Will acupuncture help my arthritic dog?

(Q) My nine-year-old Poodle, Suzie, suffers from arthritis and is being treated by the vet.

However, I'd also like to give her a gentle massage with essential oils. Would this be helpful? And if so, what essential oils should I use and do I have to dilute them into a carrier oil?

(A) Homeopathic vet Holly Mash says: If you would like to use natural treatments and remedies to help Suzie with her arthritis I would recommend acupuncture and certain homeopathic remedies, rather than essential oils.

Acupuncture is an effective form of pain relief for arthritis and will stimulate the release of Suzie's own natural internal painkillers to ease her joints.

More and more vets are training in acupuncture; ask at your surgery where your nearest qualified veterinary acupuncturist is. There are also several homeopathic remedies that are appropriate for helping with the symptoms of arthritis, such as arnica, rhus tox, and ruta grav.

These can be obtained from a homeopathic pharmacy. Massage is of course very good too, and if you gently rub Suzie's legs and along her back when she first gets up in the morning, or if she is particularly stiff after a walk, then this will be beneficial for her I'm sure.

Fact file

  • Acupuncture can help with various conditions such as arthritis, incontinence, skin problems, hip dysplasia, allergic conditions, muscle, tendon and ligament injuries, and disc problems - to name but a few.
  • Translated, the word acupuncture literally means ‘piercing with a sharp instrument'.
  • Acupuncture needles are very fine and are inserted into the skin to a depth of between 5 and 15mm depending on the condition being treated.
  • The dog's body is made up of specific acupuncture points. Needles are inserted at different points to treat different conditions, although the position of the needles may be nowhere near the affected area.
  • Most dogs cope with acupuncture really well - some even become so relaxed that they fall asleep - but a few take exception to the needles.
  • Acupuncture sessions can last from around 30 minutes up to an hour and the needles themselves may be left in place for between five and 20 minutes.