Veterinary Acupuncture – effective or unusual pet torture?

Jack relaxing at home during his acupuncture treatment
I am a qualified veterinary acupuncturist and I LOVE IT! I use acupuncture to complement Western Medicine particularly as a way of improving the quality of life of my geriatric patients that may have run out of options when it comes to Western Medicine. It can be used to treat many conditions with the most common being to aid in the relief of arthritic pain. I have treated patients from Rodney the extreme Guinea Pig up to a 76kg St Bernard.

Acupuncture has been used for approximately 4500 years in animals, making it one of the oldest systems of medicine still used today. It involves the insertion of needles into specific points in the body to achieve therapy and balance. It is based on a holistic concept of diagnosis and treatment and utilises the body's own ability to repair itself.

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Acupuncture is not for all pets, like people, some respond better than others and some pets simply do not tolerate the treatment. Most however are so relaxed they sleep through the treatment and leave feeling relaxed and more comfortable.

For me, acupuncture is about improving the quality of life of my patients. Many of the pets who come in for acupuncture have an assortment of conditions, some of which limit their ability to safely take pain relief for arthritis or other painful conditions, this is where acupuncture can greatly improve their quality of life. It provides a safe pain relief option. It can also reduce recovery times after major surgery (e.g. knee reconstruction) and can be used to help cats who are experiencing lower urinary tract disease.

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These are just a few of the more common conditions that acupuncture can be used for, however it can also be used to reduce nausea, increase appetite, improve some neurological conditions, assist in the treatment of some heart conditions, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disease, skin conditions and ear and nose conditions. This is by no means an exhaustive list of conditions acupuncture can help to treat.

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Acupuncture should not hurt your pet, acupuncture needles have round ends, not cutting ends, so they separate the skin and muscles. Some animals will feel some heat or pressure when the needle is inserted through the skin. Once the needle is through the skin the animal generally does not react.

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The number of treatments required varies depending on the nature of the condition. Acute problems generally require fewer treatments than chronic conditions. Each treatment takes approximately 30 minutes. For painful conditions such as arthritis, the initial treatment frequency is weekly which then reduces to monthly or even three monthly.

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For more information on veterinary acupuncture you can visit

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2 Responses

  1. […] For more information about acupuncture why not read my previous blog post here. […]

  2. It is an interesting topic. Very few cat owners know about acupuncture. I first learned about it from our reader who submitted a story about her cat and she took an interview for us with a vet doctor about the procedure. That was an interesting learning! After that another vet doctor shared a story of how they use acupuncture for a special needs cat. So reading more and more about this, you get more comfortable with the topic. It’s great when information on “uncommon” topics can be shared with cat owners as a “home reading”, as not everyone come across this treatment in their pet’s life.
    Thanks for sharing! xox

    • Dr Belinda Parsons

      Cats respond amazingly well to acupuncture. In my experience most of them become so relaxed they sleep through the treatment – I must admit I’ve also experienced this intense relaxation that comes with acupuncture. When I was pregnant I was having regular acupuncture & it used to make me so relaxed I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
      I’m glad that it is becoming more and more mainstream. It’s not for all pets but there are plenty that benefit greatly from treatment.
      Thanks for dropping by!

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