Animal acupuncture isn’t a new concept. According to Christian Nordqvist of, it has been practiced for thousands of years. It involves thin needles being poked through the skin at specific points on the body. Nordqvist explains, “According to traditional Chinese medical theory, acupuncture points are located on Meridians through which gi vital energy runs.”

Some veterinarians embrace acupunture
Although this would be the point when some veterinarians would roll their eyes, others do embrace the potential beneficial effects of acupuncture. Marilyn Maler (DVM, Dipl, ACVSMR), of writes, “The use of acupuncture in equine sports medicine is very common today…. Many practitioners, myself included, are fully integrative and use many modalities including traditional diagnostics and medicines as well as TCVM [Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine] to approach cases.” Even the American Veterinary Medical Association voted to admit the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture as a constituent allied veterinary organization, according to

Many of the veterinarians who practice acupuncture see it as a complement to western medicine, while others see it as a last resort. Very few doctors see it as a replacement for western medicine. It’s simply another treatment option, and not a viable way to treat a broken bone or kill a virus.

The benefits of acupuncture are often anecdotally observed in cases of chronic allergies, hip dysplasia, lameness and arthritis. Some say it cured their pets when nothing else could. Juju Chang and Cassy Arsenault, of ABC news, reported that multiple dogs treated for back pain with acupuncture showed remarkable improvement. Mark Rindler, guardian of one dachshund mentioned in the article even went so far as to say, “Acupuncture saved her life.”

Some veterinarians do not embrace acupunture
Other veterinarians say that acupuncture lacks adequate scientific data. Juju Chang of goes on to say in her article, “David Ramy helped shape the guidelines for alternative therapies for animal treatment plans for the American Veterinary Medical Association and said the root of the issue is ‘there is no consensus’ on if acupuncture has any effect on the animal's health.”

The data that’s available for acupuncture seems to suggest that it doesn’t do any harm, nor confirm that it is beneficial. So far few, if any studies have been able to demonstrate the good it does on a biological level.

Acupunture remains a contraverssial subject. In the end, how you treat your pet is a decision only you and your veterinarian can make, acupuncture is one option that’s steadily gaining popularity in the U.S. If it sounds like something you’d like to try, we suggest you do your research and seek veterinary advice.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.

Reviewed on: 
Monday, March 23, 2015