Is Acupuncture A Viable Treatment Option For Your Arthritic Pet?

Watching a beloved pet grow older and slower can be heart-wrenching -- and if your dog or cat suffers from arthritis, you might worry that his or her quality of life is beginning to suffer once he or she can no longer move around freely. However, arthritis medication for pets can sometimes cause other long-term problems with bone density or kidney function, and you may be looking for a more natural option. In some cases, regular acupuncture or acupressure treatment can be enough to keep your pet away from heavy-duty medications while making his or her regular activity easier and pain-free. Read on to learn more about pet acupuncture and determine whether this is a good treatment option for your furry friend.

How can acupuncture treat arthritis?

While vets who practice Eastern medicine have been taking advantage of the benefits of acupuncture for centuries, it's only been relatively recently that this practice has been more widely adopted. Pet acupuncture involves the use of paper-thin needles placed beneath the skin around certain pressure points. In both humans and animals, acupuncture of pressure points around arthritic areas can improve circulation and promote the release of pain-killing endorphins and inflammation-fighting cortisol. When regularly performed, these treatments may be able to take the place of prescription painkillers or cortisone injections that can lead to dependency or joint degeneration.

Is acupuncture the right choice for your pet?

For many pet owners, it's worth trying acupuncture to determine its effectiveness on your pet before resorting to more extreme treatments. However, there are some medical and psychological conditions that could make acupuncture a bad idea for your pet. If your pet is on prescription blood thinners or has a history of bleeding problems, acupuncture could have potential complications. Although the needles used during this process are very thin and rarely draw blood from healthy pets, those on blood thinners may be too much of a risk for many veterinary acupuncturists to be willing to treat. 

And while few pets enjoy getting vaccinations, if yours becomes so panicked at the idea of going to the vet (or even being boarded for the weekend) that he or she engages in antisocial behaviors or reverts back to puppy- or kittenhood, scheduling periodic acupuncture appointments may be too stressful for the treatments to have much effect. Fortunately, for the majority of pets acupuncture is a safe and non-invasive alternative to medications or regular injections.