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Dogs with arthritis may benefit from acupuncture treatments

By Dr. Connie Clemons-Chevis Modified: May 14, 2009 at 8:19 am •  Published: May 14, 2009
Traditional Chinese veterinary medicine is most widely known for helping animals with arthritis.

I can tell you about a couple of cases that demonstrate how effective acupuncture can be for arthritis in dogs and the importance of early treatment.

The first case is a 14-year-old mixed-breed dog that had been diagnosed with lumbosacral instability syndrome and had severe degenerative arthritic changes in the spine on radiographs. The dog had been having arthritic problems for many years, and the problem was getting worse.

The dog had been treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and prednisone. The prednisone was causing the liver enzymes to go up. As a last resort, the dog was brought to me to see whether acupuncture would help.

The first day I saw the dog, it could not stand on its own. The owner lifted the dog with a towel under the belly, and the dog used the front legs to move. The dog could put some weight on the left leg, but the right leg was knuckled over. The dog could not raise its tail and had lick granulomas on its front legs.

The client’s goals were to decrease or discontinue the use of prednisone, increase the strength in the rear legs and increase the quality of life.

The dog was treated with dry-needle acupuncture and was set up for weekly treatments. At the third treatment, in the middle of the session, the dog’s tail started thrashing rapidly. This surprised us, but I knew this was a turning point since the movement of the tail was telling me vital energy was moving through the spinal cord. The life quality score (on a scale of 600) was 300, which is OK.

When the dog returned the next week, it could stand without help, and there was no knuckling of the feet. The owner told me the dog surprised her by walking from another room to the computer room to visit the owner. The dog kept improving with each visit and became fairly strong in its rear legs.


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