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Pins and Needles


Those of us who think the whole “alternative medicine” thing has gone too far should probably turn the page right now. Alternative medicine isn’t just for people anymore, you see. More and more, veterinarians are using alternative techniques, including acupuncture, to treat pets.

Acupuncture—a process in which thin needles are inserted into specific points in the body to stimulate the nervous system—works for animals in much the same way it does for humans. Common maladies for which vets treat dogs and cats with acupuncture include arthritis, hip and elbow dysplasia, disk problems, and even complications from being hit by a car.

"I see a lot of pets with musculoskeletal problems, like endstage arthritis, which don’t always respond to well to Western medical treatments,” says Jennifer Yamamoto, DVM, of Walnut Creek’s Muller Veterinary Hospital. “A client brought in a dog who had been crippled by arthritis. After starting acupuncture, the dog went home and jumped up on the dining room chair, which she had not done in five years.”

Instant rejuvenation is hardly guaranteed, however: The effectiveness of the treatment is highly variable. Also, it’s not cheap: Muller Veterinary Hospital charges $125 for the first appointment and $75 for subsequent visits.

For information about acupuncture for pets, go to http://www.ivas.org  

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