Friday, December 28, 2007

Doggie Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of those things that people swear by. It is also one of those things for which it is virtually impossible to design a proper double blind study. People tend to know when they are getting stuck with needles, and the people who are sticking them know, too. Scientific studies have never shown acupuncture to be effective against any physical disease; it has only been shown that it may work for things like pain and nausea where the power of suggestion can affect people's perceptions. Sticking needles in people also probably does trigger the release of endorphins, although I can think of less intrusive ways to do that. Many acupuncture studies show that "sham" acupuncture, where the needles don't penetrate the skin do just as well as real acupuncture. The benefits are no better than the placebo effect. I'm not even going to go into the metaphysical Qi bullshit.

I got this information from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website: "The FDA requires that sterile, nontoxic needles be used." Well, there's a relief. I was really worried about people using toxic needles. However, "when not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause serious adverse effects, including infections and punctured organs." I think I'll opt for the sham procedure. May I be in the control group, please? I bet if a sham acupuncture clinic opened, it would have people who would swear by that, too. Maybe I'll open one. Unfortunately, I'm sure my skepticism would show, and of course it wouldn't work. I would have to believe! to properly convince others.

Archie McPhee sells a dog acupuncture model, and if Archie McPhee sells it, it must work! They are well known as a place to get air fresheners that smell like steak, gummy tapeworms, and devil rubber duckies. They also have acupuncture models for cows, cats, and pigs. What about rabbits, I wonder? And what if you have a pug instead of a German shepherd? The pug is just SOL, I guess. By the way, I also found this model being sold on real veterinary medical supply sites.

I know someone with a PhD who actually takes his elderly dog to a "holistic" vet to get acupuncture. He swears that the dog feels better afterward. Hmm. How about THIS scenario instead:

The dog is a little stiff getting up (he is 14 after all). The person says to the dog,"Oh, poor Bowser (not his real name). Do you feel bad?" Bowser, being a border collie, is not stupid and knows how to get sympathy. He looks sad, and in doggie body language says, "Oh, yes. I feel bad. :-(," and possibly starts limping or just walking stiffly. He probably really is somewhat stiff. So he gets more sympathy.

Side note: When my parents were first married, they had a border collie who cut his foot badly on a piece of glass. For YEARS afterward, all you had to say was,"Gammon, how's your poor paw?" and Gammon would look sad and start limping - just to get sympathy - because it was obvious that his paw didn't hurt at all anymore. I think he eventually even forgot which paw was supposed to be sore and limped on the wrong one occasionally.
When the person takes this dog to get acupuncture, Bowser is petted and made a fuss of, and when he comes out, the owner says (in an excited voice),"Bowser! Do you feel better??" and of course Bowser is going to get excited and his body language will say,"Yes! I feel so much better!" Wag, wag, wriggle. As would any dog who wants to please. He just got a trip in the car and a good pet.

Border collies are smart, but I'm sure most dogs can bamboozle their owners. And human charlatans are always more than willing to fleece people who love their pets.


Kia said...

The doggie acupuncture doll could possibly be confused with a voodoo doll!! Do not use the doggie acupuncture doll while drinking alcohol or using antihistamines, as you may accidentally lapse into voodoo.

Laurie said...

Yikes! I hadn't even thought of that! They should be required to put a warning on the label. Fortunately it would only work on German shepherds. Pugs would be safe. Whew!

Unfortunately, when used properly the needles are placed into the actual dog, so I'm not sure which is worse...