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On Pins and Needles: Can Acupuncture Really Help Pets?

Sure, there have been plenty of amazing scientific advances in veterinary medicine, but what may be one of the most exciting new treatments is actually thousands of years old.

Today, non-traditional medicine like acupuncture is becoming more popular than ever. Exactly how acupuncture works is uncertain, though clinical trials have actually shown its effectiveness. In fact, acupuncture has the most scientific support of any form of non-traditional healing methods.

Western doctors believe that acupuncture may help release natural chemicals that promote healing within the body or stimulate of neuromechanical mechanisms that diminish pain and promote healing. As developed by Chinese healers over the course of two and a half centuries, this healing art is based on a principle of restoring balance within the body.

In pets, acupuncture is often used for pain relief and to treat diseases of the liver, kidney, and skin. It may help older dogs feel and act many years younger. Acupuncture treatments can be used together with traditional approaches to healing such as physical therapy and medications.

Veterinary acupuncture may not be widely available, though more and more veterinarians are beginning to offer this type of non-traditional treatment within their practices. And if your pet is covered by a Pets Best insurance policy, benefits are available for acupuncture and other non-traditional treatments (check here for details).

Keep in mind that pet acupuncture isn’t a cure-all, but it’s another tool your vet can use to treat ailments and enhance the quality of your pet’s life.

Spaying and neutering procedures produce healthier pets, cleaner homes

Vets advise pet owners to help control the pet populationVeterinarians have noted that some dog owners hesitate to spay or neuter their pets because they want to protect the animal’s personality or sexual identity, preserve the option of breeding purebreds or prevent their pet from becoming lazy. However, industry experts have debunked the anxieties in these claims and tout the benefits to households and communities that occur when dogs are spayed or neutered.

Brenda Barnette, CEO of the Seattle Humane Society recently appeared on Seattle’s KOMO 4 TV News to endorse pet population control.

According to Barnette, spaying and neutering procedures dramatically reduce the risks of breast, uterine and testicular cancer as well as prostate disease in dogs, if performed before the pets turn six-months old.

She further claims that a reduced sex drive will keep both male and female dogs from marking their territory, inside the house and out, with urine, and cause the animals to be more peaceful in the household.

Finally, the U.S. Humane Society reports the cost of a spaying or neutering procedure is a "bargain compared to the cost of ensuring the health of a mother and litter."

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, annual costs of caring for cats and dogs can range from $670 to $1,580.

New Jersey community rescues dozens of cats from shelter

Activists and community members are trying to give homes to straysAnimal activists and common homeowners saved 27 cats from euthanasia this week at the Ewing Animal Shelter in New Jersey.

Pet care and rescue advocate Mark Philips arranged for 11 cats to be sent to a farm in Hunterdon County, rather than be put to death, the Trentonian reports. The felines had been scheduled to be euthanized at the animal shelter because they were considered feral, and not adoptable.

New Jersey state law allows for animals to be put down after seven days in an animal shelter, if it is not adopted or claimed.

In addition to Philips’ contribution, community members adopted at least 14 cats from the Ewing shelter on Community Fest Day 2009 at the College of New Jersey. Two other cats are being placed in foster care and may be adopted later.

Ewing’s mayor, Jack Ball has been working with pet rescue groups to improve conditions at crowded animal shelters, without resorting to euthanasia. Animal control officers tallied 69 cats at the shelter this weekend – significantly more than the limit of 25.

"No cats will die this week," Ball told reporters.
The U.S. Humane Society, an organization that helps to prevent animal cruelty, encourages responsible pet owners to consider adopting a homeless animal from their local shelters.

How to include dogs in Halloween photo shoot

Doggie costumes need to be documented with a photo shootAfter spending hours in costume stores and internet search engines finding a clever and comfortable Halloween outfit for dogs, pet owners may wish to snap a few photos before the costume they so fastidiously selected is shaken off or chewed up. Those wishing to memorialize the delights of their "devil dog" in full Halloween regalia may need a few tips to snap quality pictures, while ensuring acceptable pet care.

Professional animal photographer and recreational dog owner, Sam Allen, gave reporters several tips for taking great photos of costumed pets. Allen’s main piece of advice was to be patient. She explained, "It takes time to get the photo just how you want it."

Allen instructs pet owners to consider their dog’s feelings as they approach the photo shoot, suggesting a puppy may not be as excited to wear strange garb as the owner may be to see them in it. Allowing the dog to sniff the costume and become comfortable with one article of clothing at a time, Allen says, increases the chances of the dog’s approval. Food, toys and treats can also act as motivators.

The photographer further instructs that natural light, an uncluttered background, and camera angles at the dog’s eye level will ensure memorable pictures to keep on the refrigerator.

Some Halloween costume retailers sell dog costumes which range from Zorro to Elvis.

Halloween turns dogs into pumpkins

Pumpkins will be the most popular costumes for dogs this HalloweenDevil dogs, frog princes and French maid poodles are typically content from a child’s imagination or a Walt Disney fairytale; the arrival of Halloween, however, means that pet owners will be scouring costume-shop shelves to find a clever and comfortable costume for their animals.

This week, Yahoo! Reported the occurrence of the search term "Pet Halloween costumes" increased by 3,725 percent from one week ago. As owners prepare for the holiday, local events around the country plan to decide upon the year’s best pet costume.

Recalling an iguana cheerleader that entered a competition last year at a Guardians for Animals event in New Jersey, Guardians spokesperson, Alex Whitney, told the Observer & Eccentric Hometown, "We voted her first place. We couldn’t not do it, when she stood up and waved those pom poms."

The event, which will be held again this year, benefits Guardians, a nonprofit organization aims at rescuing animals from dying in shelters and promoting pet care.

In other regions, pet photo and costume contests are sending proceeds to local animal shelters and the U.S. Humane Society.

An ABC News affiliate reports that the most popular costumes for dogs this year will be pumpkins and devils.

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