Acupuncture Gets to The Point to Ease Dog’s Lameness


A 10-year-old labrador is back on all paws again after a course of acupuncture treatment helped combat his lameness.

Otis was stricken by abnormalities in his right elbow and hips, which had sparked degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis, compromising his mobility and limiting his quality of life.

However, conventional methods for managing his pain were not safe due to the fact Otis also had liver disease and a kidney complaint known as Fanconi Syndrome.

He was referred to us where Aurora Zoff, an RCVS and American specialist in anaesthesia and analgesia, took charge of the case and worked with her team of pain management experts to find an alternative way to help Otis.

Aurora explained: “Otis was able to exercise for 10 minutes in the morning and up to one hour in the afternoon, but not consistently.

A full clinical and mobility exam confirmed the reduced range of motion of the right elbow, and to some extent of the hips, with associated right forelimb lameness.

The owner was keen to improve Otis’s comfort and exercise levels, without aggravating the liver disease.

Several options were discussed with her and since all oral medications rely on liver metabolism, we opted for a four-week course of acupuncture instead.

We targeted both the forelimbs and hindlimbs and on the last treatment we applied electro acupuncture to achieve a longer acting pain relief.

A bonus was that, while Otis was receiving his acupuncture treatments, his liver enzymes improved and almost normalised.

That allowed us to restart medication a few months later, using a combination of meloxicam, librela and memantine with no side-effects or issues.

Happily, Otis is now able to exercise up to 45 minutes more without slowing down or interrupting his exercise.

In the future, we will probably need to modify his pain management as his osteoarthritis flares up or advances, but regular checks at the pain clinic will allow us to recognise these changes, make amendments in doses and medications and provide different options to keep Otis as mobile as possible.”

Otis’s owner, Rachel Perry, is delighted to have seen such an improvement.

Rachel said: “The emphasis had to be on a pain clinic approach because Otis had ongoing liver disease, meaning usual treatments for his lameness were not available.

“It was a team effort with radiology and orthopaedics also contributing but the pain clinic led the way with the acupuncture and, later, the trial medications.

“Otis has a very good quality of life now, so I’m very grateful for the positive outcome.”

Case Advice or Arranging a Referral

If you are a veterinary professional and would like to discuss a case with one of our team, or require pre-referral advice about a patient, please call 01883 741449Alternatively, to refer a case, please use the online referral form