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Dog worse after acupuncture: What Should I Do?

Acupuncture can provide a variety of health benefits for dogs. However, some owners have observed their dog's condition worsening after acupuncture sessions. In this blog post, our vets in Danbury explain why this occurs and provide guidance on what steps to take if you notice your dog's condition deteriorating after acupuncture. 

What is dog acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate healing and improve overall well-being. It is based on traditional Chinese medicine and has been used for centuries in humans and animals alike. While many dogs respond positively to acupuncture, some may exhibit adverse reactions.

Reasons Your Dog Might Be Worse After Acupuncture

After acupuncture, dogs may experience a temporary worsening of symptoms for up to 48 hours after treatment, and some animals might become sleepy or lethargic for 24 hours after acupuncture. These effects could be due to:

  • Healing crisis: Sometimes, dogs experience a temporary worsening of symptoms after acupuncture. This is known as a healing crisis and can be a sign that the treatment is working, prompting the body to clear out toxins and restore balance. This phase usually lasts for a few days before improvement is seen.
  • Overstimulation: Some dogs may be more sensitive to acupuncture needles, especially if they are placed in highly reactive points. This can cause temporary discomfort or even exacerbate symptoms initially, such as muscle spasms or twitching.
  • Undiagnosed issues: If your dog has an underlying health condition that has yet to be diagnosed, acupuncture might bring these issues to the surface. This can make it seem like the treatment is making your dog worse when, in fact, it’s highlighting problems that need to be addressed.
  • Practitioner skill level: The skill and experience of the practitioner play a crucial role in the effectiveness of acupuncture. Inexperienced practitioners may not place the needles correctly, leading to ineffective or even harmful treatments.

What should you do if your dog gets worse after acupuncture? 

After each acupuncture session, it's important to document any changes in your dog's condition. Note both improvements and any worsening of symptoms. This information will be valuable when discussing your concerns with the veterinarian.

If your dog experiences significant discomfort or a severe worsening of symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

They can assess whether the reaction is within the normal range or if there is cause for concern. Discuss with your veterinarian the possibility of adjusting the acupuncture points or the frequency of treatments.

Sometimes a different approach or a less intense treatment schedule can prevent adverse reactions.

If acupuncture continues to cause problems for your dog, consider other complementary therapies such as chiropractic care, cold laser therapy, or herbal medicine. Your veterinarian can guide you on the best alternatives for your dog's specific condition.

How often should my dog receive acupuncture?

The vet performing the procedure should determine the frequency of your dog's acupuncture sessions. Typically, sessions are scheduled more closely together at the beginning and then spaced out as the dog's condition improves.

For acute problems, such as post-surgery healing, only a few sessions may be needed, while chronic conditions like arthritis may require ongoing treatment. It may take a few sessions to see improvements, but a minimum of three sessions is generally recommended to assess effectiveness.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

Did your dog receive an acupuncture treatment and experience lots of discomfort? Contact our vets in Danbury immediately for a consultation.

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Are you looking for a veterinarian for your cat or dog in Danbury? Mill Plain Veterinary Clinic is now accepting new patients! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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