Veterinary Acupuncture

What is Veterinary Acupuncture?

Veterinary acupuncture is a treatment that involves inserting fine, sterile, stainless steel needles into specific points of the body to induce a healing response. Acupuncture has been described in various cultures dating back thousands of years but is most widely associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Veterinary acupuncture has been a feature of TCM, mostly predominantly in horses for centuaries and is increasingly becoming more widely recognised in Western Veterinary Medicine as well.


The insertion of these needles has been demonstrated to be beneficial in a wide range of conditions. Acupuncture works by stimulating nerve endings in the regions of insertion to trigger both nervous and endocrine responses within the body. These responses have positive impacts on tissue healing, immune modulation and a reduction in chronic pain pathways. The effect a specific needle has is dependent on where it has been inserted, which is why a thorough knowledge of an animals anatomy and physiology is essential. This is the reason acupuncture is a protected procedure, meaning only veterinary surgeons, or veterinary nurses under direct supervision, are allowed to perform it on animals. 

Veterinary acupuncture can be used to treat all types of pain and has particular utility in the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal disorders. It however can also be used to treat various other conditions ranging from chronic skin disorders, to respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. Acupuncture is best used in combination with conventional Western Veterinary Medicine therapies. 

As with acupunture in humans, there is a proporition of our veterinary patients that will not respond to veterinary acupuncture therapy. 

Veterinary Acupuncture for Dogs

Typically veterinary acupuncture is utilised in chronic musculoskeletal conditions in dogs such as osteoarthritis, spinal disc disease, hip or elbow dysplasia and stifle (knee) disease). Acupuncture however has many other utilities. 

Examples of diseases that acupuncture may be beneficial with include: 

  • Skin problems including allergic skin disease, recurrent ear disease, lick graulomas. 
  • Chronic gastrointestinal disease
  • Palliative care
  • Respiratory problems
  • Pain Management
  • Urogenital disorders
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Behavioural problems

Veterinary Acupuncture for Cats

Every cat is an individual and as such not every cat will be on board for the idea of acupuncture. That said, many cats will tolerate acupuncture well. Conditions in cats that acupuncture may be beneficial for are very similar to those in dogs. Cats hide pain surprisingly well and as such chronic musculoskeletal disorders are hugely underdiagnosed in our feline population. .

Veterinary Acupuncture for Horses

Acupuncutre can be hugely beneficial in horses, especially those who are regularly competing. Minor injuries are commonplace in competitive horses and compensatory mechanisms can lead to more significant injuries developing. Regular assessment and therapy can help with prevention of serious injury, as well as aiding in the healing process after strenuous exercise. 

Acupuncture can also be used in other aspects of equine medicine including digestive problems, respiratory or gynaecological disease and behavioural issues. Examples of conditions that may be ameanable to acupuncture therapy in horses include:

  • Muscle soreness
  • Stiffness
  • Cold back
  • Shortness of stride
  • Unlevel gait
  • Irritability when grooming or tacking up
  • Arthritis
  • Sacroilliac discomfort.
  • Internal medical disorders such as respiratory, dermatological, or gynaecological disorders. 


    Acupuncture In Other Species

    Acupuncture techniques are not limited to the treatment of cats, dogs or horses. They can also be utilised in other animal species. If you have a query about whether veterinary acupuncture is suitable for your pet please reach out. If you would like more information about veterinary acupuncture please visit our acupuncture practice page