Pet Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into specific points in the body to stimulate healing.


Acupuncture for Pet Wellness

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into specific points in the body to stimulate healing. The desired response can be at the actual point, or at a site distant to the point. Additionally, acupuncture points can be stimulated by moxibustion (the burning of Artemisia plant leaves on or near the skin), pressure, electrical current, gold beads, injected air, injected saline, and lasers. These points have been carefully mapped over the ages to correspond to certain conditions and body organs. 

Acupuncture points used in animals generally correspond to the same location of points on a human’s body, but some points have been moved over the years based on the differences in how animals walk (four legs instead of two) and the fact that they do not use the thumb (dewclaw) as humans do.

Acupuncture is used to treat illness and pain as well as to improve overall health and quality of life. It is part of a system of medicine called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in people or Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) in animals. TCM and TCVM encompass acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Chinese food therapy, and a form of massage called Tui-na. There are practitioners who practice TCM/TCVM or a specific branch of it, and there are practitioners who combine TCM/TCVM with Western medicine to have an integrated approach.

According to TCM/TCVM, the body has energy called Qi (pronounced chee) that flows through channels in the body called meridians. Imbalances or blockages in the flow of Qi cause illness and pain. Acupuncture needles stimulate the flow of Qi to restore balance.

Western science has different explanations to explain why acupuncture works. Acupuncture points are placed in positions where they influence the vascular (blood) system, the lymphatic system, and the nervous system, causing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Insertion of needles stimulates the brain to release endogenous opioids called endorphins, a body chemical that relieves pain. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that naloxone, the medication used to reverse opioid overdose, also reverses the analgesia given by acupuncture.

Research and clinical trials are mounting to show not only how acupuncture works, but also the positive results achieved by using acupuncture to treat a variety of conditions. Acupuncture continues to gain acceptance as a proven medical treatment worldwide. The World Health Organization set forth standards for the practice of acupuncture in 2021.1 The National Institutes of Health published a consensus statement in 1997 citing a wide variety of medical conditions that are helped by acupuncture. 2

1. WHO Benchmarks for the Practice of Acupuncture
2. Acupuncture. NIH Consensus Statement Online

What Conditions Can Be Treated with Acupuncture?

Dr. Lori treats pets for a variety of conditions using acupuncture. Some of the most common cases she sees are:

  • Musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis
  • Neurological conditions such as intervertebral disk disease and epilepsy
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Behavioral issues such as anxiety and storm phobia
  • Aging issues such as chronic kidney disease and cancer
  • Urinary problems such as incontinence, chronic infections, and feline idiopathic cystitis

If it is not on the list, just ask!

Our Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) appointments also address Chinese herbal formulas. Special consultations can be scheduled for Chinese food therapy.