Acupuncture for Dogs:
Is it Right for Your Pooch?

Acupuncture for dogs is a form of

holistic healing for dogs used to treat a wide variety of canine health disorders.

acupuncture for dogs - acupuncture tools

Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been practiced for nearly 4,000 years.

Over the last few decades it has been increasing in popularity within the veterinary community.

What is Acupuncture for Dogs?

Like other holistic healing modalities such as homeopathy for dogs, flower essences and Reiki for dogs, acupuncture is a form of energetic healing.

Traditional Chine Medicine recognizes that there is a vital, living energy force, known as Qui (pronounced “chee”), that flows through the body. This energy is responsible for controlling the body’s harmony and maintaining balance between the body, mind and spirit. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, disease in an imbalance of this life energy.

This energy, or Qui, flows into, through, and out of the body via a complex network of pathways known as the meridians. There are 14 meridian pathways that carry energy to every organ and physiological system within the body. The meridians can be compared to the arteries. Just like arteries carry blood throughout the body, meridians transport energy. Maintaining proper energy flow within the meridians is essential to the health of our organs and systems, and to life itself.

How Acupuncture for Dogs Works

Although the meridians run deep within the body, they surface on the skin via hundreds of spots known as acupoints. There are at least 360 acupoints that have been identified.

Since these acupoints open up into the meridians, manipulating them can manipulate the body’s energy flow. In this way, deficiencies or excesses of energy can be corrected, restoring balance and harmony to the Qui.

The word “acupuncture” comes from the Latin “acus” (needle) and “punctura” (puncture). Just like in humans, acupuncture for dogs works by inserting tiny needles into specific acupuncture points to restore or redirect the flow of energy.

However, needles are not the only means to stimulate acupuncture points. Other methods include:

  • Electroacupuncture – a form of acupuncture in which the needles are attached to a device that generates continuous electrical pulses, enhancing the effect of the needles
  • Acupressure – using manual pressure on a point instead of a needle
  • Sonopuncture – stimulating the body by using high frequency sound waves instead of needles
  • Aquapuncture – injecting saline-diluted Vitamin B12 into an acupuncture point
  • Laserpuncture – stimulating the acupuncture points using a laser.

In addition, small gold beads, magnets or surgical staples can be implanted into acupuncture points to create permanent stimulation.

Conditions Treated with Acupuncture for Dogs

Acupuncture can be used to treat many types of dog illnesses and conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (muscle soreness, back pain, chronic arthritis, slipped disk, hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease)
  • Skin diseases and allergic dermatitis
  • Gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhea, vomiting, gastric ulcers, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Neurological disorders (seizure, epilepsy, spinal chord trauma, some types of paralysis)
  • Respiratory conditions (asthma, cough, upper respiratory infections, chronic bronchitis)
  • Pre- and post-operative pain management
  • Kidney disease
  • Urinary incontinence and retention
  • Behavioral issues
  • Chronic pain syndrome
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Geriatric weakness

In addition to treating disease, acupuncture is also used as a preventative measure to maintain the body in a state of balance.

If you would like to learn more about acupuncture for dogs or find a veterinary acupuncturist in your area, visit the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture.

The AAVA is an association comprised of veterinarians who practice acupuncture and is dedicated to promoting the art and science of veterinary acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Web site has a directory of veterinary acupuncturists by state and type of animal practice at You can also call them at 303-772-6726.

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