sessions, there are those who are too worried or uncomfortable to allow the treatment to occur. In that case, we will discuss other treatment options that best fit with your pet’s current status.

Acupuncture could be a wonderful adjunct to your pet’s already established treatment routine. Please feel free to call and chat with Dr. Patterson if you have any questions!

For more information, check out the links below!

WSU – Veterinary Acupuncture

PetMD – Acupuncture

National Geographic Video: Treating Animals with Acupuncture

 

Cold Weather Pet Safety

Our coats keep us cozy-warm!

Your pet’s fur coat will not necessarily protect him/her from this cold weather.  Different dogs will have varying levels of tolerance to temperature extremes and can be susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite, regardless of breed or fur type. Some breeds are built for the cold, so can spend more time in cold temperatures than others.  Cold tolerant breeds, such as Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, are great examples of dogs that are made to play in the snow, but be aware they still can suffer from exposure.  Many small and toy breeds and shorter, thinner coated dogs will be unable to spend much time in the cold.

Here are some tips to help keep your pet warm this winter:

  • Limit time outside for your pet, allowing for shorter periods of exposure for the less cold-tolerant dogs.
  • Monitor snow-play closely–dog playing may generate a lot of heat, but may lose it very quickly.  A wet coat will make that happen even faster.
  • Take shorter walks with your dog, just more frequently.
  • Add extra indoor playtime.
  • Consider adding a dog coat to help maintain body temperature.  The other dogs will not laugh, I promise!
  • Using Dog Booties can also help prevent heat loss, as well as protecting the foot pads from ice lacerations.
  • Pets with arthritis may have more difficulties during cold weather, and may even be more susceptible to injuries due to increased stiffness and slippery walkways or stairs.  Check with your pet’s veterinarian for managing any of your pet’s medical conditions during cold weather.
  • Outdoor pets should always have a warm, covered shelter and open, clean water.  These pets will also likely need extra calories during the cold months, so check with their doctor on their specific recommendations.

Other winter hazards to avoid:

  • Antifreeze is a very common poison and usually way too easy for pets to access this time of year.  It tastes good to our pets, but can be very deadly.  Clean up any leaks or spills immediately.
  • Deicing chemicals/salts can also pose a hazard.  Be sure to wipe off your pet’s feet when they come in to prevent tracking it in the house and to keep them from licking it off of their paws.
  • When wiping off their feet, check over the pads for any cuts, scrapes, or splits.  These can be very painful and easily get infected.  Avoid walking your dog where the ice has formed hard ridges or edges, they can slice into the feet as easily as a knife!  Consider no-slip dog booties if you run or walk with your dog in uneven, icy areas.

Dogs having fun in the snow is one of the joys of winter, but we also want to be sure they do so safely!

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