Acupuncture For Pets: Prickly Placebo Or Productive Procedure?

When ‘acupuncture’ comes to mind, visions of needles may not only dance through your head, they might also make you wince at the idea of being pricked, poked and probed. The idea is sort of like the anticipation that builds just before a visit to the dentist.

That's our perception. What about whether or not its actually effective — and if it's questionable for humans, could it ever be helpful for our pets?

What is it?

Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into the part of the body tissue where nerve bundles and blood vessels intersect. These collections of nervous and vascular tissue are termed acupuncture points. They traverse the body’s surface on meridians (energy channels). These vessels permit a cycle of energy to connect with specific parts of the body — most importantly, those areas, which are causing discomfort and pain.

Viable for Pets?

Figuring out whether this type of medicine is therapeutically viable is a challenge. For starters, it’s mystical references are suspect. Mentions of “Qi [chi]” or “energy flow” can turn off patients who are looking for medical solutions, not what some perceive as ephemeral spiritual ones. Others dismiss the practice based on the placebo effect, or a belief that becomes so strong, patients convince themselves it is working.

However, pets can’t be affected by these cerebral interpretations. Medical procedures with our dogs and cats is physical, not mental. They either feel better because something is or is not working. You can’t trick them into thinking otherwise.

Trained in Eastern Medicine

For pet owners interested in exploring the benefits of acupuncture for their pets, it’s advisable to seek out a veterinarian who’s been trained in traditional eastern medicine.

TCVM [traditional Chinese veterinary medicine] includes acupuncture, acupressure, Chinese herbs, and food energy therapy. It can be integrated into western (conventional) treatments as there are aspects of both that can work synergistically. By integrating western and TCVM approaches, a veterinarian can achieve a more thorough evaluation of a pet’s entire body. In so doing, they will be able to come up with a comprehensive solution for treatment.

The cumulative effects of illness happens over time. Acupuncture should never be considered a quick fix. A report in indicates just reverse. These types of treatments needs to be used as preventative.

Determining and resolving the source of illness is a central tenet of the TCVM approach. It can reduce the cumulative effect of chronic illness with pets treated regularly. Since most pets’ health problems are diagnosed once illness has become very advanced, it’s vital to strive to prevent disease from occurring at the onset.

What Can Veterinary Acupuncture Do for My Dog or Cat?

  • Veterinary acupuncture stimulates the release of the body’s own pain relieving and anti-inflammatory substances.
  • Relaxation of muscles at the site of needle insertion and more distant locations body is achieved with veterinary acupuncture treatment, creating both a local and generalized pain relieving effect.
  • Veterinary acupuncture improves tissue blood flow, oxygenation, and removal of metabolic wastes and toxins.
  • Unlike prescription and over the counter pain medications, veterinary acupuncture lacks potential adverse side effects for your pet’s internal organs.
  • Your pet’s medications or supplements will not adversely interact with veterinary acupuncture treatment; therefore it can safely be used to treat a variety of illnesses.



The pricing of acupuncture therapy according to starts as low as $60 per session ranging up to $300. Costs are typically influenced by factors such as the personality of your pet and the nature of their condition as well as the likelihood that they will derive a benefit from the treatment.

So are you convinced to give acupuncture a go? Report back and let us know how it goes? It's been said "a stitch in time saves nine.” Might that also apply to a “prick”?

Acupuncture for pets