Published: Aug 10, 2011 10:43 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 10, 2011 10:50 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla.- It's normally reserved for people, but some animal lovers are now purchasing acupuncture for their pets. The ancient Chinese treatment is pricey, but promises a more natural approach at healing a laundry list of animal ailments.

With a few precise pricks, 8-year old lab mix Sam's hip dysplasia pain is temporarily at bay. Coral Veterinary Clinic's Dr. David Nichols targets specific points on the pup with small, stainless steel pins.

"By stimulating them, you actually stimulate the release of some of these neuro-transmitters and endorphins and things like that, that have a positive affect on the body," Nichols said Wednesday.
While the pooch doesn't exactly look comfortable, vets swear the treatment isn't just a splurge for people. Nichols says it's curing an array of pet ailments, too...and he has a lengthy client list to prove it.

"Arthritis is probably number one, some neurological problems, I treat some dogs that have seizures. Sometimes paralysis issues, it seems to help those animals out," Nichols said.

Coral Veterinary Clinic offers the service as a natural alternative to prescriptions and also as a safe way to treat pets that are too old for surgery. While a single treatment will set you back about $100, some end-of-session wagging keeps the clientele coming back.

"When you're done they get up and shake themselves and they seem to walk out of here with their tail wagging and a little bit of a sparkle in their eye," Nichols said.

Dr. Nichols has treated cats, dogs, and even birds with acupuncture therapy. Recently, he helped Sanibel's Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife perform acupuncture treatment on an armadillo.