Would You Stick Needles in Your Dog?


Research studies show that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for many dog ailments. That's important to us at Petminded! We strive to provide information on science-based treatments and training methods and share guidance on making the best decisions for you and your dog.

So, what exactly is acupuncture? How does it differ for dogs? And, how do you decide whether it is right for your dog?

What is Acupuncture?

Sticking needles into your dog may sound like medieval torture. But, acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical practice of inserting needles into specific points in the body, typically to relieve pain. Some methods may include manipulation or electronic stimulation of the needles. For humans, in addition to pain relief, acupuncture has been used for treating PTSD, depression, sleep disorders, and infertility.

How Does it Work?

Neurobiological Mechanisms of Acupuncture for Some Common Illnesses: A Clinician's Perspective explains that disorders and diseases are believed to occur when “energy”(referred to as “Qi,” pronounced “Chi”) is not flowing normally. Acupuncturists identify specific acupuncture points on the body to correct this flow. Most commonly, needles are inserted into these points to stimulate flow but other methods can also do this, for example, lasers and electrocurrents. The needles are believed to restore balance of a natural energy called Qi, which, if blocked, may cause illness or pain.

How exactly acupuncture works physiologically is not entirely known. There is debate about acupuncture points, what is being stimulated, and why. Recent studies point to nerve stimulation and biochemical responses that decrease inflammation. Some hypotheses suggest that certain neurotransmitters or hormones are released to facilitate healing, that micro-injury stimulates the nervous system and inhibits pain processing.

How is Animal Acupuncture Different?

Treatment for animals using acupuncture has been around for thousands of years, dating back to its use for farm animals in China. The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, founded in 1974, continues to provide global standards and training opportunities. Similar to human medical regulations, animal acupuncture may only be practiced by a licensed veterinarian with an acupuncture certification.

It turns out that acupuncture is one of the most common alternative methods veterinary medicine has adopted to help your pet live a better life. Trained vets identify acupuncture points on your dog's body that, when stimulated, are thought to relieve pain and discomfort and possibly even speed up recovery.

Does it work?

While much more controlled studies are needed to confirm its effectiveness, a handful of research has suggested that it doesn’t hurt to try it! In dogs, acupuncture has been used together with conventional medicine to treat v diseases. For example:

  • Musculoskeletal (e.g. Hip dysplasia, Osteoarthritis)
  • Neurological (e.g. lameness, Intervertebral disk disease)
  • Dermatological (e.g. itchiness, skin allergies)

Like most cases, the results varied with individuals and the severity of their condition.  

Should I Consider Acupuncture for my Dog?

Deciding to use acupuncture as a regimen for your dog's ailments is a personal decision that should be made in consultation with your veterinarian. Some key points to remember:

- Acupuncture is low-risk and unlikely to cause additional harm.

- Acupuncture is not typically used alone but as a supplementary treatment.

- Effectiveness depends on the individual and their condition and, most likely other factors.

If your dog is in distress or pain, acupuncture may be worth considering. Make sure to seek treatment from trained, certified, and licensed practitioners.


Comparison of Conventional Medical Treatment toElectro-Acupuncture Combined with Chinese HerbalMedicine for the Treatment of Hind Limb Paresis andParalysis in Dogs and Cats: A Retrospective Study

Canine and Feline Patients Referred Exclusively for Acupuncture and Herbs: A Two-Year Retrospective Analysis

Effect of acupuncture on pain and quality of life in canine neurological and musculoskeletal diseases

Neurobiological Mechanisms of Acupuncture for Some Common Illnesses: A Clinician's Perspective

Dog Health
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