Ever since I mentioned on Instagram that Emmett started acupuncture, so many people have asked me the same question: Really?! Can dogs get acupuncture?
Heck, yes! And with it comes tremendous benefits.
First, a reminder that I’m not a vet. I’m not a vet tech or an acupuncturist or in medicine in any way, shape, or form. I’m a writer. This is my experience and not meant to advise, suggest, or claim anything in any way.
Long backstory short: A misdiagnosis of arthritis in his hind legs led us down the wrong path with Emmett. At the same time as receiving that incorrect information, his oncologist suggested a neuro exam for some trembling in his legs. Ultimately, the correct diagnosis is arthritis along his spine that’s pinching some nerves and causing neuro problems.
He was trembling, tripping, stumbling, and falling because he literally had no feeling in his back feet and little feeling in his back legs.
The good news? He’s not in pain.
The bad news? He’s not in pain… so he doesn’t realize he needs to limit himself and his activity.
The only times he does experience pain is when he flings himself off the deck or slips and sploots on the kitchen floor or otherwise injures himself. Then he’s sore. Otherwise, he’s just a big, clumsy mess.
I started researching options and found a vet rehab specialist here in town. Hallelujah! I filled out her super extensive patient profile information, and she got back to me and said that she felt good that acupuncture was an option and that she makes house calls. Hallelujah, times two!
Since August she’s been coming over almost weekly for an acupuncture session, and here’s the thing: The week before Christmas, the toes of his back right leg–his worst leg–twitched during the session. Last week? His back right twitched as the needles were placed.
In other words, he had feeling in his back leg.
I think this calls for our third hallelujah!
The other question I get asked a lot is if it helps with his cancer. Well, there is some evidence in people that acupuncture helps the immune system, which would ultimately help not by fighting cancer on his behalf but by keeping him healthy enough to fight the fight.
For the cancer question: A lot of vet rehab includes laser treatments, and our vet does perform that treatment. However, there’s a risk in dogs who already have cancer, as Em does, so we’re skipping that treatment.
Another: Does acupuncture hurt my dog? I’ve had acupuncture myself, and I can say it didn’t hurt me. I can’t speak for Em, but I will say that he most often dozes off a bit. (It doesn’t hurt that she gives him a super great massage each week!) When he flinches, I don’t know if it’s pain or if it’s more just a startle reflex. I don’t think he’s in pain, though.
For Emmett’s case specifically, there’s no chance that he’ll “get better.” Instead, our focus is on keeping him stable. Honestly, he’s struggling with mobility big time. He’s graduated past ToeGrips recently and is now in rubber-gripped boots. I can share more about that later, since it’s not really about acupuncture. But, the ultimate goal of the acupuncture, I think, is to keep him pain-free and alleviate as much as we can of the arthritis/neuro issues.
Acupuncture treats a whole slew of health issues, not just arthritis.
I did ask if it could help calm Cooper the crap down.
She said no, probably not.
Ah, well. Worth asking.
If you think it might help your dog, I’d encourage you to pursue treatment. I think it’s helped Emmett tremendously, and others have commented on that to us, too!
So, what questions do you have about acupuncture in dogs? Have you tried this with your pup? Or even yourself? I’d love to hear your experiences!