Where do we start?
Tons of alternative treatment options exist for dog arthritis.
The treatments discussed here are most common and show good results with minimal to no side effects.
Treating chronic diseases like arthritis is the best use of alternative medicine – because you get results while minimizing or eliminating the risk of side effects.
Some excellent alternative dog arthritis treatments include:
- Acupuncture & Electroacupuncture
- Massage Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Eastern Herbals
When Western treatments are integrated with alternative treatments, we often see the most effective and long-lasting results with minimal to no side effects.
I believe, the majority of the time, a combination of different healing modalities may be the best treatment for your dog’s arthritis.
Integrating these two therapies allows you to eliminate side effects and get the best bang for your buck.
And, since I treat dogs with arthritis on a daily basis, I can give you some good advice.
In most of these cases, the patients have already tried conventional medicine and people are seeking out additional pain relief with no further side effects.
So, yes, dog acupuncture can heal arthritis pain, but it is critical that you and your veterinarian discuss and agree on the following:
Communication of Expectations
This is the absolute first and most critical step. Companies mislead when they misrepresent benefits of a certain modality.
Although not intentional, a good example of such misrepresentation would be “acupuncture helps all pain.”
Indeed, acupuncture can “help” all pain – but may not alleviate all pain.
The good, discerning and experienced veterinarian knows:
- When to use it and when other options may be better
- When a combination of different modalities may be the best option for your dog
- How to predict and communicate the benefits and expected outcome to the client
Communication is especially important when practicing alternative medicine. Pain is real to the dog yet only perceived by you and I.
Acupuncture for dog arthritis pain helps as long as the owners educate themselves on the expectations and remain committed to the recommended protocol.
Full Evaluation of the Dog
It sounds like a given, yet sometimes veterinarians, (including myself,) tend to lump all arthritic dogs into one single category: Dogs with arthritis! This assumption is a big mistake.
In my opinion, arthritis pain in the back responds best to acupuncture while the pain in the extremities responds better to other methods.
Some other important points to note are:
- Arthritis pain in the back responds well to acupuncture because you can utilize needle points right along the back and along the bladder meridian. These are areas in which dogs tolerate acupuncture.
- Most dogs have a limited number of stimulation points. Points along the back are well-tolerated and effective.
- Acupuncture will stimulate the muscles along the top line, the longissimus. These are the large muscles found on each side of the bony spinal column that often becomes tight and spastic in response to bony arthritis of the back.
- It is my belief that most of the pain in back arthritis comes from the soft tissue muscular pain around the joint, not the bony abnormality.
- Along the back, you can insert needles into the deep musculature. In other parts of the body, this is much more difficult.
- The vet must evaluate the patient and x-rays may be necessary to determine the exact origin of the arthritic pain.
Remember: Arthritic pain in the back responds better to acupuncture than arthritic pain in the extremities.
Consider Electroacupuncture for Maximum Pain Relief
Electroacupuncture (also called percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or PENS) is a technique involving needle stimulation that enhances the analgesic effects of acupuncture by blocking pain pathways.
During this procedure, the veterinarian places small filiform needles at predetermined points on the body. An electric current passes through the acupuncture needles.
The goal of animal electroacupuncture is helping Qi (vital energy, life-force) move throughout the body.
The body is in a healthy, balanced state when Qi is able to move. When Qi is not able to move, disease occurs.
Some points to note about electroacupuncture:
- Veterinary electro-acupuncture is similar to traditional veterinary acupuncture in that the same points get stimulated during treatment.
- The acupuncturist can adjust the frequency and intensity of the electrical impulse delivered depending on the particular condition treated during the session.
- The typical veterinary electro-acupuncture session lasts approximately thirty minutes.
- Animals experience little to no pain when the needles are inserted. They may become a little anxious when the electrical pulse begins, but in most cases settle down shortly after treatment has begun.
- Many animals become very relaxed or sleepy during and after a session.
Repeat Acupuncture Sessions
Unfortunately, determining the number of acupuncture sessions needed for dog arthritis pain is difficult and unpredictable.
Your goals, along with your dog’s condition and eventual response will be the ultimate guide to determining the number and frequency of sessions.
Since arthritis is a chronic, progressive disease, the goal of acupuncture treatment is pain management. Managing pain requires consistent sessions over time.
Different dogs respond in different ways to the treatment and many factors come into play when deciding the frequency of sessions.
The decision on the number and frequency of sessions is made on an individual basis taking into account the following:
- Owner’s opinion and expectations
- Concurrent medicines and treatments
- Degree of pain
- Other relevant health issues.
The number and frequency of sessions do, however, have an impact on the veterinarian’s ability to control pain.
All of this said, I have had great success in my practice treating dog arthritis pain with acupuncture.
Sometimes acupuncture is the sole modality, and sometimes, I use it in combination with:
I have seen dogs become so relaxed and relieved of pain that they fall asleep during their acupuncture session.
Acupuncture is a wonderful tool when used properly, and I am very pleased to be able to offer it to my clients.
Make your dog feel better – learn more!