Alternative, natural modalities such as acupuncture, massage, reiki, and various therapies aren’t new. In fact, they have been available for humans for a while, and the benefits of some of these wellness options have been considered effective for quite some time.
Unsurprisingly, these popular natural options have also found their way into the dog world. Acupuncture, for example, has been accepted as a good option for dogs suffering from conditions like hip dysplasia and arthritis. Additionally, physical therapy, laser therapy, and other non-invasive pain management modalities are starting to become the standard in veterinary medicine, often used in conjunction with anti-inflammatories to help keep your dog mobile and reduce pain.
Acupuncture and massage therapy are two wellness options that are really gaining in popularity as pain management tools for dogs. If you are curious about holistic therapies for your dog and are wondering if acupuncture or massage therapy are the right choice for your dog, keep on reading! We’ll discuss what to expect from acupuncture and the benefits of acupuncture and massage for your dog.
What Is Acupuncture For Dogs?
Before you can determine if acupuncture is right for your dog, you probably want to know what it is. Chances are, you’ve seen acupuncture needles before. But why would you want to insert these tiny little needles into your dog’s body? Good question! Let’s dive in…
The needles used in acupuncture are very, very thin. If you’ve ever gone through a session, then you know, you don’t even feel a pinch as an experienced acupuncturist inserts them. The needles are placed in specific spots in the muscles and nerve pathways. Research suggests that this insertion interrupts pain transmitters and stimulates blood flow. Studies show that this can help reduce inflammation and reduce your pet’s pain.
A veterinarian who is trained in acupuncture will feel along your dog’s body to see if your dog is okay with being touched. If your dog allows it, they will slowly insert the needles into the area that will help with pain relief. Sessions usually take about 20 minutes.
Sometimes vets will run a small electric current through the needles. This is called electro-acupuncture. This is used to give the nerves just a little extra stimulation.
If your dog is suffering from arthritis or other degenerative joint problems, acupuncture may be an effective natural option to help them maintain a good quality of life. Acupuncture can even be an option for rehabilitation after surgery to help promote healing.
Why Your Dog Needs A Massage
If you’ve ever had a massage, then you know how amazing it feels and how helpful it can be if you have an injury. Doggy massage isn’t any different! Your dog can get the same benefits. Massage helps relieve muscle spasms and tension and helps relax the muscles and stimulate blood flow.
Massage is an effective therapy for helping keep joints mobile and can even help stimulate some organs, such as in the digestive tract. Acupressure, where pressure is put on trigger points to help relax the muscles, and passive range of motion, which is when the vet gently moves the affected limb through its natural movements, are two of the most common methods used in veterinary massage therapy.
Massage can be beneficial for recovering from an injury or surgery. And it can also help to restore your dog’s range of motion.
If your dog suffers from osteoarthritis, be sure to talk to your vet as massage may be a good natural modality to choose. However, if your dog suffers from an inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid, massage therapy is generally not recommended. It’s important to also note that massage should also not be used on torn muscles or open wounds.
Using massage therapy for dogs is still relatively new. Occasionally, veterinarians will refer a dog out to a licensed human massage therapist. This is usually done by veterinarians who do not have training or experience in acupressure or therapeutic massage. Your dog may also be referred to a specialist clinic that treats and rehabilitates injured animals or those recuperating after surgery.
Massage Your Dog at Home
There are some gentle massage techniques you can use on your dog at home. This will help get your dog used to the feeling of a massage and can also help you bond with your dog. Starting at the neck, you can gently rub down on either side of your dog’s back, without putting pressure on the bone. Gently running your fingers from your dog’s nose over their head is also a calming form of massage that your dog will love.
Want a more guided experience? There are dozens of DIY dog massage videos available online.
Preparing Your Dog For Acupuncture Or A Massage
If your dog is already suffering from a painful condition, then taking them to an appointment may add to their stress level. You can use calming supplements to help reduce your dog’s stress level and calm them before their appointment. Companion’s Best Day is a natural option that may help calm your dog and improve their overall wellness.
To further promote healing and enhance your pet’s therapies, Calming Relief may be a helpful addition to your dog’s routine. Both turmeric and omega-3’s are commonly used with joint discomfort. Additionally, organic chamomile and valerian root which are found in Restful Pet may promote calm and overall well being, which is helpful before an appointment and when trying to manage pain.
The most important part of pain management is maintaining mobility. Supplements to help maintain joint function are a good complement to acupuncture and massage therapies. Mussel Mobility contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which have been shown to be beneficial to joints by helping replenish synovial fluid. Plus, the addition of turmeric in Mussel Mobility may support any stiffness or mobility issues your dog experiences.
Modern medicine is great, but oftentimes there are additional or alternate solutions. Natural or holistic remedies like the ones mentioned above can be a first line approach when early signs of an issue arise. Sometimes what is needed is a balance of modern and alternative modalities. Approaching the health of your pet from a holistic standpoint can empower you with effective options for your dog that you can do yourself.