Acupuncture for Pets: What is it and how does it work?

Acupuncture for Pets: What is it and how does it work?

Wondering if acupuncture might be the right therapy for your pet? Here, our Mooresville vets discuss veterinary acupuncture—the process, its advantages, and conditions it may treat—so you can decide if it is the right treatment for your cat or dog.

What is acupuncture for pets?

Much like for humans, acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine intended to help treat and manage the symptoms of several illnesses and disorders. It should be performed by a veterinarian trained in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM).

TCVM, which can also include the use of other therapies, can be combined with conventional medical care, resulting in a more holistic, full-body approach. As a treatment, acupuncture is beneficial at all stages of life (from puppies and kittens to adult and senior pets) and for a range of conditions. It is considered a safe and effective therapy that can provide long-lasting relief from the pain or discomfort associated with injury and illness.

The Process

First determining the underlying reasons for any signs or symptoms is important as proper diagnosis can result in improved health and a quicker recovery. Depending on your pet's condition, your vet may recommend acupuncture as a therapeutic treatment.

The use of veterinary acupuncture is intended to help your pet's body heal itself by resetting the balance of energy throughout the body, known as "chi". This is done with a series of fine needles being inserted at specific points in the body where blood vessels and nerves convene. Endorphins, which are the body's natural pain-killers, are released, helping to relieve acute and chronic pain and discomfort.

The technique also stimulates the release of another chemical called serotonin, which can positively impact happiness, mood, and anxiety levels.

Other forms of TCVM can include acupressure, aquapuncture, laser energy, electrostimulation, and other alternative therapies.

Benefits of Veterinary Acupuncture

There are a variety of benefits of using TCVM for pets, the following are some of its advantages:

  • Stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body's natural pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory substances.
  • No negative side effects on internal organs, unlike some prescription medications.
  • There is no possibility of adverse interactions with other medications or supplements, making it a safe treatment for a range of illnesses and disorders.
  • The process of acupuncture creates elevated blood flow and increased oxygenation as well as improved metabolic and toxic waste removal.
  • The needle insertion site benefits from localized pain relief due to the relaxation of the muscles in that area.

Conditions That Can be Treated

A variety of illnesses and conditions can be treated and managed by the use of veterinary acupuncture. Conditions that involve inflammation or chronic pain tend to be especially responsive to this treatment type, but be sure to ask your veterinarian if acupuncture is the right option for your pet's illness.


Acupuncture helps stimulate blood flow and supports the immune system, which naturally improves the body's ability to heal. It can be used to help relieve the symptoms and side effects of both cancer and some cancer treatments, including pain relief and improved comfort.


Pain from arthritis can also be relieved with acupuncture due to the release of endorphins. This treatment may also reduce the need for other pain medications, lowering the chances of side effects or unwanted interactions between medication types.

Degenerative Joint Disease

Common in pets, joint disease can cause stiffness and pain with movement. Acupuncture can help to increase mobility while decreasing pain and tension, making movement easier for your cat or dog.

Metabolic Diseases

Acupuncture can help with metabolic disorders by regulating your pet's endocrine system, improving digestion, and relieving oxidative stress. The treatment also improves blood flow to the tissues which boosts oxygenation and the removal of toxins and metabolic waste.


If your pet has suffered from injury or trauma, such as an accident, fall, or fight, inflammation and pain may result. TCVM can be used to treat these symptoms and help your dog or cat recover from their injury.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat or dog is suffering from chronic pain, illness, or an injury, contact us for more information about veterinary acupuncture for your pet.

Acupuncture for pets in Mooresville

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