Acupuncture For Cats And Dogs


Acupuncture. It’s not just for us two-leggers anymore, or just for “hippies” or “New Age” people. Our four-legged friends are taking part in acupuncture also, and it is becoming more and more common.

Based on an ancient Chinese medical tradition, acupuncture is used to stimulate your body’s energy by inserting tiny needles into the skin along the meridian points. A dog has more than 150 acupuncture points on his body.

If you think acupuncture is just baloney, the American Veterinary Medical Association doesn’t think so. In 1998, the AVAM issued this guideline: “Veterinary acupuncture and acutherapy are considered an integral part of veterinary medicine. These techniques should be regarded as surgical and/or medical procedures under state veterinary practice acts.”(From Guidelines for Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine.)

What Can Acupuncture Do?

The American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture says that acupuncture can treat ailments ranging from hip dysplasia and chronic degenerative joint disease to respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurological, and urinary tract disorders.

Veterinarians in the United States have practiced acupuncture since the early 1970s. They say that more and more clients are asking for this procedure because pet owners want other treatments besides medication and surgery. Many veterinarians also say that it is becoming more accepted among the greater veterinary medical community.

Even Cats Get Acupuncture On TV

It is becoming so prevalent that I saw a cat experience acupuncture on TV (on the show Flipping Out, to be exact). In this case, the cat was a fan of it. He was hissing like crazy and trying to bite the woman that was trying to give him the treatment. She was able to put in a few needles while he was wriggling all over the table.

Amidst his apparent disdain for it, his owner said that he normally likes acupuncture and is fine during the sessions (I guess that day was just a “don’t touch me with a needle” day? I think every pet has that mood everyday.) He said that acupuncture helped with his cat’s congestion and overall made him feel better.

More Than Just For Cats And Dogs

Veterinarians most commonly use acupuncture on cats, dogs, cows and horses. They also can treat pets like birds, ferrets and rabbits.

Pet owners like Mary Morrison say that acupuncture has helped her pet. Her 16-year-old Border collie, Shadow, was diagnosed with kidney disease. She says that the acupuncture has not cured the disease or slowed down Shadow’s aging process, but it has helped alleviate his symptoms and discomfort. Morrison says that she is more interested in life and is more peppy than when she didn’t go through acupuncture.

Another acupuncture patient, Charlie, undergoes acupuncture to help with his allergies. Before his treatment, this dog was miserable and his skin was red and inflamed. His vet said that after his first session, he had improved by 90%. His owner says that he is now a happy and healthy dog due to his regular acupuncture sessions.

In general, it may take four to eight sessions to know if acupuncture therapy will be effective. Although a response could be seen even after the first treatment, and improvements often are noticed after the third. Treatments may last from 10 seconds to 30 minutes and may be recommended once or twice weekly.

On average, acupuncture sessions can cost about $60.

Risks With Acupuncture

According to Associated Content, about 10 percent of animals will not improve after acupuncture. Also this form of treatment should not be used on pregnant animals, animals using medication, and animals with high fevers. It also is not supposed to be used as an ailment for broken bones.

There also can be some side effects in pets that have acupuncture applied. Pets may experience excess energy or fatigue. They may have bruising or swelling at the needle insertion point. Sometimes symptoms may worsen for the first 24-48 hours after a treatment. Also on rare occasions, a needle can break in the skin. This may require surgery to be removed.

Although acupuncture has seemed to help many animals with their ailments and their pain, veterinarians do caution pet owners to not expect it to be a miracle cure; it is not a panacea.

Source: National Geographic, Associated Content, Santa Barbara Independent

9 Responses to “Acupuncture For Cats And Dogs”

  1. Lynne says:

    I’ve wanted to try acupuncture myself!

  2. Danielle says:

    My 10 yr old boxer goes for acupuncture every 6 weeks to treat the moderate arthritis in his back and knee. He doesn’t tolerate pain medication very well, plus I didn’t like the possible side effects, so we went the holistic route. He gets acupuncture and Chinese herbs (solitary hermit) and it definitely keeps him more active and energetic. He really enjoys going to “get his chi fixed”.

  3. mittens says:

    the house call vet i use for my difficult torbie does acupuncture, although ive never had it done on my cats. ive had it work quite well on me- repetitive motion injury to my wrist- so i dont see why it wouldnt work on a pet. i haven’t had a problem with my wrist since and that was almost 10 years ago.

  4. Rose says:

    My dear kitty friend had acupuncture treatments when alive after removal of an odd bone cancer in a mammary gland. I believe it prolonged her life and make her have that extra time with more enjoyment.
    After the 1st needle in the top of her head she would relax completely and the rest of the needles were placed in approximately 6 locations. She seemed to not even mind the car ride to the Acupuncture Vet once she realized it was the direction the car was going.
    Watching her treatments had encouraged me to seek acupuncture for myself of which I find to helpful.

  5. Myrtle says:

    I have a kitty who is 10 years old. She has arthritis in her knees, one knee kept popping out of the joint.. and it had gotten to the point she was limping a lot , she also had gained weight because of the lack of exercise due to the knee. She has been having acupuncture treatments, it has definitely helped her quality of life..She has lost about 2 lbs, slowly, although she is still limping, she is happier..she is not hiding under the bed or in the closet as much..Now,she gets on the couch with me and she would not do that before..I am a fan of acupuncture…My poor cat was miserable and now she is so much happier. I am thankful for the great vets I have for my cats.

  6. Janine says:

    There is also an alternative to acupuncture that is less invasive because it does not involve needles and can also be taught to pet owners as self-care, which is helpful for chronic conditions.

    It is called Jin Shin Jyutsu - it is a form of energy-based, light touch acupressure that like acupuncture can be used according to the principles of traditional chinese medicine, but which also adheres to the principles of the new scientifically proven field of Quantum Energy Medicine.

    Jin Shin Jyutsu works subtly in the body to restore the smooth flow of energy in the body, and unlike acupuncture has no contraindications for its use. It can be used to quickly reduce a high fever, enhance the performance of drugs in the body, neturalize nasty drug induced side effects, and speed the healing of broken bones by as much as 50%.

    It can also be used to treat cases of infertility, or to support a healthy pregnancy and easy delivery.

    I am a certified practitioner of Jin Shin Jyutsu, and also a certified self-help instructor. I have a professional practice in Toronto, On where I work with people, horses, dogs, cats and rabbits.

    You will find more information about Jin Shin Jyutsu on my websites: / /

  7. Lilly says:

    I read somewhere that acupuncture can activate a cancer that is in remission and should not be used on dogs with cancer or a history of cancer. I got acupuncture for my dog a few months ago at age 14. She had cancer of the mouth at age 7 and was cured by radiation. She is now 14 and I decided to do acupuncture. Less than 2 months later after the acupuncture, she now has another cancer. I believe the acupuncture caused the cancer to regrow and spread. I don’t know now how long she has–this is a danger I feel should be taken more seriously. I read of it in one place on the web so I dismissed it but the little voice inside feared that this would happen and it did but none of the vets who did the acupuncture would admit to this causing this sudden diagnosis of cancer. Also, a day after receiving acupuncture, my dog urinated all over a carpet. She typically holds it for about 16 hours but when the accident happened, she had only held it about 4 hours.
    Also after one treatment, she vomitted. I don’t believe in acupuncture and feel that it is NOT good for everyone but it is hard to find the “bad” on the web. If your dog had cancer and is doing well, DON”T get acupuncture. My dog was incredibly healthy until the acu activated and spread a cancer. Don’t get acupuncture.

  8. Cruz says:

    As a practicing vet and acupuncturist, I can say that the acupuncture did not CAUSE your dog’s cancer. 14 years old is over the normal life expectancy of a dog and with a history of cancer, it is not surprising to have another type of neoplasia appear later on in life due to an existing dysfunctional programing of cells.
    The acupuncture could have encouraged the kidneys to eliminate more toxins in the body, manifested as more urine production which lead your dog to have an accident but no dog should be forced to hold it’s urine for 16 hours anyway. We do recommend avoiding acupuncture to the area where cancer is known to be present or on a related meridian/channel, but there are an endless number of chemicals, drugs and products that have potential to cause cancer that each of us come into contact with every day. My advice is to be more realistic about the fact that old dogs get cancer and that acupuncture just like every other treatment has it’s own side effects some of which can be seemingly unpleasant. Unfortunately, Lilly, this is not a “Walgreens world”.

  9. Penny Wallace says:

    What is your answer for Great Danes with Wobblers Syndrome. I have two opinions one from a Neurologist that says my Dane will do well with a fusion surgery which is $3,000. However his acupunture that just started last Wednesday was so much he was down the next day completely. He went from walking to not walking and in the next day or two he was better however, he went to running across the yard and coming to the back yard to running around the yard to fall down coming up the stairs. I see he had more engery to do things but he seems more unbalance. What is better you go to the doctor and they say surgery and you go to another doctor they say acupuncture how do you make these decisions. You are given options and you are not a doctor so what do you do. If a Dane owner makes the wrong choose than that is the level the Dane has to deal with. How do you make that choose.

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