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Benefits of Acupuncture for Pets and What It Treats

Acupuncture therapy for pets: What does it treat?

Acupuncture has been steadily gaining popularity among individuals seeking alternative treatment for various medical issues, including pain, headaches, and blood pressure problems. The ancient Chinese practice utilizes needles to stimulate specific points of the body, which increases blood flow in those target areas; triggering the body’s natural painkillers.

Now, as more pet owners search for holistic methods to lessen their furry friends’ ailments, many are turning to pet acupuncture to ease pain and discomfort. It’s all about giving pets the tools to live happier and fuller lives!

What are the benefits of acupuncture for pets? 

Proper acupuncture that’s performed by a certified veterinary acupuncturist can provide numerous health benefits for your beloved pet. You may want to consider this form of natural treatment if your furry friend is suffering from discomfort, whether it’s musculoskeletal, respiratory, skin, or gastrointestinal.

In veterinary medicine, acupuncture has been successfully used as a complementary treatment for the following medical problems:

  • Arthritis or degenerative joint disease
  • Allergic dermatitis and other skin disorders
  • Respiratory disease
  • Pain control
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Neurological diseases such as paresis, paralysis, or back issues
  • Behavioral problems
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Reducing pain after surgery

Will my pet be uncomfortable?

It’s easy to assume that acupuncture can be an uncomfortable or even painful experience for your pet. Acupuncture utilizes thin and lightweight needles, so it’s unlikely your pet will feel much during the treatment, which lasts between 5 and 30 minutes. While many pets require gentle restraint during a session, as the patient adapts to the treatment, less restraint may be necessary. Some pet owners have found that their pup or feline have even fallen asleep during the treatment!

Although pet acupuncture is not meant as a replacement for general veterinary medicine or other medical procedures, acupuncture may be an ideal complement to your pet’s treatments and medicines. With pet acupuncture, it’s important to be patient as it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The goal is for your pet to remain symptom-free between each session.

The number of acupuncture sessions recommended by your veterinarian will vary depending on the condition being treated. It may take several pet acupuncture sessions before you notice a significant change in your pet’s demeanor or apparent pain level. Most patients will see a positive response after 4 to 8 treatments. Others with conditions like arthritis may require regular sessions year-round to maintain the positive results. However, each case is unique to a pet and their specific needs. Talk with your veterinarian to determine what to expect from acupuncture treatments.

Are you interested in trying acupuncture for your beloved pet? Find a location near you and set up an appointment for a consultation!

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately. 

Most Common Age-Related Diseases in Senior Pets

Who has heard the saying “Aging is a Disease”? We definitely have! Aging is a natural process that happens to all of us, but that doesn’t mean aging itself is a disease. What’s true is that senior pets are more susceptible to specific health conditions as a result of aging. Thanks to the advancements in veterinary medicine, our fur babies can live longer and happier lives – with some extra TLC! Here are some of the most common age-related diseases, symptoms to look for, and how they can affect your pets. 

  • Arthritis: We know how much dogs love to take walks, and cats love to jump onto their perch. If your pet begins limping on those walks or is hesitating to run and jump on their perch, they may be showing early signs of arthritis. Arthritis is a common disease amongst senior pets, where one or more of the joints are inflamed, resulting in continuous pain and muscle stiffness. Some large breed dogs such as German Shepards, Labrador, and Golden Retrievers have a genetic predisposition to develop the disease in their elbows and hips. The best way to help prevent your pet from developing arthritis is weight management, which can help decrease the stress put on certain joints. In some cases, we can prescribe medication to help reduce swelling and pain. If you are noticing any changes in your pet’s physical abilities, please contact us immediately so we can discuss the options available to keep your pets feeling their best.
  • Vision Loss: Just as our vision can become impaired with age, so can our pets! The most common diseases that cause vision loss in pets are diabetes, glaucoma, and cataracts.  Vision loss can be hard to detect in pets because they often adapt by compensating with their other senses. Depending on the cause of vision loss, it can make it more challenging to prevent. Some common symptoms of vision loss include bumping into objects, cloudy, discolored or inflamed eyes, and even clumsiness and disorientation. 
  • Dental Disease:  Did you know that dental disease is the number one medical problem in dogs and cats? Yes, you read that, right! Dental disease (also known as periodontal disease) is an inflammatory disease from leftover bacteria in the mouth, causing symptoms such as bad breath, problems eating, red gums and bleeding, and in severe cases, loss of teeth. If dental disease is left untreated, it can have adverse effects on the large organs in the body – including the heart, liver, and kidneys. To help fight dental disease, annual dental cleanings, and daily home care are highly recommended. Talk with us at your next appointment about preventative care and treatment options. 
  • Cognitive Dysfunction: You may notice that your pet is beginning to have more of those “senior moments.” It may be that your pet is moving slower than usual, appearing to be more anxious or even seems disoriented and confused in familiar spaces. These behaviors can be the beginning signs of cognitive dysfunction – very similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Cognitive dysfunction is a neurological disease related to the aging of the mind, that can slow down all mental and motor functions as well as trained behaviors. The symptoms are typically mild and come on gradually, making it difficult to initially detect. If you suspect your pet is developing any of these symptoms or notice changes in their behavior, contact us right away.
  • Heart and Kidney Disease: With age, many of the large organs in the body are known to slow down. Heart and kidney disease are similar in that they both consist of progressive loss of the organ function. Some common symptoms of heart disease are lethargy, coughing, and rapid breathing. Similarly, common symptoms of kidney disease include lethargy, decreased appetite, and increased urination and thirst. Both of these diseases are tricky to detect because the symptoms can either appear gradually or very suddenly. While both can be preventable, treatment may consist of oral medication and changes to their diet.

Ultimately, you cannot stop the aging of your pups and kitties; but what we can do is work together in an effort to detect these disease symptoms sooner rather than later. As your trusted partner in pet health care, we want to help ensure your pet leads the healthiest and happiest life possible!

Common Signs of Pain in Animals

How to recognize the common signs of pain in animals

It’s not uncommon for pets to get injured. With all the outdoor activities and rough-and-tumble play throughout the day, accidents are certainly unavoidable. While injuries are a source of pain for many animals, health ailments are also responsible for pain and discomfort in pets. Pain commonly causes changes in an animal’s demeanor and often indicates that they are experiencing discomfort. Behaviors like whimpering, anxiety, and other changes are the ways our animals communicate to us that there is something wrong and they need our help.

Dogs and cats have different ways of showing pain, but there is some overlap in the behaviors that these animals display if they’re feeling under the weather. Some of these shared behaviors may include:

  • Decrease or loss of appetite
  • Quiet or submissive behavior
  • Hissing, howling, whimpering or growling
  • Increased and excessive grooming, licking self, biting self, etc.

While there are many similar pain-related behaviors among dogs and cats, here are some symptoms that can often be unique to each animal.

Signs of Dog Pain

Unique to dogs, these indicators can signal that a trip to the vet is in order:

    • Increased aggression. Unlike cats, dogs can display aggression if they aren’t feeling well. Don’t take this behavior personally. Aggression when sick is known as a defense mechanism used to protect against unwanted bothering.

 

  • Restlessness. A dog in pain may not be able to settle down comfortably. If your dog seems agitated and stiff, watch for a limp and lethargy – these can be important clues for recognizing hip pain or arthritis. A dog that arches their back or tends to stretch more than usual may also be indicating back pain or spinal issues.

 

  • Squinting. Dogs with eye pain may react by squinting. Smaller pupils can also be an indication of pain. Corneal ulcers and other eye diseases should be treated immediately to reduce the chances of permanent damage.

Signs of Cat Pain

Often quiet and lackadaisical, it can be hard to know when these creatures are hurting. So how exactly do you know if a cat is in pain? Keep a lookout for these behaviors:

 

  • Hiding. Hiding is one way that cats can ensure that they won’t be bothered. Typically social creatures, a cat that’s in hiding for long periods of time may be a sign of something awry.
  • Hunching posture. A change in posture can signal a cat in pain. Sitting with their paws underneath them, showing disinterest in their surroundings or sitting alone could indicate a number of different health ailments, including abdominal pain, constipation, urinary infections and in some cases an abscess, cancer, pancreatitis, feline panleukopenia, or gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Trouble using the litter box. Back or hip pain can prevent a cat from crouching in the right position to use the litter box. Feces and urine on the sides of the box may hint that your cat is having some mobility issues.

 

What to do when your dog or cat shows signs of pain

If your pet is exhibiting one or more of these behaviors, it’s best to take them in for a visit with your veterinarian. Even though animals can be masters at masking their injury or ailments, it’s important that you still take your pet to the vet for further examination. There are many options available to treat pain in animals including analgesic medications, physical rehabilitation, acupuncture, laser therapy, and therapeutic massage. Your vet can provide insight into what’s happening with your pet, and discuss treatment options. If you suspect your pet may be experiencing pain and discomfort, make an appointment with your vet right away. The team at AZPetVet is available 7 days a week to help you ensure your pet is living their best life, pain free.

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

 

How to keep your pets safe around wild animals

What to do when you encounter a wild animal with your pet

When living in Arizona, encountering a wild animal with your pet isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. Depending on where you live in the Valley, your pet may be more or less likely to share the backyard with many different guests during the fall season. While these wild animals may look cute and tame, they can often pose a threat to your domesticated pet if they feel threatened. Here are a few tips for pet owners to ensure that both your animal and those in the wild are safe from harm.

Hiking safety 

It can be tempting to let your dog off-leash when hiking in wooded or desert areas, but this can be dangerous. When roaming freely, you never know what your pet may confront or be exposed to if the opportunity arises. Without the restraint of a leash, dogs encountering a wild animal for the first time can be aggressive and fearless. Unfortunately for Fido, these animals often have pokey quills, strong hooves, fangs, or other defense mechanisms. Giving wild animals enough space – think of it as a buffer zone – is another way to reduce you and your pet’s risk of injury. Keeping your dog on a leash ensures that they won’t run off and potentially spook an animal.

  • If you want to take more than one of your pets on a hike, bring another person along! Attempting to manage more than one pet alone while hiking through the desert can be challenging, so having an extra set of hands can help you act in an emergency, and of course, keep you and your pets as safe as possible.

Backyard safety

Your backyard may seem like a safe place for your pets to roam about, but there are still a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to wild animal safety.

  • No food left behind. Wild animals are curious, especially if there’s food involved! Make sure to take food bowls back into the house after mealtime, and minimize human clutter that could potentially attract unwanted wild animals to your backyard.
  • Scoop the poop. Pet waste is another drawing factor that piques the interest of animals near and far — picking up after your pet keeps your yard clean and free of wild visitors.
  • Pet supervision. Wild animals are most likely to be in the neighborhood in the early morning and late at night. Accompanying your pet outdoors during these times is a great safety measure to reduce the chance of harm coming to your animal. If you do happen to confront an animal, try to  stay as calm as possible, make yourself appear as big as possible, and make loud noises to deter the animal from approaching.

What to do if your pet is injured 

Most wild animals are more afraid of you than you are of them; and while the odds of your pet getting hurt by a wild animal are relatively slim, it absolutely can happen! In the event that your animal is injured by a wild animal, it is essential to be cautious. Pain and fear can make even the tamest pet act aggressive and snappy. First, ensure that the danger/threat has passed. Second, assess the injury carefully while limiting contact with your pet in order not to aggravate the wound or pain. Third, before moving your pet find a veterinary location near you immediately (if possible) and call to notify the staff you will be bringing the injured pet to the clinic. Never delay in obtaining treatment for your pet.

Also, remember to remain as calm as possible in order to help reassure your pet that they are safe, and that you are there to care for them.

Senior Pet Exams

We know how important your pup is to your family, and they are just as important to us! As your dog enters the “golden years,” their health care needs change – with increased chances of diseases and age-related conditions. As we know, our dogs cannot tell us if they are sick, and with an older pet’s increased chances of illness, senior pet exams are key in keeping your furry family member healthy. With this in mind, we want to share some information with you on senior pet exams to help you make the most informed decisions for your dog’s overall health.

A very common question we get is, “When is my dog considered a senior?” It’s no secret that pups age faster than humans! According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, canines are generally considered “seniors” at age seven – although this can be different for each pet depending on their genetics, home environment, and overall health.  

 What can I expect during a senior check-up? Most senior exams contain these components:

  1.  History: The exam typically begins with various questions – checking for any recent changes in their lifestyle, habits, appetite, mobility, mood, etc. We will also ask about their diet and any medications or supplements they are taking. This allows us to take a current “snapshot” of your pup’s health, seeing if any of these differences indicate a health concern. 
  2. Complete Physical Examination: A nose to tail examination is conducted to assess the external appearance and body condition, checking for any abnormalities. We check their teeth and gums, feel for lumps and bumps, listen to the heart and lungs, feel and move the joints, and examine the abdomen for any internal organ changes that we may be able to feel from the outside. In a senior pet exam, we are looking for signs of aging such as dental disease, hyperthyroidism (specifically in felines) growths, heart disease, arthritis, and changes in the size of some internal organs.
  3. Lab Work: We recommend senior pets receive routine lab testing at least once a year. This helps us evaluate their overall wellness while detecting specific health conditions that may not be visible. Annual testing is also valuable because it indicates what ‘normal’ is for your pet. There is a range of normal for all of us – pets included – and conducting annual tests can show us those subtle drops or increases that could be pre-indicators in potential areas of concern. The tests recommended will vary depending on your specific pet’s needs, but the minimum testing suggested is a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. 

Aging typically means more visits to the doctor. We encourage you to bring your dog in at least twice a year for senior exams. Depending on their overall health condition, this number may vary, so make sure to talk with us at your next appointment about what is best for your pup.

Trust us when we say that we understand senior pets care sounds a bit overwhelming and scary at first. As the saying goes, “Prevention is the best medicine,” and more frequent vet visits will allow us to detect health conditions in a more timely manner. As your trusted partner in pet health care, we want to help ensure you can continue creating fun memories with your sidekick!