A GERIATRIC Great Dane is defying the odds – thanks to the healing powers of acupuncture.

Suzie is enjoying a new lease of life after vets suggested acupuncture sessions could help to ease the pain of arthritis.

After just three sessions, owners Velma and Andrew Golightly have noticed a huge difference in their pet, who is much more mobile, alert and has an improved appetite.

At the age of 11, Suzie is confounding vets because Great Danes have a shorter life expectancy than other dog breeds. When Suzie started slowing down and showing signs of age, her owners took her to Gilmoor Vets in Gilesgate, Durham City, where vets, who have always cared for the family’s pets, recommended a combination of medication and acupuncture sessions with vet Sue Lo.

Acupuncture works by stimulating nerves under the skin and in muscle tissue, prompting the body to produce pain-relieving endorphins and healing chemicals.

The procedure is increasingly common for treating aches and pains in humans – but it is still relatively new in the treatment of animals.

Sue studied for a foundation course in Western acupuncture – and has seen positive improvements in pets she has treated, with Suzie her biggest success story so far.

“I am interested in pain management and helping older pets. Acupuncture is a complementary therapy that can bring added benefits when treating pets.

“We are using the treatment as part of our care of elderly pets are seeing some excellent results.

“It can be used to help a range of conditions, including arthritis in elderly pets, cystitis, muscular pain and even constipation.“Suzie is coming up to 12 and that is old for a Great Dane, but acupuncture is making her more comfortable and her owners have noticed a real difference.”

Suzie lives with Velma and Andrew and their 14-year-old triplet daughters Alexandra, Eleanor and Felicia in Witton-le-Wear. They adopted her from the Great Dane Adoption Society.

She has always been a fit and active dog, but in her twilight years, she has struggled with arthritis until they turned to acupuncture.

Velma said: “She has had arthritis for the last couple of years and has had no strength in her back end. Gilmoor Vets suggested increasing her pain killers, but said they’d had success with acupuncture.

“By the third week, we had noticed a massive difference. She is much more alert and doesn’t appear to be in as much pain. The strength has returned to her back end and she has even managed a little skip and can jump into the car.

“She is happy having the needles placed in her and she’s getting stronger after every session.”

Suzie visited Gilmoor Vets this week to help the practice launch their Prime of Life campaign at its surgeries in Durham, Sunderland and Spennymoor to encourage owners to pay extra attention to signs of change in their pet’s health and behaviour as they enter their golden years.

Depending on their size and breed, a dog is generally classed as geriatric when aged over 13 – and Suzie is classed as at least 80 in human years.