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Veterinary Pet Acupuncture: Stick.... Stay!

Updated on March 6, 2015

Acupunture for Pets?

Does Fido seem to be feeling older than his 8 years? Do you want to put a spring back in your Springer Spaniel's steps? Its time for East to meet West - even when it comes to veterinary care. Believe it or not, but pet acupuncture is a fast growing trend these days.

Pet owners want to help their 4-legged family members feel well without unnecessary veterinary visits and medication. Just like humans, dogs and cats can benefit from Eastern medicine practices, including acupuncture, acupressure and massage.

Lest you think this is an unnecessary expense, many people have reported that the small investment of $50-100 for pet acupuncture has saved them significantly more in traditional vet bills over time.

Canine acupuncture
Canine acupuncture

Veterinary Acupuncture

Acupunture points on a dog
Acupunture points on a dog

What is Pet Acupuncture?

Just as with human beings, animals may not always respond favorably to traditional medical treatments. In particular, dogs, cats and horses may find relief from alternative therapies for arthritis and soft tissue injuries - especially in the back or legs. Pets have also reportedly recovered from traumatic conditions like paralysis through acupuncture treatments.

For those that are not familiar with acupuncture, the ancient practice involves application of small-gauge (thin) needles to specific points on the head and body in order to elicit physiological responses. Most often, acupuncture is reported by humans to relieve pain, but it can also help address a number of holistic conditions.

The actual insertion of needles does not cause discomfort, provided that you work with a trained and certified veterinary acupuncturist. Needles are placed at specific depths and angles and then manipulated slightly during the treatment.

For over 7000 years, acupuncture has been used by humans to treat physical and mental conditions. It fell out of favor in the mid 1900s with the rise of antibiotics and modern medicine, but revival efforts began again in the 1970s when it was officially declared an experimental medical procedure by The American Medical Association Council of Scientific Affairs.

Like human medical treatments, veterinary practices also began to rely more heavily on pharmaceuticals in the past century. Yet, veterinary acupuncture has been in use for about 3000, with the earliest records indicating treatment of elephants in India with the ancient practice.

With the surge in interest for less invasive, holistic healing, veterinary acupuncture and acupressure has become more mainstream, as well. Today, there are nearly 3 million veterinarians and para veterinary assistants that are trained in acupuncture!

Holistic Healing for your Pet

What to Expect with Veterinary Acupuncture

In traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), animals and humans are viewed as individual components of an infinite universe. When life is out of balance, use of ancient practices like acupuncture, massage and herbal medicines can restore balance and good health.

Instead of the Western medicine view that health, disease and illness can be reduced to specific cells and other components of the body, Eastern medicine considers the entire body in healing. The belief is that the sum is greater than its parts.

Perhaps the most striking difference between Western and Eastern medical practices is the fact that, from a Western diagnosis a disease or condition is generally treated the same in all patients. Using TCM, the individual patient's body responds differently to holistic treatments because the underlying causes may differ. In other words, if your dog has acupuncture to treat arthritis, his or her body will respond as an overall system to the trigger points. But with Western medicine, only the inflammation will be addressed - not any other components that may be contributing to pain and stiffness.

The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) offers training classes for veterinary practitioners that wish to learn and master Eastern healing practices. In general, the course covers Chinese history and the theory of acupuncture. You can learn about yin and yang, meridians and alarm points. According to the organization's official website:

The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting excellence in the practice of veterinary acupuncture as an integral part of the total veterinary health care delivery system. The Society endeavors to establish uniformly high standards of veterinary acupuncture practice through its educational programs and accreditation examination and process. IVAS seeks to integrate veterinary acupuncture and the practice of western veterinary science, while also noting that the science of veterinary acupuncture does not overlook related treatment modalities.

There are many stories of miraculous healing through use of TCM where traditional medicine failed. Yet, there are many who do not believe in the effectiveness of acupuncture for pets - or humans. Only you can decide whether to try alternative healing with your pet.

Again, be certain to contact a certified veterinary acupuncturist. Discuss your pet's symptoms, including any underlying injuries and other medical history. The trained clinician should be able to determine whether your furry friend will respond well to acupuncture or acupressure.

Prices for veterinary acupuncture are generally comparable to a regular vet visit. For less than $100 and approximately 30-40 minutes per session, your pet could be on the road to healing!

Can you heal your pet with acupuncture?

Would You Consider Acupuncture for your Pet?

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    • profile image

      Texas001 5 years ago

      For those of you who are asking/wondering if these small needles hurt the animals, I can only say this. I have had acupuncture treatments and the needles are less painful than a mosquito bite. If you notice the pets in the videos don't even flinch when the needles are inserted. If the procedures help the pets as much as my treatments helped me then this is the way to go for a whole lot of pet health problems.

    • Paulart profile image

      Paulart 5 years ago from 2510 Warren Avenue Cheyenne,Wyoming 82001

      Wow fabulous hub. Very first time i have read this information regarding pet health. Great work .Keep it up.

    • profile image

      Jeff Oman 7 years ago

      Thank you for this information, I am looking forward to see other animal related articles from you ;)

    • profile image

      Dr. Harris Meyer 7 years ago

      As a San Francisco Chiropractor, I do not adjust any pets myself but have taken my own dog to another chiro who specializes in that. All living animals have chi and all invertebrates have spines that house the nervous system so why not?

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Wonderful hub. Educational and great for animals in pain. God Bless

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Findthebest - chiropractor visits for cats? I'm not surprised. Isn't it great that we can use the same alternative medicine therapies for our pets as we do for ourselves?

    • FindTheBest profile image

      FindTheBest 7 years ago

      I've been hearing more and more about friends who are taking their dogs or cats in for acupuncture as well as one friend, who takes her cat into monthly chiropractor visits!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Isn't that interesting Eric? Please do let me know if acupuncture works for your dog!

    • EricStifel profile image

      EricStifel 7 years ago

      Wow, that is crazy, it was suggested to us this morning by a vet we have never been to before, to cure one of our dogs of a problems of a weak bladder. She tends to drip pee for no apparent reason, even after coming in from outside, right after peeing out there. We thought they were full of it, but perhaps there is something to this. Hmmmm Thanks for the informative hub. I may just have to look into this a bit more.

    • InwardBeautiful profile image

      InwardBeautiful 7 years ago from Germany

      very nice article! I like it

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Purple Perl 7 years ago from Bangalore,India

      I have 2 pet dogs, but I was not aware of this form of treatment for pets. Thank you for enlightening me,steph.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thank you pakpub - I was going to use one of a porcupine, but those little hedgehogs were too cute!

    • pakpub profile image

      pakpub 7 years ago from Ohio

      Nice hub! The first picture is pretty funny!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks LRobbins! You never know when eastern medicine can help your pets! Perhaps acupuncture can fill the gap left by traditional medicine?

    • LRobbins profile image

      LRobbins 7 years ago from Germany

      Congrats! I would never have thought of doing accupunture on a pet, but I have a cat who seems "imbalanced" so perhaps it's worth a try since nothing elese has worked.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Loveofnight! Thank you - I was just emailing a friend about how I had the idea for the hub. I had been talking to a colleague a few weeks ago and he mentioned that he'd been taking his dog for acupuncture and that it was the best money he had ever spent on pet care. When I saw the contest topics, I knew what I was going to have to write about that.

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 7 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      awesome hub...being pro-acupuncture I've always known it's benefits to the human body but never considered it for pets.....thanks for the heads up

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Money Glitch! Thank you!! I agree, I think (hope) that the acupuncture vets can tell if it hurts the pets. Often, the underlying condition is the more painful though. Thanks for dropping by! :)

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

      Oh my, I know that acupuncture is not suppose to hurt, however, I hope this feels good to the pets. Congrats, on your win! :)

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Sage, thank you for sharing yet another positive story of the power of pet acupuncture! I agree with you that we can easily adapt alternative healing practices for our pets that we would use for ourselves. Particularly when they are non-invasive treatments like this one. Best to you, Steph

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 7 years ago

      I know someone who has used acupuncture on her dog for many years and has had many positive results.

      Many people have benefited from acupuncture, so it makes perfect sense to use it on animals. Why not?

      Great hub very informative and well written.

      Thanks for sharing,


    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Isn't it interesting the information you can learn on the Internet? What I find more surprising is that veterinary acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      nice one if it can take care of our pets, why not? good job,

    • solarshingles profile image

      solarshingles 7 years ago from london

      Wow, that was a brand new health topic for me. I haven't got a clue there is also a pet acupuncture as a healing profession. I guess, the Internet will also help spreading the word about some real wonders of acupuncture treatment for our pets and other animals.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      My thoughts exactly, Sandyspider!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      This is the first one I have seen for the pet. But why not try it.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thank you Teresa and Amy! I love to hear people sharing about the wonders of acupuncture. Its too bad our pets cannot talk, but the miraculous stories of recovery after having these treatments speak volumes for themselves....

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Sally's Trove - thank you! The history of acupuncture in general is fascinating. There is certainly no reason that we cannot use healing practices like those in TCM for our pets. They are loved ones too!

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut

      Terrific hub Steph! I am a huge fan of acupuncture because it has worked for me and many people I know. I'm sure it works just as well for pets. The expense is really minimal when you consider what a typical vet bill can be. :)

    • Teresa McGurk profile image

      Sheila 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

      This is great -- informative and delightful! Thank you!

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      I'm glad to see this informative article on pet acupuncture and hope that the practice becomes even more widespread. Although my pets have never had this experience, I have and can tell you that it saved me the pain, risk, and expense of back surgery. Acupuncture hasn't been around for 7,000 years because it doesn't work. It's definitely time for us Westerners to become better educated and more aware. Great title!