Veterinary Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient system of healing likely to have originated in Tibet or India but was developed extensively by the Chinese. It is one of the oldest therapies in the world and is essentially the stimulation of specific points on the surface of the body, either by using needles, laser or local pressure (acupressure). The Chinese recognise that these points have a direct relationship with some of the main internal organs and with the muscles, nerves, and skeleton.

The word acupuncture comes from the words ‘Acus’ for needle and ‘Punctura’ for puncture and involves the stimulation of specific points on the body with small hypodermic needles.

When is acupuncture recommended?

In the western world, acupuncture is used primarily when medications have been ineffective or are contraindicated. However, it can also be used as a complimentary therapy alongside main therapies.
It is important to note that acupuncture is rarely if ever, indicated as a sole form of therapy. It is used as an additional management tool in a number of conditions.

In small animal veterinary practice, acupuncture may be recommended by your vet for: (this is not an exhaustive list)

1. Musculoskeletal Problems

a. Osteoarthritis
b. Hip dysplasia
c. Intervertebral disc disease
d. Neck pain

2. Skin Problems

a. Lick granuloma
b. Sensory neurodermatitis

3. IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

4. Urinary Incontinence

The above list shows a number of conditions where there are reports of acupuncture causing a positive response, however, it is not guaranteed that a strong positive response will be seen.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture primarily works through the CNS (Central Nervous System) affecting muscles, hormone levels, and the cardiovascular system.
Acupuncture causes an increase in neurotransmitters and neurohormones in the body such as endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s ‘natural pain-killing’ hormones, helping relieve muscle spasms.
Acupuncture is also thought to work by creating a small stimulation to dampen pain elsewhere in the body.

Is it painful?

Most animals tolerate acupuncture well. Just like people, all animals are individuals, meaning they can react differently to acupuncture and may require a different acupuncture therapy to another animal with the same or similar condition. It is important to go with the individual animal’s pace.
There is occasionally a brief moment of sensitivity as the needle penetrates the skin. Once the needles are in place, most animals relax, regularly falling asleep during acupuncture sessions.

Is acupuncture safe?

When performed by a veterinary surgeon trained in acupuncture, the risks of acupuncture are very low. It is one of the safest therapies utilised in practice. Occasionally an animal’s condition may temporarily worsen before improving.

How often and how long?

Treatments can last between 10 and 30 minutes depending on the individual patient’s response and the condition being treated.

Patients often start with weekly acupuncture sessions for 3 weeks. A positive response to acupuncture can take up to 3 weeks and is first noticed anywhere between 4-6 weeks. However, sometimes owners will notice a response sooner in the course.

Sometimes owners will notice a calming, almost sleepy demeanor in their pet during and/or immediately after acupuncture. This has been reported in humans also and is a temporary effect.

* If you would like to discuss small animal veterinary acupuncture further please contact us at your usual branch: