If you're at your wit's end searching for a way to help your dog find relief from his allergy symptoms, the 2,000-year-old Chinese practice of acupuncture might be the answer. As Eastern medicine makes its way into mainstream veterinary knowledge, more pet owners are using acupuncture to treat digestive issues, muscle pains and allergy symptoms. Learn how acupuncture works and whether it might be the right choice for your pup so you can both enjoy sweet relief.
A professional acupuncture specialist will apply very small needles -- for dogs, needles are 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches long, and about the width of a hair -- to some of the nearly 365 key acupuncture points on your dog's body. Experts in the field say the needles' contact on the acupuncture points helps to redirect energy (called chi) trapped within an individual's body. Each needle's pressure causes blood vessels to dilate, increasing oxygen flow to muscles and joints, and releasing endorphins.
Acupuncturists say your dog will not feel pain as the thin needles are inserted into his skin. Many dogs will relax on the examination table, or even fall asleep during an acupuncture session. Your pet may experience slight and temporary pain if the muscle the needle is treating is very tense or knotted, but the needle will quickly dissipate the pain and tension.
For dogs with food or seasonal allergies, acupuncture can help alleviate some residual bodily pains and skin irritations after the allergen has been removed from the dog's environment. Many other conditions have been successfully treated or helped by regular acupuncture appointments, including dermatological issues, gastrointestinal disorders, arthritis, asthma, incontinence and other chronic pains. Before initiating an acupuncture regimen, your dog's practitioner will do a thorough physical examination to ensure that acupuncture would be a healthful option for your dog's individual needs.
Acupuncture may not produce immediate results, since the goal of acupuncture is to provide more long-lasting relief from painful conditions such as allergies. Your dog's acupuncturist will likely recommend at least eight successive visits, and treatment may be ongoing, depending on the level of your pet's needs.
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