Acupuncture for Pets

From it’s origin in China more than 5,000 years ago, acupuncture has been used to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, while also improving overall general health. Due to an amazing reputation of effectiveness, it has recently poked its way into the healthcare and treatment options available to your furry four-legged friends.

What is Veterinary Acupuncture?

Veterinary acupuncture is a complete system of medical techniques focused on correcting imbalances of energy within your pet. Thin, sterile needles are inserted into the patient at very specific points to stimulate nerves, which will then initiate healing responses from the brain and body.

The insertion points are typically located along 14 major channels, which carry blood and energy throughout, are left in for a brief period of time and then removed. This process stimulates pain-relieving responses within the nervous system, while increasing blood flow, toxin removal, and muscle relaxation. The main goal is to stimulate your pet’s own internal systems to promote self-healing within the body. Acupuncture can be used alone, but is commonly combined with other modalities while treating your pet.


What Conditions Can Be Treated With Acupuncture in Animals?

One of the most prominent and best known applications for acupuncture is pain relief. The affects or signals of needling include influencing the activity of adenosine, an amino acid, which becomes active in the skin after an injury to naturally reduce pain.

Acupuncture also shows great benefits as an integrative treatment for injuries and post-surgical procedures to promote and speed up the healing process, while reducing inflammation and soft tissue tension.

What surprises most people about acupuncture is not that it works, but the wide variety of conditions that it can be used to treat. Below is a more comprehensive and complete list of other ways acupuncture can be used to help your pet.

Conditions Treated With Acupuncture:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders- arthritis, disc disease (IVDD), hip dysplasia, muscle spasms
  • Gastrointestinal disorders- vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, etc.
  • Respiratory problems- asthma, chronic cough, chronic sneezing, etc.
  • Neurological disorders- epilepsy, chronic pain, IVDD etc.
  • Adjunct to chemotherapy- decrease side effects of bone marrow suppression, nausea, etc.
  • Urinary disorders- cystitis, incontinence, chronic renal failure, etc.
  • Dermatological problems- lick granulomas, allergic dermatitis, etc.
  • Behavioral problems- anxiety, lick granulomas, urinating outside of the box etc.
  • Autoimmune diseases and Allergies

Acupuncture FAQ

Acupuncture in animals is becoming extremely popular as more and more people understand it’s practical applications and benefits as they apply to pets. Many questions arise within pet owners still learning about what it is, and how acupuncture can help to heal their pet.

Here you’ll find the most common questions owners ask about the procedure: 

Is Acupuncture Safe for My Pet?

 YES. Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatments for animals when administered by a properly trained veterinarian. NOTE: Acupuncture is considered a surgical procedure by law in most states. Anyone performing acupuncture on your pet should be a licensed veterinarian, certified in acupuncture. 


Does Acupuncture Hurt My Pet?

In almost all cases, no. While extremely fine needles are used in the procedure, they are virtually painless and do not cause discomfort or harm your pet. Every once in awhile, a muscle or nerve may react positively to the insertion and cause a dull pinch or what could be compared to a very mild static charge, but once the needles are in place, there should be no pain at all. Many pets enjoy acupuncture as it relaxes them and even causes them to become sleepy.

Will My Pet Sit Still for Acupuncture?

Yes, most pets will. They will enjoy the calm and comfort of one of our patient suites, which include beds and couches to help your pet relax and feel at home. Other pets are quite happy sitting in their owner’s lap as the procedure is taking place.

How Many Treatments will my Pet Need?    

It depends on what your pet is being treated for. Some issues may be resolved with as little as one treatment. Other, more chronic issues may take several treatments over a period of time for the best results. Treatments can last between 30-60 minutes each. Some people get acupuncture for their pets every few months as a routine maintenance, to help keep them in optimal health!

Are there any Side Effects from Acupuncture?

Side effects from acupuncture are rare, but they do exist. Your pet may have some mild soreness, or may be sleepy for the remainder of the day. Both are indications that physiological changes are taking place, and an indication that the acupuncture is doing it’s job… to stimulate your pet’s body systems and promote healing!

What Types of Pets Can Receive Acupuncture?

Dogs, cats, horses are the patients seen most commonly by animal acupuncturists, but they aren’t the only pets receiving treatment! Others include, but are not limited to goats, cows, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets and sheep.

Are there Different Types of Acupuncture? 

Yes. While standard acupuncture methods utilize a dry needle, there are other forms of acupuncture that your pet may receive including aqua-acupuncture, where liquids such as saline or vitamin B-12 are injected into the acupuncture point, or electrical acupuncture, where the needles are connected with electrical leads which help to stimulate the needles for increased pain reduction. Both are painless and provide great benefits to your pet.


*other resources on the benefits of acupuncture http://www.itmonline.org/arts/acuintro.htm

pet accupuncture

Next Steps...

Interested in learning more about acupuncture for pets or getting treatment for your pet?  Please call our office and schedule a consultation today!