What to Know About Acupuncture for Pets

  • 3 Min Read

The last thing any pet owner wants is to see their furry best friend in pain. Unfortunately, animals can also deal with many of the same painful ailments humans face. After growing tired of being in pain themselves, many people have sought relief from alternative therapies. And luckily, many of these alternative practices are capable of helping our pets suffering from similar ailments. 

While working with a medical professional for animals is essential, the ancient Chinese medicinal practice of acupuncture has helped many humans and animals find relief from their pain and inflammation. 

Here’s what you need to know about acupuncture for dogs and cats. 

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture treatment is part of ancient Chinese medicine. The idea behind it is that ailments in the body result from an imbalance of energy. The treatment aims to restore the body’s energy and promote healing. 

Professionals trained in traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) insert tiny needles into specific areas of the animal’s body. The sites are along the meridians of the body or channels that transmit energy. 

Needle insertion in these points is meant to guide the energy in the body. It boosts blood circulation, which stimulates the release of healing hormones.

Benefits of Acupuncture for Pets

There are many key reasons to consider TCVM for animals. It can help alleviate discomfort associated with many health concerns, including hip dysplasia, cancer treatment side effects,  depression/mood disorders, chronic pain, degenerative joint disease, and more. Some of the most important benefits include the following:

  • Avoid the risk of allergic reactions to supplements or medications. 
  • Increase blood flow and blood circulation to facilitate metabolic waste removal. 
  • No worry about the risk of side effects on internal organs, like many medications include. 
  • Reduce pain and inflammation around the insertion area. 

Overall, this treatment option offers pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits. It can help pets manage several health concerns and live happier lives. 

Possible Side Effects of Dog Acupuncture

Compared to pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory substances, acupuncture has far fewer side effects. 

The most common side effects are some irritation at the insertion site. Some animals may bruise or be a little sore where the needles went in. Another common side effect is the animal appearing more tired or lethargic for a day or so after treatment. 

Aside from those minor side effects, acupuncture does not pose many risks. Allergic reaction is extremely rare, and it does not damage internal organs. 

Qualities to Look for in a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist

If your pet struggles with a chronic illness or pain, you may be considering acupuncture treatment. Of course, you don’t want to trust just anyone with their care! 


First and foremost, you want to select an acupuncturist who’s undergone the proper training and certification. Note that training in human acupuncture is not equivalent to pet acupuncture. A certified veterinary acupuncturist has an extensive understanding of animal anatomy and physiology. They should be able and willing to provide evidence of their training and certification from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, or Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine


Experience level is also a key criterion to consider when looking for pet acupuncture treatment. Since animals do not understand what is happening, they can be a bit more challenging to work with than humans. While years of experience may be helpful, the number of and types of pets the person has treated is a more critical factor. 

Compassion and Care

When entrusting your pet to another person, you want to be sure they will treat them with love and kindness. The acupuncturist should work well with animals with various temperaments and personalities. Seek out someone who truly cares about the animal’s well-being and knows how to handle them well. 

Is Acupuncture Right for My Pet?

Acupuncture can be an effective therapy to help animals in some situations. By improving blood flow and triggering endorphin release, it helps promote healing and pain relief. 

However, this alternative therapy is not right in every situation. For one, some pets may not be able to tolerate the treatment. Animals that are very fearful or prone to aggression may not be a good fit. Highly sensitive animals that don’t respond well to touch may not be suitable for this treatment. Furthermore, those with acute infections or certain ailments may not be a good fit either. 

While there are considerations, acupuncture for pets is still a viable option to consider, especially if your pet struggles with chronic ailments. Always be sure to thoroughly research any acupuncturist before bringing in your pet. With the help of personal recommendations, advice from a vet, and internet research, you can find quality providers in your area. 

For more helpful pet care advice and information, visit the Neighborhood section of the Astro Loyalty blog today! 

About The Author

Katherine Carbonaro Kat lives in a spooky house surrounded by farmland in Hillsborough, NC, and couldn't be happier! Her two beloved cats, MeNow and Mr. Bumbles were both bottle-fed and raised by her. Huxley, her faithful companion, is estimated to be around 16 years old but still enjoys his daily mile-long walks and occasional hikes, a testament to the power of proper nutrition. Long live Neighborhood Pet!