Veterinary Acupuncture

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Veterinary acupuncture is a popular natural therapy for animals that is also used to treat many different conditions. Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that believes that the body’s vital energy, or Qi force, flows throughout the body in channels. Blockage of these channels leads to the symptoms of disease. Stimulating specific points in the body unblocks the channels, allowing the energy to flow again.

There are many ways to stimulate acupuncture points. The one most people are familiar with is the acupuncture needle, which is inserted into the skin. However, an acupuncturist may also use acupressure, laser energy, or moxa – burning a herb stick and applying it to a needle inserted into the skin. The heat travels along the needle and stimulates the acupuncture point.

There are many conditions in animals that may be helped by acupuncture. The immune system can be strengthened, neurological and musculoskeletal injuries particularly respond well, and gastrointestinal upsets can be eased. It can help treat both chronic and sudden illness and injury, and it is thought to be very effective for pain relief.

How does acupuncture work? There are several theories. Some followers believe that the needles help release endorphins and other hormones, and others believe that they relieve muscle spasms. The needles may cause little areas of inflammation in the area, which encourages the body’s healing response.

Most animal species tolerate acupuncture very well, and don’t seem to be troubled by the needles. A prescription for acupuncture treatment is based on a Chinese Medical Diagnosis, rather than a conventional diagnosis. This involves a full examination, as well as taking a Chinese medical history. When a history is taken, it involves more than the illness that you are there for. Your vet will ask questions such as if your pet prefers hot or cold water, if they drink enough, the health of their skin and coat, and several other things. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are often more than one cause of a particular disease, so treatment can vary from animal to animal.

Before having acupuncture done on your animal, be certain that the veterinarian is using clean needles, since these do puncture the skin, and may spread disease. The likelihood of this happening is minimal, since most veterinarians use disposable acupuncture needles. Many people rely on acupuncture as a sole treatment for their pet’s medical conditions, but it works well in conjunction with conventional treatments.

Here at Riverwoods Pet Hospital we offer Integrative Veterinary Healthcare options that combine TCM with Conventional Western treatments. Traditional Chinese therapies such as Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Aquapressure, Acupressure, Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy have been proven effective on birds, dogs, cats, exotics and horses and we are excited to be able to offer these services. You can learn more about our natural therapeutic services and Traditional Chinese Medicine by CLICKING HERE.


  1. I’ve heard a lot about the benefits of acupuncture on people. I didn’t know that you could have the same thing done for dogs! Acupuncture can help release endorphins and help reduce muscle spasms, so it would be perfect for a pet! I might have to give it a try. Thank you very much for sharing this!

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