I’m taking some time to reflect on what I’m thankful for. Puppies tend to get so much attention, and although I love me some puppies, senior pets need that extra bit of love! I’m always thankful for my wonderful Lola – she is 10 years old now! Her walks have gotten a little shorter than they used to be, and she needs a little more care than she used to.

When I found out from Sugar the Golden Retriever that November is National Senior Pet Month, I knew this was the perfect excuse to share some a special Lola story with you.

How Acupuncture Benefits Your Senior Dog


Acupuncture for Your Senior Dog

About a month ago we started going for doggy acupuncture. Lola had been body slammed by another dog at the park and was so injured that she couldn’t walk for a few days. I took her to the vet where they did X-rays and couldn’t find anything wrong other than maybe a minuscule little chip in her should joint. Our vet had no recommendations for us other than pain pills.

I read about the benefits of acupuncture and the various ailments it can help with and decided to give it a try. Now, acupuncture is never going to repair a broken bone. But it can help a lot with arthritis.

I found a great article online from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine that says acupuncture “can relieve soreness in three ways. First, it causes the body to produce chemicals called endorphins, which inhibit the perception of pain naturally. Second, it blocks the transmission of pain signals to the brain through the nervous system. Thirdly, it deactivates trigger points. Trigger points are tender and extremely reactivate areas that develop within muscles. The result of acupuncture is widespread relaxation of both mind and body.

I was optimistic about Lola’s first treatment but a little weary since I didn’t know much about it. Lola has a decent amount of arthritis in her joints plus the injury, so I was hoping this would give her a spring in her step!

How Acupuncture Benefits Your Senior Dog
acupuncture for dogs

Let me tell you, after 1 treatment she was able to jump in my car again! We’ve been back 3 more times since then, her limping has diminished a good bit, and she seems to be more comfortable walking around.

According to PetMD, “veterinary acupuncture stimulates the release of the body’s own pain relieving and anti-inflammatory substances.” If you know anyone with arthritis, then you know that anti-inflammatories are key. I’m not crazy about the idea of Lola popping pills for the rest of her life, so a more holistic approach is a great option for us.

Doggy Acupuncture

What Happens During a Dog Acupuncture Appointment

At the vet’s office they bring in a comforter for Lola to relax on, and I sit next to her on the floor to keep her calm. Dr. Ingrid Rhinehart, the vet, has a little chart that tells her where she’s going to put the needles and she feels along Lola’s spine or joints to find just the right spots. There are only two on her spine that make Lola flinch a little when they go in. The ones in her elbows are also a little tough since her joints are so stiff there. But this is supposed to help that!

She looks so much more miserable in these photos than she is! I swear it’s just her grey eyebrows that give her resting bitch face! She actually falls asleep with the needles in. Dr. Rhinehart leaves us alone for about 20 minutes during the treatment, when she comes back she just pulls all the needles out and we’re done! It’s important for you to stay with your pet for the whole treatment to make sure they don’t dislodge any of the needles and try to eat them or poke themselves where they shouldn’t.

acupuncture for dogs

Dog Acupuncture in Pittsburgh

As far as I know, there is only one vet office in our area that does pet acupuncture. They are actually about an hour away from me (so you can see how much I love my senior pet!!) in Beaver, PA. Please check them out on Facebook, Beaver Animal Clinic.

Other than acupuncture, Dr. Rhinehart also specializes in Chinese Herbal Medicine and has made some great recommendations for herbal anti-inflammatory supplements for Lola. I’m so happy we discovered her and the clinic!

Update: Since originally publishing this post there have been many additions to the pet acupuncture scene her in Pittsburgh! 

You can now find acupuncture treatment for your pet with the following certified veterinary acupuncturists:

Dr. Michelle Elgersma of Kalmeren Veterinary Acupuncture (she does home visits!)
Dr. Deanna Purvis and Dr. Karen Hayworth of VCA Northview Animal Hospital
Dr. Doug Knueven, The Holistic Vet, of Beaver Animal Hospital
Dr. Cindy Maro, Dr. Daniel Jones and Dr. Amanda Brown have 3 locations: Ellwood Animal Hospital, Chippewa Animal Hospital and Holistic Pet Care in Cranberry 
Dr. Christie Schroth at Point 2 For Healthy Pets (part of Point Breeze Veterinary Hospital)

Do you go to great lengths to take care of your Senior Pet? Ever tried acupuncture for yourself your your dog? Tell me about it in the comments!

Love Senior Dogs? Then you’ll also love these posts:
Deciding to Adopt a Senior Dog
Holistic Care for Your Senior Dog and How Much it Costs
Podcast Episode 26: Liz Rubinstein of GingerLead Dog Support & Rehabilitation Harnesses
Burt, A Love Story


How Acupuncture Benefits Your Senior Dog


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