Acupuncture: Has gone to the dogs…

Hello! Hope this Monday finds you well -below are some thoughts about acupuncture for dogs… and one article worth flagging about a families adventure with their three legged dog named Jerry that recently passed away from cancer. This is a great article which I’ll share first.

brui-acupuncture-2 the blog about how to care for dogs with cancer – I was touched by this story about a three legged Sherperd named Jerry. I handle PR for Ruff Wear Dog Gear ( and we’ve been providing the family with the Web Master Harness for years so saw that he passed away last fall and wanted to share this article about this life broadly. It’s very touching… A PBS program caught much of their experience for a documentary on cats and dogs slated for this Sunday called “Nature”.


Ok -back to acupuncture.

I found Bruiser at Indigo Recue, a rescue organization in Oregon that works to end animal abandonment by promoting spaying and neutering.

In May 2007, my husband and I noticed that our sweet Bruiser was displaying signs of discomfort when jumping on furniture and curling up into a tiny ball before bedtime. He also stopped eating as well which is a sure-fire sign that something was wrong… after all, feeding time is Bruiser’s favorite time of the day!

(Yes, I know long dogs shouldn’t be allowed to jump on anything but I’m only human after all – life happens and his family sits on the couch. Plus, there are only so many ramps that we can strategically place throughout our house. Like children… dogs will be dogs).

So, we took Bruiser to Dove Lewis (local animal hospital) – and he was diagnosed with Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD). IVDD happens when one of the disks between the vertebral bones either bulges or bursts into the area surrounding the spinal cord. Often the only cure to this painful disease is surgery. Before recommending a more invasive course of action (surgery), Dove Lewis recommended we go see a specialist. And Bruiser’s movement had to be restricted so crate rest was the immediate course of action. So we were off to the NW Vet Specialist in Clackamas.

Next, we met Dr. Prouty, the neurologist, and had our sweet Bruiser undergo an MRI. Without going into a lot of detail about the results from the MRI – Bruiser ended up not needing surgery and I was told to continue with crate rest for about two months and then to check back with Dr. Prouty to see how Bruiser was doing. Ultimately, Bruiser recovered completely, and while we watch him carefully and have ramps throughout the house– this was a fairy tale ending. Bruiser was VERY, VERY lucky.

So –you’re probably asking at this point where the acupuncture came into the equation. About a year later we noticed Bruiser was experiencing some discomfort. But first I need to back up a little… My OWN experience and enthusiasm for acupuncture drove my research to identify a credible practitioner for animals because I thought Bruiser would benefit. During my research I discovered that my own vet at Frontier Vet Hospital, Dr. Yung, was in the process of completing her acupuncture certification. Everything happens for a reason, right?

Dr. Yung evaluated his trigger points (points in the muscle that are painful, reactive nodules secondary to chronic tightness and inflammation, similar to when humans experience a “knot” in the neck). She also noted some slow reaction to a “flip foot” exercise which we had seen Dr. Prouty do during Bruiser’s exams a year prior –neurological testing that can indicate spinal cord dysfunction by gauging the amount of time it takes a pet to right their paw after the veterinarian tucks it under. When you watch and it takes more than a few seconds you start to hold your breath… she placed the needles according to where he was suffering and then after a therapeutic length of time, removed them.

We were shocked by his behavior at home – he began jumping up on furniture that he hadn’t since he suffered the herniated disk. He was clearly more comfortable and had a wider range of motion. I see my acupuncturist because I have issues with my fingers during the winter months. I was certain the benefits of acupuncture would help Bruiser and I was right. I really wanted the dog community to know that there are options available and many resources available for anyone that has a dog diagnosed with IVDD or similar back issues.

Acupuncture for dogs – great resource

NW Vet Specialist, Dr. Prouty -

Frontier Vet, Dr. Lisa Yung DVM – animal acupuncturist

Dr. Skinner, Oregon Veterinary Specialist –

Dove Lewis –

Animal chiropractors – Dr. Chattigre’ at Cascade Summit Veterinary Hospital

Animal massage: Heal NW –

Pet ramps – include some Web sites: or

Becca Seitz –acupuncturist

Lauren McCall, Integrated Animal

Dr. Brenda Brown, Animal Acupuncturist,


There are 40 Comments

  1. Karina A. says:

    What a complete post on this new healing technique. Definitely adding a star in my reader. Couple of questions: Does the results start to show in a couple of days or months? I’ve heard so many stories from friends and customers that they see results almost instantly but not sure if it’s because of the therapist or the therapy itself?

    Also, considering your experience so far, do you think it may help with skin disorders? A friend told me that a friend of hers recommended acupuncture but she wasn’t sure if it was the right way to go.

    Thanks for your help and can’t wait for the next post!

    PS – Not sure if you’re creating links-for-keywords but if not, you can easily highlight the word/s you want to make a link (ie the site’s title) and then click the “chain-like” icon on the menu bar in WordPress. This will make the text become an active link and saves you the trouble of typing all the www and http, etc. But if you’re doing it for keywords or content-wise, then great! Will see you later!

    • mylifewithdogs says:

      Thanks so much for your note. I actually wrote about this for a newsletter and have two dogs that see the vet for acupuncture so have a lot to share! To answer your questions: For the Doxie that was diagnosed with IVDD and clearly uncomfortable, yes there was a noticeable difference in his behavior and what he was able to do…even making a circle before sleeping was less effort after only two sessions. But for my senior girl Sandola the difference wasn’t as noticeable after the first session but I was doing this proactively along with other physical therapy so looking at her issues holistically and tackling them a number of ways. Sandy has issues with her joints and neck and we only needed two sessions of acupuncture before noticing a difference… for example, when she gets up after resting or sleeping it used to take a few minutes and now it’s like we’ve reversed time… to maybe a year ago. The actions that took longer are effortless.

      So I’m a HUGE fan of acupuncture but I also see an acupuncturist and know that it helps me so maybe I’m bias 🙂

      Yes- our vet has many patients with chronic skin disorders and allergies and acupuncture really helps.

      Try it and let me know what you think! Thank YOU for the tip about using the chain-like icon… super helpful for hyperlinking! And saving time – I really need a wordpress 101 course. Appreciate these tips – keep them coming. 🙂

  2. […] is about ten and early on in life he was diagnosed with disc disease. Our vet recommended we try Acupuncture and we’ve never looked back! Last week he received his treatment from Dr. […]

  3. […] is about ten and early on in life he was diagnosed with disc disease. Our vet recommended we try Acupuncture and we’ve never looked back! Last week he received his treatment from Dr. […]

  4. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about acupuncture for both humans and animals. I love holistic remedies like this. Glad that it has worked for Bruiser!

  5. Suzanne Dean says:

    What a wonderful post. It is nice to know there are other options for animals to become healthy again. Thank you for sharing this information. I will be sure to pass it on.

  6. Patty says:

    I think it’s wonderful that your beloved pet received so much relief from acupuncture. Any non invasive technique is a great way to approach dealing with problems. (I don’t consider the needles invasive having had acupuncture myself)

  7. I haven’t tried acupuncture on pets yet, but have had great results as a human!

  8. I know several people that have used acupuncture to relieve pain in their pets. I would definitely consider it for my boys if its was ever warranted. Thanks for the information.

  9. Thank you so much for helping spread the word about how helpful acupuncture can. When our Galileo came to us, he had fractures in his spine and was lame in his hind legs. We used acupuncture along with other non-invasive, non-traditional modalities to support him and help him heal. He is now the fastest and the strongest in our pack. It’s important to pet parents to know that there are lost of treatment options out there, so thank yo again for sharing this information!

    • Thank YOU! Im so glad Galileo benefited from this — there are some amazing studies that show after disc disease is diagnosed, Acupuncture is one of the modalities that truly make a difference. It’s so scary and as a pet parent you feel helpless. I agree!

  10. Vicki Green says:

    I have friends who have had good results with acupuncture for their dogs, too. It is great to hear that more vets are doing the extra training to be able to offer this treatment.

  11. Beth says:

    My sister’s senior lab suffered from arthritis. Acupuncture gave her a lot of relief. She had acupuncture once a week, and you could see the difference right after the session. As the week wore on, she started to become more uncomfortable. I’m glad it is working for Bruiser!

  12. I’m really glad the acupuncture helps Bruiser – and you. It is definitely something worth considering before doing more invasive treatments.

  13. This is great info!
    I have heard a lot about it, but never really looked too much into it.

  14. Ava says:

    It’s great to educate pet parents about alternative treatments. My only experience with acupuncture for a pet was not so successful, but no fault of the acupuncture. It was a last resort effort.

  15. MattieDog says:

    When we adopt or temporarily house seniors we always include acupuncture! We have found so much improvement with including acupuncture! The first session is amazing – and we go back for about 6 sessions more in weekly sessions and then monthly thereafter!

  16. Glad Bruiser found some relief! I know others whose dogs have benefitted greatly from acupuncture. If my boys ever get rickety (I’m sure they will), I will certainly look into it.

  17. I haven’t heard about using acupuncture on animals, but several people have recommended it for me.

  18. Maureen says:

    Keira my dog, has had wonderful results with acupuncture. She’s had the traditional technique and once with the electrical stimulation. After two sessions,she was as good as new. I love noninvasive treatment techniques!

  19. Robin says:

    Acupuncture does some amazing things! I’m glad to see that Bruiser was able to see some benefit from it. I know a cat that used to be paralyzed in the back legs, but through acupuncture and other therapies, he can walk again.

  20. I’m glad it helped him! I’ve had acupuncture but Mr. N hasn’t before. I’d consider it for him if he had trouble walking or whatnot.

  21. […] Many folks are looking to alternative therapies when conventional stuff doe  not meet the need.  Here’s an interesting article about acupuncture and pets.Have areda of this. […]