Learn More About Acupuncture for Animals

Discover How Acupuncture Can Benefit Your Animal

Veterinary acupuncture top tips

What is veterinary acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a system of healing which has been practised in China and other Eastern countries for thousands of years. And has increasingly gained in popularity in western veterinary medicine over the past century. Acupuncture is just one approach of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). TCVM is holistic and works on the basis that there is inter-connectivity between all aspects of the body. Including to create balance between "Yin" and "Yang". A whole range of animals today benefit from acupuncture, from small pets to horses and farm animals.

Acupuncture is based upon the concept that the body has meridians, or energy lines, running along it. And when the body is out of balance, the energy lines are blocked or deficient in some way. The use of thin sterile needles at appropriate acupuncture points will rebalance or redirect this energy and balance the body.

The acupuncture points have been mapped over thousands of years by the Chinese. These have now even been identified with modern scientific techniques. Horses can selectively have substances such as vitamin B 12 actually injected into the acupuncture points to give a longer lasting effect. And this often makes things easier to handle than having to wait for ten or twenty minutes while the needles remain in place.

The ailment being treated will mean different acupuncture points are used depending on the animal and its needs. It works by the acupoint being stimulated through the application of the needle and this can help relieve pain and inflammation.

Why use veterinary acupuncture with your animal?

Whether you've a large or small animal, acupuncture can treat many different conditions. This includes:

  • Musculoskeletal problems, (back problems, arthritis, etc)
  • Tendon injuries or other muscle & ligament sprains/strains
  • Skin problems
  • Nervous system problems
  • Stress related disorders
  • Respiratory problems, (COPD in horses, feline asthma in cats)
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Neurological issues, including headshaking in horses
  • Some reproductive (fertility) problems
  • Post exercise recovery - e.g. after a horse or dog has competed.

Is veterinary acupuncture safe?

Yes.. but…..Acupuncture should always be administered by a professionally qualified Veterinary Surgeon who has also successfully completed additional veterinary acupuncture training. Your specialist Veterinary Surgeon can ensure proper oversight of your animal, as acupuncture is capable of masking pain or other clinical signs. And so it's critical that no delay is made to using other treatments ('conventional' or complementary) if required.

Also if your animal is feeling better from the acupuncture, he/ she may increase activity and delay healing or causing the original condition to worsen. So you must always follow your Vet's advice post-treatment.

There are usually minimal side effects, and it can be used in conjunction with other treatment modalities. This will all depend on what the ailment is that your animal has, as to whether any other medication or therapy is required in addition to the acupuncture.

Most veterinary surgeon's will use needles that are not reusable, and so are disposed of after each treatment to avoid possible contamination or spread of illness or disease.

Golden Retriever Dog Acupuncture Needles Ginger Kitten

Benefits of veterinary acupuncture

Some of the effects of acupuncture include:

  • Pain relief
  • A strong sense of well-being
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Increased blood flow to the area being treated.
  • Additional benefits can include longevity and this refers to an increase in both the quality and quantity of life.
  • Vets have noted that many older dogs who receive acupuncture have increased energy and it is a joy to watch them respond.
  • Acupuncture offers a viable alternative to the use of pain killers and steroids (or a reduction in the use of), as well as surgery and has few, if any side effects when used appropriately.

Additionally, regular acupuncture sessions can treat minor sports injuries as they occur. And help to keep muscles and tendons resistant to injury. World class professional and amateur athletes often use acupuncture as a routine part of their training as a preventative measure. If your horse or other animals are involved in any athletic activity, such as racing, jumping, or showing, acupuncture can be used to assist in helping to keep them in top physical condition. It's a natural way to help keep your animal healthy.

As with any medicine or treatment, it may be that you don't get instant results. This doesn't mean that acupuncture doesn't work, but just more sessions are required.

Choosing an animal acupuncturist

Only ever use a qualified veterinary surgeon who's completed specialist training to carry out acupuncture on your animal. This is because acupuncture in animals may only be performed by vets with a thorough knowledge of veterinary anatomy and physiology.

There are professional veterinary acupuncture associations your vet could be a member of. These include Association of British Veterinary Acupuncturists and International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. These mean your vet will have received proper training to help your horse, dog or other animal.

Find out more about veterinary acupuncture with these useful links

Would you like information on Veterinary Acupuncturists near you, for your animal? Please email me at info@taranet.co.uk - I'll be pleased to try and assist, wherever you are in the world!

You can get more information on many complementary therapies for animals here at Taranet. Take a look at the sitemap here for a list.

About The Author
This article has been extensively researched and written by Suzanne Harris. Who is also the designer and developer of this site. A lifelong animal lover with a passion for ensuring animals can access complementary therapies for their health and wellbeing.