Dog receives acupunture therapy

Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Alternative medical treatments

Chocolate, a miniature dachshund, receives acupuncture therapy to soothe a herniated lumbar disc on April 12 at the Marina Street Okada Animal Hospital in Tokyo, Japan.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that uses sterile needles or electrical stimulation to target specific points on the body. According to practitioners, the process can relieve pain and tension by balancing energy throughout the body.

Despite skepticism over the efficacy of the treatment, a 2012 study analyzing more than 18,000 cases concluded that pain relief from acupuncture is real.

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Dog receives acupuncture therapy

Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

A very patient pup

Oreo the bulldog waits patiently as an acupuncturist inserts needles along his scalp on April 12 at the Marina Street Okada Animal Hospital. Oreo's owner hopes that the treatment will strengthen the flow of his Qi energy.

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Dog receives laser acupuncture

Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Ancient Chinese medicine meets the 21st century

Chocolate's owner bestows a kiss on the pup as he undergoes laser acupuncture therapy, a treatment in which traditional needles are replaced by low-energy laser beams.

The laser method is less invasive than the traditional needle method, making it ideal for children and skittish pets who may be sensitive to the prick of needles.

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Dogs and owners wait for their acupuncture appointments

Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Growing demand for alternative veterinary medicine

Dogs wait with their owners to receive acupuncture therapy on April 12 at Tokyo's Marina Street Okada Animal Hospital. The number of pet dogs in Japan has increased steadily to 11.5 million animals — meaning almost one-fifth of households.

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