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Acupuncture and your Dog

Updated on September 1, 2008

Say What?

Demonstration of Doggie Acupuncture


Natural healing, organic food, herbal remedies are all growing fields of interest in our never ending search for the best solutions in health care. So, it shouldn't be too surprising that acupuncture has made it's way into the dog arena. A method of healing that might prove to be the most effective and with the least amount of side-effects. It seems we've come full-circle and collectively decided to take responsibility for the health of our pets back into our own hands, seeking a natural approach and steering away from man-made medicines. Having plenty of options is always a good thing, especially these days.

Acupuncture is one form of an ancient holistic approach that is becoming increasingly popular and with real promise of an ultimate overall healing. As with the therapeutic advantages of massage and the promise of certain herbal treatments, acupuncture is an exciting new area to explore.

A Little History

Acupuncture is an ancient medical treatment first used in India some 7,000 years ago, and then later spread to China around 5,000 years ago. The earliest known recorded acupuncture leads back to India and was used as a common treatment for elephants. From there, China began their research and through the initiation of TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine) came the work of the most recognized and documented acupuncturist known as Shun Yang.

The earliest record of acupuncture studies in America were that of Sir William Osler, a Harvard and Yale Professor who had his findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1926. TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine) became a re-emerging natural alternative that regained it's popularity, even though Western culture put up initial resistance. It is now growing in demand and doctors of Veterinary Medicine are increasingly considering certification in order to keep up with patients requests.

Acupuncture is proving to be a highly successful method of treatment and viable for dogs as well as for humans. In fact, dogs seem to be more in tune with acupuncture's intrinsic value. Probably because dogs are innately without preconceived judgments and more trusting, eliminating the natural subconscious defenses of the human mind.

The theory behind acupuncture is the notion that healing should affect the whole body, not the just the specific area of pain. That's where fine gage sterile needles come in. These extremely thin needles are aligned to match specific pressure points and allow blocked channels to once again resume a natural flow. Dogs actually have 150 acupuncture points on their bodies. After proper insertion, the channels would re-open and ultimately allow overall balance and harmony to resume.

To understand how acupuncture works, you must understand the concept of "Qi" pronounced as "Chee". A positive life energy force believed to travel throughout your body and run freely through meridians. When you become ill, these channels become blocked with disease or pain. Relieving blockage will quicken healing time and lessen pain substantially.

If your dog is in need of relief, it would seem acupuncture would be of great benefit and an excellent source of expedited healing. Something to consider if regular veterinary methods seem to be stalled or not working at all.

It's important to keep in mind that not all dogs react well to the methods of acupuncture and just like we humans are unique, individual results will vary. For example, If you're dog is overly hyper, it may serve as a frustrating experience for both doctor and patient. Most dogs, however, find the total acupuncture process relieving and comfortable, once needles have been properly administered and seem to delight in having their "Qi" corrected.

Benefits of Acupuncture

The American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture believes the most evident benefits of acupuncture to be improvement in circulation, respiratory, digestive tract, reproductive issues, joint pain, dysplasia, chronic degenerative joint disease, gastrointestinal, neurological, urinary tract disorders and arthritis. Actually, in whatever way acupuncture can help healing in humans, it can work on the same premise with dogs. Herbal remedies and therapeutic massage should also be incorporated into a prescription for overall healing.

The most common animals that veterinarians choose acupuncture to treat is becoming an extensive list; dogs, cats, horses, cows, birds, rabbits and even ferrets have all had documented success.

Normally, a vet may prescribe about 4-8 sessions of acupuncture in order to realistically judge how effective the treatments have been. Some pet owners, however, have noticed a great reaction from their pets after the very first session. The treatments last between 30 seconds to 30 minutes and scheduled visits will vary according to the specific ailment. The cost varies greatly and it would be wise to shop around.


Acupuncture should not be considered if your animal is under medication, has a high fever or pregnant. Side effects may also be experienced by some pets in the way of fatigue or becoming overly hyper. Some swelling and bruising also may occur after treatment and your pet should be watched closely for the next 24-48 hours to make sure symptoms do not worsen.

As you would with any family member, always do your homework and ask to speak with other pet owners who have had personal experience with acupuncture. Set aside time to speak with your vet, weigh all options and make sure to do your homework.




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    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 8 years ago from London

      An interesting article. I suppose if acupuncture works for (some) humans, why not animals?

      Christoph's comment made me chuckle as I was already thinking that maybe this hub should come with a warning; don't try this at home!

      Very interesting and well-researched.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 9 years ago from St. Louis

      I knew they had doggie dentistry and such, but had no idea that acupuncture was making its way into the veternary field. Hmmm, I think I'll practice on my cat with some straight pins.

      But seriously, I had no idea. Thanks for the info in a well-researched, well-written article.

    • Brainstormer profile image

      Brainstormer 9 years ago from Australia

      I hadn't considered acupuncture for family pets. Why not? Good read.

    • qlcoach profile image

      Gary Eby 9 years ago from Cave Junction, Oregon

      Yes, I believe in the powers of acupuncture too. As you know there are lots of ways to maintain that healthy balance between mind, body, and soul. Enjoyed reading your hub. Feel free to see how I try to help others in new ways too. Sincerely: Gary Eby, author and therapist.

    • summer10 profile image

      summer10 9 years ago from my happy place :)

      That would have been a more interesting take, hot dorkage... opening the lid wide open on some underground doggie acupuncturists... acupuncture for dogs runs about 60.00 a session where I live, so it is pricey, but I know people who swear by it for their pets... :)

    • hot dorkage profile image

      hot dorkage 9 years ago from Oregon, USA

      Rats I thought it was going to be how I could train my dog to accupuncture me with her fangs and save a bunch of money. Being as how I can't pay for acupuncture for myself, I doubt my dog will get any any time soon. but it is good to know that it works on them, that sort of blows it out of the water that it's all in our heads.