ALLENTOWN, Pa. (WFMZ) - His step is hardly steady and putting one paw in front of the other has become a balancing act for Trooper, the 11-year-old Golden Retriever rescue who suffers from spinal stenosis and old age.
"His condition is degenerative, he could fully lose function of his rear legs," said Trooper's owner Anne Marie Nicholas.
Trooper's owners, Anne Marie and Jason Nicholas, say eventually he'll need to walk with a wheelchair cart but they're prolonging the inevitable by pricking their pooch.
"We thought, let's give it a shot," said Nicholas.
Not quite a shot, but the treatment does involve needles. Trooper gets acupuncture. He's a regular patient of Dr. Gina Tranquillo.
"We're basically initiating the animal's own pathways to heal itself," said Tranquillo, veterinary acupuncturist.
Animal acupuncture works the same way as it does on humans. Dr. Tranquillo finds the acupuncture points along Trooper's back and then sticks him with the tiny needles.
"Lots of dogs will get really quite relaxed and fall asleep," said Tranquillo.
So no, it doesn't hurt the animal. This traditional Chinese medicine dates back more than 2,000 years, aimed at balancing the energy and blood flow in the body.
"We can basically change blood flow directly to organ systems by points that are along the back," said Tranquillo.
Dr. Tranquillo treats a wide range of furry patients, from horses to hyper puppies. She treats dogs with allergies, anxiety, digestive problems, liver failure, arthritis and just plain old age.
She performs electro-acupuncture on Trooper, who's been coming every six to eight weeks for more than a year, sending frequency waves through the needles.
"It's amazing the difference," said Nicholas.
Dr. Tranquillo's animal success stories go on and on, from reversing allergies to helping paralyzed dogs walk again. There's no perfect prescription but she recommends committing to at least three sessions for your pup.
"It's amazing how he'll be, give it a day or two and he'll just have energy, he'll be able to stand up straighter, he'll not be as wobbly when he's walking, he'll be a little more sure-footed, he can stand for a longer period of time," said Nicholas.
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