For the past year, Sharon Cerken has been taking her dog Dewey in for acupuncture.
“It’s totally changed who Dewey is as a dog,” Cerken said. “I feel like she’s got her puppiness back.”
Nine-year-old Dewey is being treated for hip dysplasia. Not only has acupuncture kept her pain at bay, Cerken contends, but it also has kept her off the pain medications that were elevating her liver enzyme levels.
in Coronado offers the service. The Drake Center for Veterinary Care in Encinitas shared their costs for initial consultations: About $90, with electro-acupuncture around $80 and regular acupuncture around $70. Appointments usually last 30 to 40 minutes.
The procedure is relatively painless. In fact, veterinarian Amanda Moore said many dogs come in excited for the treatment.
“Dewey does so well with it; she is so tolerant of the needles, she doesn’t act like anything hurts at all,” Moore said.
A U.S. professional society is devoted to veterinary acupuncture, in fact.
Basically any animal can get acupuncture for a variety of health reasons, says veterinarian Kathy Boehme.
“It’s just a balancing of the body, so it can be used in any disharmony in the body. Any disease in the body can benefit from acupuncture,” Boehme said.
Stone says the “balance” explanation is tailored for consumers, “but there are numerous studies that also describe scientifically defined mechanisms such as the secretion of endorphins (the body’s own pain-relieving narcotics) as well as other neurological mechanisms that have been proven in study after study.”
During a treatment, needles will stay in the animal’s body anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. If no improvement is seen after four to six acupuncture treatments, then the sessions are discontinued, Boehme said.
“If we are seeing improvement, then we space them out and go as long as we can go in between treatments to keep things in balance,” she added.
Animals also can benefit from Chinese herbal medicines, which “speak the same language” as acupuncture, an expert said, when treating urinary issues and arthritis.
Patch associate regional editor Ken Stone contributed to this report.