What Can Acupuncture do for Your Dog?

What Can Acupuncture do for Your Dog?

A lot of alternative medicine and treatment options are making their way into animal health, including massage, chiropractic, phytotherapy (medicinal plant therapy) and acupuncture. If you are used to modern medicine, you may wonder if these types of treatments can actually help your dog, or if they are just a waste of money. So, what about acupuncture – can it help my dog?

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been practiced in China for thousands of years. The practice involves using tiny needles that stimulate certain nerves, sending signals to the brain. Modern studies on acupuncture believe this is what causes the pain relief – the brain releases hormones that make the patient feel happy and they feel less pain. Others hypothesize that the pins reduce pro-inflammatory markers or proteins in the body, thus reducing inflammation and pain. Others say it can help nerves that have been damaged, by forcing the brain to send nerve growth factor to that area, and restore the nerves – this would be in a case of say chronic numbness or weakness, often in hands and feet of humans. In other words, scientists are not quite sure how it works or what all it can do.

What Can Acupuncture do for Your Dog?

So why would you want to try acupuncture for your dog? Just like us, dogs end up in pain throughout their life. Some even have chronic pain as they age such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, cancer, etc. Acupuncture can help alleviate chronic pain, as well as some other benefits, which along with modern medicine, can really treat your whole dog and make them much more comfortable.

1 – Pain Management

As mentioned, pain management is a big reason acupuncture is used on both humans and animals. Veterinarians often pair acupuncture with other drugs for treatment of pain, such as chemotherapy. Pain associated with osteoarthritis, ligament and tendon issues, including sport-related injuries, and spinal problems like disc disease, is often treated with acupuncture.

2 – Skin Issues

Some veterinarians have found acupuncture to help with allergic dermatitis or hot spots. It is believed that it does this by increasing circulation, which improves healing. And, since it also relieves pain and inflammation, your dog is less likely to keep licking and itching, which will also speed healing.

3 –Diarrhea and Nausea

Acupuncture has been known to help relieve nausea, which is often a side affect for strong drugs, such as chemotherapy and even some pain medications. It also increases blood flow, which often relieves nausea and can also help with diarrhea. Researchers believe it also may stimulate digestive secretions, which could help relieve diarrhea in dogs. In the same way, it may help with incontinence in older dogs.

4 – Anxiety

Some veterinarians have even used it for dogs that are anxious. Why? Well, remember acupuncture is thought to release all kinds of “feel good” hormones including endorphins and of course, this makes the patient feel better, relieving not just pain, but stress and anxiety.

Acupuncture is said to also remove metabolic wastes and toxins, making the body healthier in general.

As mentioned above, there are no conclusive studies on the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment. Part of the reason why is there is no way to have a control group with a placebo. Many veterinarians pair it with drugs, making it more difficult to tell what is really helping the animal – the drugs, the acupuncture, or the combination? However, since there are no known adverse side effects to it, if you have a dog that has not been responding to modern medicines or is fighting the side effects of those drugs, such as vomiting and diarrhea, it can’t hurt to explore acupuncture as a treatment option. Many swear it works wonders, so it might be worth at least discussing with your veterinarian. If you see a difference, keep at it, if not, well no harm will be done.

Ways to Alleviate Environmental Allergy Suffering in Dogs

Ways to Alleviate Environmental Allergy Suffering in Dogs

There are lots of great things about the weather warming up, but if you have a dog with environmental allergies, you just might wish we had eternal Winter. Dogs suffer from all kinds of allergies – in fact dogs can be allergic to anything humans can be, and even somethings that might surprise you. For example, according to the veterinarians at a pet insurance company, a dog can even be allergic to cats and humans! While some allergies, such as food or animal are year-round, environmental allergies like grass and pollen, spike during certain seasons, usually spring and summer. Dust mites like heat and humidity, so they also start to breed as the weather warms up, especially if it’s coupled with some spring showers to boost humidity. During these times, your poor dog may be just miserably every time he has to step outside.

First, get your dog tested so you know what they are allergic to. Otherwise, you may be avoiding things, like grass, that are safe and not aware that the tree in your backyard is the real culprit. Your dog could be allergic to just one thing that is easy to avoid, or many things. It’s quite amazing how common grass allergies are in dogs and it’s so sad to see them covered in hives, swollen eyes, running nose, and itchy beyond belief.

Once you know what your dog is allergic to, you can find ways of avoiding those things altogether…sometimes. But, we also know your dog can’t live in a bubble, so, here are a few things you can do to help her get through allergy season.

Wipe those paws. A lot of environmental allergens are picked up by a dog as they walk around (which is why their paws get itchy and inflamed), so wiping them off with a damp towel will help to remove pollen or grass they may have picked up can help your dog be more comfortable. Then follow up wiping the feet with a dry towel to decrease dampness between the toes.

Walk on sidewalks and paths. If your dog is allergic to grasses, you can help limit his exposure by using sidewalks and dirt paths to walk on, only allowing him on the grass long enough to go to the bathroom. Just make sure the cement is not too hot for his paws if it’s a really warm day.

Watch Pollen Counts. While pollen counts are given to help people who suffer from allergies, you can also use them to help your canine friend out. Avoid outside as much as possible when the pollen counts are high, and take advantage of low pollen count days to have some outside time.

Medications. Although I’m not always for medication, sometimes it’s the best option. Vets have allergy medication for dogs just like doctors do for humans, so once your dog has been tested, you can get something to relieve his symptoms if your dog does have a flare up.

Clean your house often. Whether your dog is allergic to dust mites, pollen, grass, or anything in between, cleaning your home often to removes the allergens will help your dog be happier.

Wash dog beds and blankets often. Remember that whatever your dog brings into the house, it probably gets left in spots they frequent, such as blankets and dog beds. Washing these once a week will help lower allergens in your home as well.

Use an air purifier. Plugging in an air purifier when the allergens are really bad is good for everyone in the house, not just your allergy suffering dog.

Doing these simple things can help both you and your dog enjoy your spring and summer, with fewer trips to the vet, less itchiness, and more fun in the sun.