When your pet is suffering, it’s natural to want the “quick fix.” Sometimes, that’s entirely possible – and we use surgical treatment, therapy and/or medications for immediate results.
However, certain medical conditions such as arthritis or those that cause an animal chronic pain and suffering – are not that easy to eliminate in a single dose. In these cases, your veterinarian may recommend acupuncture for pets.

Is acupuncture for pets a “real” thing?

This “prescription” may come as a surprise, particularly for human clients who have never had acupuncture themselves. Fortunately, acupuncture for pets is a “real” thing, and has been successfully utilized for thousands of years. Chinese and other eastern-rooted medical practitioners integrate acupuncture plans for pets to support blood flow and oxygenation, boost the immune system, relieve pain and to reduce stress and anxiety. The benefits of acupuncture are universally experienced by people and animals including cats, dogs and horses.
You don’t have to take our word for it; here are four interesting and truthful (evidence-based facts) about acupuncture for pets.

1. Acupuncture is often the safest form of treatment

Acupuncture for Pets
Ever read the list of side-effects and potential complications associated with your pet’s prescription medication(s)? It can be alarming, because the same chemicals that work to suppress symptoms, relieve pain or treat particular conditions or diseases in prescription medications are often associated with the risk of long-term, adverse effects that may be equally or more harmful than the existing condition.
On the flip side, there are very few, if any negative side effects associated with acupuncture for pets. Many pets are sleepy or relaxed for 24 hours after acupuncture.  The few negative effects that have been cited – exacerbated pain, masking of other health conditions, and over-acupuncturing are mostly associated with an inexperienced or untrained acupuncturist.
In order to ensure acupuncture is the safest form of treatment for your pet, visit a licensed veterinarian who has formal training in administering acupuncture for animals. Ideally, they will have a certification of some kind from an accredited university or organization.  At Wise and Wonderful Integrative Veterinary Center, Dr. Martin received her training and accreditation from the Chi Institute, a top center for training veterinary acupuncturists in the US.

2. It’s considered an approved healing modality (method of treatment) for pets

Due to the plethora of evidence based on research and the professional reports by veterinarians around the world acupuncture is an approved healing modality by the American Veterinary Medical Association. It’s not easy to get newer, non-traditional forms of medicine approved by established organizations such as the AVMA, so their stamp of approval is taken very seriously by industry professionals.
That being said, the AVMA also believes that veterinarians should be certified by accredited agencies and ample experience and training before they are considered competent to administer acupuncture for pets and/or integrate Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. Make sure your veterinarian proves his/her acupuncture acumen before moving forward with treatment.

3. Acupuncture for pets has proven itself in multiple research studies

Rather than point you to individual studies we recommend reviewing this systematic review of the, Clinical Efficacy of Acupuncture on Rheumatoid Arthritis, which includes studies done on pets. The review encompasses dozens of studies that were conducted over multiple decades and the findings are unarguably supportive.
Most notably, acupuncture for pets is effective at:

  • Boosting immune system response
  • Pain relief
  • Improving mobility/alleviating stiffness
  • Increasing blood flow to promote healing
  • Relaxation of muscle groups

While these particular studies focused on arthritis, the same benefits can be applied to a range of medical conditions. The use of acupuncture definitely contributes to the overall health and well-being of your pet.

4. Acupuncture can be used alongside traditional treatments

Unlike medications, which can have contraindications when mixed-and-matched, acupuncture for pets can be used in conjunction with other treatment options without compromising your pet’s health.
In fact, many of our clients find that adding acupuncture to the treatment toolbox means their pet is able to reduce its dosage or frequency of prescription medications. In addition to acupuncture, we find that adding Chinese herbs and nutritional therapy to our patients’ treatment plans reduces their need to be dependent on medications or more invasive treatments associated with long-term detriments.
Are you interested in learning more about acupuncture for pets and how it can benefit your beloved canine, feline or equine companions? Schedule a consultation with us here at Wise and Wonderful Integrative Veterinary Center.  Dr. Martin is certified in acupuncture and traditional Chinese Medicine for animals, and we’re dedicated to preventing and treating diseases as gently and compassionately as possible, using the best of what western and eastern medicine has to offer.