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What is Acupuncture, and how does it work?


Veterinary medical acupuncture is science-based. Acupuncture is the application of thin, sterile needles to specific points on the body near nerves and vessels, leading to improved comfort and function of specific muscles, organs, and nerves. Acupuncture accomplishes this through neuromodulation and enhancing blood flow. The needles used for acupuncture are so small that they usually cause no pain.

Acupuncture points are anatomic landmarks that contain nerve bundles, clusters of blood vessels, and increased numbers of white blood cells called mast cells. Mast cells release histamine and other chemicals, including the body's natural pain killers when stimulated by acupuncture. Acupuncture point stimulation leads to the activation of pathways affecting the brain and nerves.

Evidence-based benefits of acupuncture include :

​Pain relief- Acupuncture has been shown to stimulate the release of endogenous opioids (endorphins), pain-relieving substances that are similar to narcotics but produced naturally by the body.

  • Improved circulation- During acupuncture, central and peripheral changes can occur in the regulation of blood flow, including increased circulation to the skin, muscles, brain, and internal organs.

  • Reduced inflammation- Acupuncture may decrease pain-causing inflammation by stimulating the body's pituitary gland to release cortisol. Cortisol is a naturally occurring steroid substance that has anti-inflammatory properties. 

  • Nervous system stimulation- In addition to the direct activation of nerves at the site of insertion, acupuncture remotely modulates sensation within the central nervous system.

  • Relieved muscle spasms of endogenous opioids (endorphins),


All of these effects can help your pet live a longer, happier life.

What conditions can be treated by acupuncture in my dog or cat?


  • Recoveries following orthopedic or neurological surgery, such as ACL repair, spinal surgery, or fracture repair

  • Orthopedic injury including arthritis, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, knee injury, shoulder pain, tendonitis, and much more

  • Soft tissue injuries, such as a strain or sprain

  • Neurological disease including neck and/or back pain, spinal cord diseases, such as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), wobbler syndrome, degenerative myelopathy, or fibrocartilagnous emboli (FCE)

  • Arthritis, stiff joints, and muscle weakness, especially in geriatric or obese dogs that have trouble with mobility

  • Chronic diseases, such as kidney disease and inflammatory bowel disease

  • Anxiety, stress, and seizure disorders

  • Gastrointestinal disease-causing nausea, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and constipation.

  • Cancer


What conditions can be treated by acupuncture in my dog or cat?


Before treatment, a thorough examination is conducted that involves an in-depth history of environmental and emotional situations that may be affecting your pet's condition, as well as palpation of certain acupuncture points. Although acupuncture does not replace the use of traditional treatments, it does complement them.

Treatments typically last anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the condition treated. Pets are typically treated once weekly for four to six weeks, but this can vary based on the individual pet's response to the treatment.


Acupuncture is well tolerated by most patients. Most pets associate their acupuncture experience with increased comfort and relaxation and are visibly excited when they return for additional treatments.


The ideal frequency of acupuncture for your pet will be determined based on his or her specific needs. Following acute spinal cord injury or surgery, frequent treatments may be required. In cases of chronic pain or disease, weekly treatments can effectively manage pain long-term. The treatment schedule is tailored to your pet’s individual medical condition. Generally, the beneficial effects of acupuncture are most evident after two to three treatments.

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