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Acupuncture for dogs

Tools of the trade -acupuncture, herbs and diet

Acupuncture is the placement of fine needles at specific locations on the body known as acupoints. These acupoints are located along a series of channels that run throughout the entire body. Channels are conduits along which vital substances, such as “Blood” and Qi, travel. The stimulation provided by the needles can manipulate the flow of these vital substances. Specific combinations of acupoints can relieve obstructions, draw Qi to an area of low concentration or drain it away from an area of high concentration. Acupoints can also have specific properties, such as influence over a specific body part or internal organ. Acupoint combinations, also known as point prescriptions, are tailored to the specific imbalance of each patient. It is possible that two patients with the same disease will receive very different point prescriptions because their overall imbalance of vital substances and organ function is different.

Now, if you are confused about Yin, Yang and Qi, let’s look at acupuncture from a Western scientific perspective. Acupoints are located near bundles of nerve endings and capillaries (small blood vessels). When a needle is placed in the skin, the nerves and capillaries are stimulated. Locally, chemicals are released that increase blood flow to the area. Increased blood flow can help flush toxic substances out of the area or bring important cells to the area,such as those associated with the immune system. Stimulation of the nerve endings sends chemical signals to the spinal cord and brain. This can provide pain relief or even stimulate important metabolic functions in other locations of the body. It has been documented that stimulation of acupoints on the legs increases gastric acid secretion in the stomach. Clearly, the insertion of a tiny needle in the skin can have far reaching consequences throughout the entire body.

Acupuncture does not always need to be performed with a needle. Acupressure, for example, employs touch to stimulate acupoints. Lasers use light energy to stimulate acupoints. Other techniques can be combined with needles, such as electro-acupuncture. This technique utilizes electrodes that are attached to the needles, and low levels of electrical current are run between the needles. This method is frequently employed for more severe conditions, such as paralysis. Moxabustion is a technique that involves burning dried mugwort. The compressed herb can be held near the needle or attached tothe needle and provides gentle warmth, or Yang energy. Dr. Erin Mayo for more information

Written by

Jennifer Kachnic is the President of The Grey Muzzle Organization. She owns Canine Wellness, LLC in Colorado and is the author of the award winning book Your Dog's Golden Years.

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