Dog receiving acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture uses stimulation of specific anatomical locations in the body, typically with small gauge needles to promote healing and systemic balance. Veterinary acupuncture has been practiced in China for at least 2,000 years. During the past 25 to 30 years there has been tremendous growth and development of veterinary acupuncture in the United States and abroad.

Acupuncture is used to treat diseases in horses, cattle, dogs, cats, birds and other species, with many clinical studies demonstrating the benefits of veterinary acupuncture. Acupuncture is generally well tolerated by veterinary patients; they often fall asleep during therapy!

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture releases the body’s natural pain-relieving substances, such as opioids, serotonin, endorphins and cannabinoids. Acupuncture also provides stimulation to block pain signals, stimulates healing, and reduces inflammation. Stimulation of specific acupoints can help treat specific conditions, such as nausea, anxiety, constipation, immune-stimulation, and effects on specific organ systems.

Acupuncture can be used to for:

  • Pain Relief
  • Neurologic Conditions (such as spinal cord injury and seizures)
  • Geriatric Diseases (such as arthritis, laryngeal paralysis, and cognitive decline)
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease
  • Muscle and Tendon Injuries
  • Various other conditions (such as cancer, urinary incontinence, Cushing’s disease)

Acupuncture FAQs

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the insertion of thin, sterile needles into specific points on the body to cause a therapeutic effect such as pain relief, hormone regulation, decrease inflammation and immune system regulation.

What diseases does Acupuncture treat?

Veterinary Acupuncture can treat a variety of diseases including but not limited to pain and lameness, neurological disorders (seizures, disc disease, wobbler’s disease), dermatological disorders, behavioral disorders (anxiety, fear and aggression), reproductive disorders (infertility or impotence), gastrointestinal disorders (colic, vomiting, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease), and improvement of quality of life in geriatric and/or cancer patients.

Is Acupuncture safe?

Yes, there are usually minimal to no side effects if performed by a professional. There are rare and minor side-effects such as local infection and bruising in the area where the needle is inserted.

Is Acupuncture painful?

The insertion of acupuncture needles is virtually painless. Most animals become very relaxed and may even become sleepy. However, it does cause an energetic sensation which may be uncomfortable to some animals.

How many treatments are required?

It depends on the condition, how long the condition has been present and the age of the animal. Generally, acute conditions resolve quickly while chronic conditions require multiple treatments. For example, an acute lameness is generally resolved within 3-5 treatments.

Can I use Veterinary Acupuncture with traditional medicine and/or surgery?

Yes, Acupuncture is commonly used in conjunction with traditional modalities and medications.

For more information on acupuncture and its use in animals, please read our Acupuncture in Animals article.


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