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Canine Acupuncture Vet

Updated on June 15, 2011

Acupuncture for Dogs - natural medicine from Ancient China!

The ancient art of acupuncture is alive and well. It is available for dogs.

Dogs respond extremely well to acupuncture. There are a great many chronic diseases of dogs, which do not respond to conventional drugs at all or are just held in check by drugs, with an ongoing risk of side effects (aka adverse effects).

Happily, some of these cases will respond to acupuncture, delivered by a holistic vet with the ability to integrate acupuncture with diet (natural feeding work), with chiropractic manipulation and with internal medicine, such as homeopathy or herbs (herbal medicine).

This article introduces the subject and gives an outline of canine acupuncture, showing its methodology, application and scope.

Three Emperors
Three Emperors


Ancient Chinese Enigma

Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. That ancient medical discipline was extremely holistic, in that it ensured that diet, lifestyle, back alignment etc. were optimised, applying needling (or other point stimulation techniques) integrated with internal medicine, to stimulate and guide the body's innate healing capability. The model of the body and of disease is entirely different from that proposed by modern Western cultures. The Chinese described a life energy (Qi - pronounced Chi) which comprised a balance of Yin and Yang and which flowed through the body in acupuncture meridians or channels. Disease occurs if Yin and Yang are unbalanced and if the energy flow is disturbed or blocked. Therapy is applied by stimulating points on these meridians (acupuncture points), releasing blockage and restoring balance.

In modern developed countries, the holistic method is often by-passed, using needling (or other method of point stimulation) alone, without the internal medicine, without the chiropractic manipulation and without sorting diet and lifestyle. This superficial approach to acupuncture diminishes its benefits.

Because of the body's incredible healing capability, acupuncture, holistically applied, can show surprising results, even in cases in which modern drug medicine has failed to provide benefit.

Acupuncture meridians in the dog (first cycle acc. C. Day)
Acupuncture meridians in the dog (first cycle acc. C. Day)

The Meridians aka Channels

The energy network of the body

On each side of the body are six Yang meridians and six Yin meridians.

These are, starting at the Heart meridian:

Heart (Yin)

Small Intestine (Yang)

Bladder (Yang)

Kidney (Yin)

Pericardium (Yin)

Triple Heater (Yang)

Gall Bladder (Yang)

Liver (Yin)

Lung (Yin)

Large Intestine (Yang)

Stomach (Yang)

Spleen/Pancreas (Yin)

Each 'cycle' of four begins and ends in the region of the heart and its period of especial activity covers 8 hours of the 24-hour day.

In the modern West, we do not recognise the organ 'Triple Heater' aka 'Triple Burner'. In Ancient China, this was a generic term covering the three body cavities (Thorax, Abdomen and Pelvis).

The routes of the meridians in humans have been well-mapped and documented. There is still much debate how those maps (charts) correlate with animal acupuncture.

Dalmatian dog needling for spondylosis
Dalmatian dog needling for spondylosis

Conditions that respond

Acupuncture is used in canine veterinary practice for a multitude of conditions and problems. Here are some of those in which we have witnessed successful outcomes.

Back Pain





Neck Pain

Elbow Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia


Wobbler Syndrome


CDRM (some cases respond, esp. if older than 9 years at onset)

An acupuncture vet should be able to explain the possibilities for you.

Examples of acupuncture needles
Examples of acupuncture needles

Point stimulation

Acupuncture points can be stimulated by needling, by moxibustion (heat), by electric impulse, by pressure, by LASER, by injection and by implant.

Dogs are, by and large, very disposed to accept needling and to enjoy the treatment. We do not sedate dogs that are unwilling, preferring instead to find a means of stimulus that they do like. Sedation will mask responses and even alter responses, quite apart from the possibility and risk of drug side-effects.


Clever, those Ancient Chinese!

Your experience

Have you or has your dog received Acupuncture?

Your opinion

Should acupuncture be available for dogs?

See results
Acupuncture dog case
Acupuncture dog case


Canine Acupuncture can be an extra possibility for your dog, when other medical systems have failed or as a first-line input.

Canine Acupuncture is not harmful.

Canine Acupuncture is usually well-accepted, even enjoyed.

Canine Acupuncture works best when combined with diet and lifestyle improvement, chiropractic manipulation and internal medicine (e.g. medicinal herbs or homeopathy).

The author is independent of commercial interest or sponsorship and cannot endorse any products or advertising material attached to this lens.

For more information, visit AVMC's information website (over 600 pages).

Chris Day - holistic vet - runs the Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre in Oxfordshire (AVMC) in Oxfordshire, UK.

Canine acupuncture relaxed
Canine acupuncture relaxed

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    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @Krafick: Yes, you are absolutely right - there is still debate over the route of some of the meridians and the location of points.

    • Krafick profile image

      Krafick 6 years ago

      Amazing lens. I didn't know acupuncture was available to animals. To me it looks like a superhuman task for those practising it. I remember I had bought an acupuncture book for a friend who was studying medicine while I was a student. I had looked at all the charts before offering it to him. There must be a lot of research to be carried out to produce similar drawings for animals... Rafick

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @Wedding Mom: Thanks for your support.

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 6 years ago

      Yet another great lens on how to take care of our pets. Wonderful job Chris.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @norma-holt: Thanks for this visit and for your kindness - you're an angel!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      Thank you Chris for sharing your expertise on this very important subject. *-*Blessed*-* and fetaured on Angel Blessings for Dogs on Squidoo

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @poutine: Yes, it's quite common now. Thanks for visiting and supporting.

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      Very interesting. I had no idea that acupuncture could be used on dogs.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @asiliveandbreathe: Yes - it's most surprising, the first few times seen.

    • asiliveandbreathe profile image

      asiliveandbreathe 6 years ago

      I have seen this therapy used to good effect, on Cesar Millan's TV show "The Dog Whisperer".

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      @darciefrench lm: We certainly should - you're right about cutting edge technology and it's thousands of years old! That could imply that our modern world is not necessarily looking in the right direction.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      This is awesome information that is on the cutting edge of veterinary health. I'm sure we'll see a lot more acupuncture and acupressure for dogs. Great lens!