Small Animal Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of therapy that has become quite mainstream as a valid therapy for humans, but what many people don’t realize is that it can also be very effective for your pet. This centuries-old technique may enhance traditional veterinary medicine and further benefit your furry friend.

Why Would a Small Pet Need Acupuncture?

Acupuncture helps to treat and alleviate several conditions, such as:

  • Arthritis and joint inflammation
  • Degenerative joint disease or hip dysplasia
  • Chronic back pain
  • Spinal cord conditions
  • Lick granulomas (areas on the leg where the pet continually bites or licks, causing severe irritation and lesions)
  • Helps to alleviate the side effects of cancer treatment (chemotherapy/radiation)

What can Acupuncture do for my Pet?

  • Some benefits to small animal acupuncture include:
  • Improved blood flow and increased oxygenation of tissues
  • Reduces the amount of waste products produced
  • Increases the amount of metabolic waste the body removes
  • Relieves pain locally by relaxing muscles at the pain point

The process of inserting needles at the pain point serves to stimulate the release of naturally-occurring anti-inflammatory chemicals, thereby decreasing the amount of pain and also the amount of pain medications your pet may need to take.

Acupuncture is not meant to be a complete replacement of other therapies, rather an enhancement of and in conjunction with other medical treatments. This is especially helpful when either method cannot provide the desired response on its own.

How successful the treatment is will depend upon the skill of the veterinarian, the condition being treated, and the frequency of acupuncture sessions. Just as in humans, every pet is different, and so should be closely monitored after the session to determine response to the treatment.

Will my Pet Experience any Pain during this Treatment?

Acupuncture treatments for small animals is fairly straightforward, and insertion of small needles into strategic pain points is virtually painless for them. Once the needles are in place, there is absolutely no pain – in fact, most small animals become very relaxed, and even exhibit sleepiness.

Having said that, acupuncture may cause some sensation, such as tingles, numbness or mild cramps shortly after the procedures. Humans often experience such sensations during and after acupuncture, and while our furry friends cannot explicitly tell us what they are feeling, tests indicate that they have much the same physical reactions as humans do. These sensations may, therefore, be a little uncomfortable for some animals. 

Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of alternate medicine available to small animals, as long as a certified veterinarian professional is performing the procedure. 

The American Veterinary Medical Association views small animal acupuncture as a viable modality within the overall practice of veterinary medicine.


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American Veterinary Medical Association World Small Animal Veterinary Association AAVMC