Why Do Some Dogs Dislike Being Needled?

Why Do Some Dogs Dislike Being Needled?

by Shen Xie, DVM PhD

Author: Chi Institute/Tuesday, October 21, 2014/Categories: TCVM Articles

The majority of the canine population has no problem with, and sometimes even enjoys lifetime acupuncture treatments. However, some dogs may develop an aversion to needles after several initial acupuncture sessions. Why and what to do?
It is always fun to figure out what our four legged creatures feel and think. There may be three possible reasons why some dogs say “no more acupuncture needles please, Doc”:

1. Constitution of the Patient

From the Five Elements principles, we know that the Fire controls the Metal which controls the Wood. When the Metal becomes excessive, it tends to over-control (Cheng-overwhelming cycle) the Wood and/or counter-control (Wu-insulting cycle) the Fire. Therefore, a Wood constitution dog just dislikes being controlled or over-controlled by any Metal energy (the Metal energy here refers to the metal needle itself, as well as the frequency of exposure to the needles) whereas a Fire constitution hates being insulted by the Metal.  

1) Use “baby” needles (Mac Hand Needles, 38 gauge and ¼ inch in length);
2) Limit the number of needles used per session to fewer than 10 needles;
3) Use the “Flying Needle Technique” because it is quick, easy and painless.

2. Individual Difference

Occasionally, even an Earth constitution dog may have an issue with the acupuncture needle. This can be triggered by the unpleasant experiences that were associated with special settings or environments during the previous acupuncture session such as rough-handling, including deep palpation of each acupoint, painful needling techniques, and/or intense noise/light). In addition, every one of us has experienced days when we feel great, and other days where we just don’t feel up to par. Our canine companions can experience similar moods as well.

1) It is the best on these “bad days” to reschedule the session or use the following gentle approaches:
2) Use “baby” needles and fewer acupoints;
3) Use the “Flying Needle Technique”.

3. Too Many Points Per Session and/or too Frequent Treatments

The Fire or Wood constitution dogs can respond well to a few acupoints. These constitutions are particularly sensitive to being needled and do not require as much stimulation. The use of too many needles at the powerful distal points, including LIV-3, GB-41, ST-36, ST-40, ST-41, KID-1, GB-34, LI-4, LI-10 and LI-11, can be over-stimulating, even for other Constitutions, including the Earth. This is particularly noticed when the acupuncture sessions are scheduled at too frequent intervals.

1) Use “baby” needles, fewer acupoints and/or the “Flying Needle Technique;”
2) Schedule one acupuncture session every 3 or more weeks;
3) Ask the caregiver to perform massages and acupressure at the sensitive points each day between sessions.

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