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Can acupuncture help my pet feel better?

Acupuncture has been used to address pain and other issues affecting people for centuries. In more recent years, it has also become a common therapy for treating cats and dogs. Here, our Nashua vets discuss the benefits of acupuncture for pets, what it can be used to help treat and what to expect during an appointment.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM): The Use of Acupuncture

Medical practitioners in China have been using acupuncture to relieve pain and treat a host of illnesses in people. Now veterinarians are receiving training in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM) too and offering this therapy to our animal companions as well.

Acupuncture for pets is performed by a trained TCVM veterinary professional and aims to treat and manage the symptoms of illnesses and disorders by inserting ultra-thin needles into specific points on the body where nerves and blood vessels intersect.

TCVM, which also includes other therapies beyond acupuncture, may be used in combination with conventional veterinary care to provide a more holistic, full-body approach to treating health problems in our beloved pets.

Animals at any stage of life from puppies and kittens to adult and senior pets can undergo acupuncture treatment for a range of health conditions. These treatments are considered to be a safe and effective therapy that may provide relief from the pain or discomfort associated with injury and illness.

What to Expect During Veterinary Acupuncture

Your vet will first need to determine the symptoms that your pet is experiencing to help diagnose their condition. Once the cause of the symptoms is known, treatment can begin to focus on the specific issue.

Veterinary acupuncture aims to help your pet's body heal itself by resetting the balance of energy throughout the body, known as 'chi'. This is done by inserting a series of fine needles into the animal's body at specific points where blood vessels and nerves intersect. Although the process is virtually painless, endorphins, which are the body's natural pain-killers, are released. This process helps to relieve your animal's acute and chronic pain or discomfort.

It is also believed that the acupuncture process stimulates the release of serotonin which can help to reduce anxiety levels and generate feelings of contentment and happiness.

In addition to acupuncture, TCVM can include other treatments like acupressure, laser energy, electrostimulation, and more

The Benefits of Acupuncture for Pets

Veterinary acupuncture and other traditional Chinese treatments are believed to produce several health benefits while avoiding the negative side effects that can be brought on by some conventional medications and treatments. Benefits of veterinary acupuncture for pets include:

  • Stimulating the release of endorphins, which are the body's natural pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory substances.
  • No negative side effects on internal organs, as can occur with some prescription medications.
  • There are no adverse interactions with other medications or supplements, making acupuncture a safe treatment for animals undergoing conventional treatments.
  • Acupuncture treatments are believed to create elevated blood flow and increased oxygenation as well as improved metabolic and toxic waste removal.
  • Localized pain relief may be achieved at the site of needle insertion due to the relaxation of the muscles in that area.

Conditions in Pets That Can be Treated With Acupuncture

As with acupuncture for people, a variety of illnesses and conditions in pets can be treated and managed through the use of veterinary acupuncture. Health conditions that involve inflammation or chronic pain tend to be especially responsive to this type of treatment. Some of the conditions treated by acupuncture include:

Metabolic Diseases

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


The pain and discomfort from arthritis may also be relieved with acupuncture for pets due to the release of endorphins. In some cases, acupuncture treatment may reduce the need for conventional pain medications. Acupuncture can also used to relieve pain in pets who are unable to tolerate conventional pain medications.

Degenerative Joint Disease

Joint disease is common in pets and can seriously impact your pet's quality of life. Acupuncture aims to decrease the pain and tension associated with joint issues, making movement easier for your cat or dog.


The aim of acupuncture as a cancer treatment for pets is to stimulate blood flow and support the immune system, helping to naturally improve the body's ability to heal. Veterinary acupuncture treatment can be used to help relieve the side effects of conventional cancer treatments as well as treat the cancer itself. 


If your pet has experienced an injury or trauma, such as an accident, fall, or fight, inflammation and pain may result. Acupuncture and other traditional Chinese veterinary medicines can be used to treat these symptoms and help your pet recover and return to good health.

Pet Acupuncture: Cost

Several factors can contribute to the cost of acupuncture for pets, such as the location, the experience of the veterinary acupuncturist or TCVM specialist, and the condition being treated. To get an accurate estimate of the cost of acupuncture treatments for your pet speak to the staff at your veterinary clinic. Your vet can discuss the estimated cost with you ahead of the appointment.

While not common, some pet insurance plans may cover the cost of veterinary acupuncture. Refer to your policy for more information.

Acupuncture is often used as a complementary treatment alongside traditional veterinary care, and pet owners should consult with their veterinarian to determine if acupuncture is a suitable option for their furry family member.

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.

Would you like to learn more about veterinary acupuncture or schedule an appointment for your pet? Contact our team at Animal Hospital of Nashua today.

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