What Is Acupuncture and How Does It Work?

Acupuncture is the practise of inserting fine, solid needles into the body for pain relief or, in some cases, to help the body deal with other diseases.

Acupuncture works through the nervous system. The needles block the pain messages and encourage the brain and central nervous system to produce more of the body’s natural painkillers. In conditions that are not painful, acupuncture may help to reset the body’s normal functioning.

What Conditions Are Treated with Acupuncture?

Pain is the most common reason treatment with acupuncture is considered. This pain can be associated with many conditions.

  • Arthritis
  • Muscle strains
  • Bony changes in the spine
  • Spinal disc deterioration
  • Some skin conditions
  • Post-op recovery after orthopaedic surgery


Constipation in cats and irritable bowel in dogs may also respond well to acupuncture.

Will Acupuncture Hurt My Pet?

Acupuncture is usually painless; even if your pet reacts a little to the insertion of the needle they will normally relax afterwards. Many become relaxed and sleepy during or after an acupuncture treatment.

It is very uncommon to have to sedate an animal for acupuncture.

acupuncture for animals

How Often Will My Pet Need to be Treated?

The usual course is once a week for four weeks, followed by repeat sessions as necessary.

Depending on the condition and how they have responded, we will work out a plan that usually involves tailing off the treatment so that the effect is maintained for as long as possible.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

Acupuncture is very safe, in the right hands. Legally it must be performed by a veterinary surgeon. There have been no official reports of problems in animals, but there are some in humans and these can usually be avoided with care and a good knowledge of anatomy.

There are a very few cases in which we would have to be very cautious about using acupuncture, but your veterinary acupuncturist can advise you of these.