By Libby Smith

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) Acupuncture has been around a long time, and many people swear by it to ease their ailments.

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Now, veterinarians at Colorado State University are studying whether the needles will work in dogs.

“We are looking for things that help dogs with arthritis,” said Dr. Felix Duerr, an assistant professor at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Right now, veterinarians usually recommend exercise, weight loss, and supplements, like fish oil and glucosamine, for dogs in early stages of osteoarthritis.

“Then you get into some of the drugs that can actually have some side effects,” Duerr told CBS4.

He’s beginning a large scale study to see if needle treatments can ease the pain in pets.

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“There’s just a lack of knowledge of do dogs respond,” Duerr explained.

Dr. Felix Duerr and his dog Zach (credit: CBS)

His own dog, Zach, is beginning to show early signs of osteoarthritis.

“You can tell when he’s at home there’s a little bit of lameness,” he said.

In the double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 48 dogs, who have arthritis, but are otherwise healthy, will undergo acupuncture and placebo treatments. Dr. Duerr will use gait analysis, activity tracking collars, veterinary exams, and owner journals to track the results.

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“A lot of people, owners and veterinarians, they probably feel the same as I do, they want to know, ‘Hey, does it actually do something?’ Before we invest the money and time into it.”

LINK: Information About The Acupuncture Study

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Libby Smith is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. If you have a story you’d like to tell CBS4 about, call 303-863-TIPS (8477) or visit the News Tips section.