Acupuncture for Canines: The Beaming Benefits

Acupuncture for Canines: The Beaming Benefits

  • Kirsten Thornhill - 01.03.2021

Can Dogs Get Acupuncture?

Animal acupuncture may seem super far fetched, but in today’s article, we’ll get straight to the point of this soothing Chinese medicine method. We hope we can provide enough information for you paw parents so you can easily decide on whether or not acupuncture would be the right fit for your dog’s health and well-being. 

Chinese medicine surrounds the Daoist ideas and beliefs that your body (and pup’s body) are extensions of the universe, with any imbalances in energy causing disease. 

Being able to identify the disharmony in the body allows acupuncturists to help a person’s or feline’s or canine’s energy or “qi”. In Chinese medicine, animals and us humans have Meridian energy channels that can be the center of focus during acupuncture treatments. This channel is where the energy flows or the “qi” flows. 

What is Dog Acupuncture?

In a w”holistic” sense, acupuncture is a complementary treatment method in Chinese medicine in which thin needles are input into key points on the body’s surface to stimulate vessels, nerves, and tissues, without releasing blood. 

This is commonly practiced in us humans but has also formed as an approach to orthopedic pain and inflammation as part of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. 

While it may seem like a new holistic treatment approach offered to your dog or cat, Traditional Chinese Veterinarian Medicine has been using acupuncture to treat animals for thousands and thousands of years!



A licensed acupuncture practitioner, who has studied Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, performs the treatment on your pet. The needles are inserted into different acupuncture points, stimulating physiological processes through neural signaling. There are 14 energy channels and 360 acupoints on the body. 

Once the needles are inserted into the skin, they are rotated gently and slowly. Through the process of rotating the needles, the connective tissue under the skin becomes stimulated, creating a signaling pathway for the nervous system to respond. Most of the time, the response ignited in the nervous system brings forth anti-inflammatory actions. 

How Can Acupuncture Help?

Acupuncture may assist and help with various concerns. It is commonly used to bring relief to different areas as well as stimulating an appropriate response to the body’s signals to the brain. 

It can help ease signs and symptoms brought on by adverse effects of medications. For dogs or cats that no longer respond to pain or inflammation medication, an acupuncturist can step in to help!

This longtime healing practice can help canines with the following concerns:

  • Trauma
  • Metabolic disease relief
  • General pain management
  • Help regulate hormones
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Helps with GI disorders
  • Helps with skin condition relief
  • Neurological diseases
  • Musculoskeletal conditions
  • Allergy and asthma relief
  • Urinary concerns

What are the Benefits of Acupuncture?

Beyond the idea of using needles, acupuncture really is a non-invasive treatment approach. Dogs who receive acupuncture are usually calm and relaxed during the treatment. Some paw parents have their dogs naturally fall asleep while receiving their procedure. 



One of the best benefits of acupuncture treatments is that the tools used (aka the needles) are easy to transport, allowing for at-home appointments and visits. An at-home visit may be perfect for large, immobile, or timid dogs who are difficult to travel with or get anxiety in the car. In general, the calmer the dog is in a familiar space, the better the acupuncturist can do their healing job. 

What are the Types of Veterinary Acupuncture?

If you’re ready to dive into the holistic world of acupuncture for canines, you’re in the right place. 

First and foremost, if needle insertion is not meeting your goals you’d aimed for, you can choose other acupuncture methods. 

Depending on your acupuncturist, you can talk about the various treatment options and figure out what can work best for your dog. These methods may work similarly, as they target these energy channels in your pup’s body. 

1. Acupuncture

Aquapuncture involves the use of hypodermic needles, injecting fluid into the acupuncture points. These fluids can be homeopathic fluids, vitamin B-12, or even chondroprotective medications. These liquids target energy channels to initiate and trigger healing responses and reacitons. 

2. Moxibustion

Moxibustion uses mugwort, a flowery herb used commonly in Chinese medicine. Direct moxibustion requires a small amount of this spongy herb, placed on the desired acupuncture point and then burnt. Indirect moxibustion, on the other hand, makes use of a moxa stick, which is held closely to the acupuncture point, until the location reddens. This treatment can be used in combination with direct needle insertion. This may be an effective way to help with joint or muscle soreness and potentially arthritis pain. 

3. Acupressure

Acupressure is where the practitioner applies pressure to specific acupuncture points on the body. This technique is very similar to massage, but again, it targets a specific area. This method is preferred for pets who can’t stay still for long or remain calm during needling sessions. This may be a helpful avenue for the hard-to-reach spots on your dog’s energy channel. 

4. Laser 

Cold lasers can be used to target specific acupuncture points in laser vet acupuncture. It is also non-invasive and doesn’t necessarily break the skin, which helps minimize your dog’s chance of developing an infection or hot spot. 

Studies on humans have suggested that low-level lasers may help regenerate cells, decrease pain, reduce inflammation, and more. It’s painless and may be beneficial for pets with higher sensitivity to the needled approach. 

5. Electrostimulation

Electroacupuncture involves inserting fine acupuncture needles into the body. Once the dry needles are in their specified areas, electrical stimulation is attached. The electrodes that are attached transmit small pulses of electricity through each needle. The intensity and frequency of these electrical pulses can be completely controlled and personalized for your dog’s specific concerns. 

This stimulation is useful for its pain-reducing effects. It’s a quick method to help calm spasming muscles too. This awakens the nerves, sending messages to the brain more efficiently than traditional and stationary acupuncture. For dogs with severe nerve damage or pain, this can be a preferred method.

What are the Side Effects of Acupuncture for Dogs?

Acupuncture, as a holistic treatment option, is often preferred due to its lack of potential adverse effects, unlike traditional and conventional medications. 

Acupuncture does not interfere with other medications or supplements that may have been prescribed by your pup’s vet. 



Favorable side effects that have been noted are calmness and potential drowsiness. Among us humans, acupuncture may cause tingling or numbness in the limbs. Since animals can’t really communicate tingling or numbness to use, we aren’t sure if they experience similar effects. 

It’s also been suggested that animals may experience vomiting and nausea or these may even be suppressed by acupuncture treatment. 

How to Start Acupuncture for Dogs: 3 Steps

1. Talk to Your Vet

Once you’ve chosen to give this holistic treatment option a chance, you’ll need to talk with your pet’s vet. See if they believe acupuncture will help or assist in your pet’s health concerns or conditons. 

Since a combination treatment may be more favorable, your vet may have to share your dog’s diagnosis with the acupuncturist, so the numerous treatment can work synchronously with one another. 

Lab tests, medical results and diagnoses, radiographs, and other treatment results may need to be shared with the acupuncturist so that they are fully aware of your pet’s personalized health concerns. 

2. Find a Vet Acupuncturist

See if your vet offers acupuncture for your pet. If not, I’m sure they’d be able to refer you to somewhere that does. 

An acupuncturist who has been certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society can be trusted for their training and expertise. By checking out their website, you should be able to search for an acupuncturist, local to you. 


3. The Cost

Dog acupuncture treatments may cost anywhere from $65 - $120 per visit. 

Your dog’s health and size may affect the price, as well as the qualifications and location of your vet acupuncturist. 

Other costs can add up if your dog’s acupuncturist recommends additional treatments or supplements. 

Dog Acupuncture: Final Thoughts

Veterinarian acupuncture may not be an “end all be all” cure for your dog’s ailment or condition. Again, it is a complimentary and holistic treatment option that may work well alongside traditional Western Veterinarian Medicine. 

Chronic conditions can be effectively managed with a combination of treatments - age-old techniques and here and now medicines. Both health techniques may have their strengths aloe, but combining them may provide your pet with the best chance for optimal healing. 

Given the amazing and potential benefits of acupuncture for felines and canines, it’s no surprise that paw parents are exploring these alternative and holistic possible healing modalities. This may be the next best thing you didn’t know fido needed in their wellness plan. 

Until next time, continue to be a responsible paw parent and ask your vet questions and do your research! Your pup will be sure to thank you down the road.


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