Acupuncture for Pets

At RehabVet, we embrace a holistic approach to your pet’s health and wellbeing. One such treatment we offer is veterinary acupuncture for dogs and cats. This is an ancient practice with modern applications, providing natural relief for a range of conditions.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on your pet’s body, stimulating natural healing processes. It’s rooted in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine and is based on promoting balance and harmony within the body. It’s been scientifically proven to release endorphins, enhance blood circulation, stimulate nerves, and boost the immune system.

We commonly utilise acupuncture to help with chronic conditions like arthritis and hip dysplasia, as well as acute issues such as trauma and injuries. It can even assist in managing conditions like gastrointestinal disorders and anxiety.

The acupuncture treatment process at RehabVet is performed by our experienced veterinarians, trained specifically in veterinary acupuncture. They ensure each session is tailored to your pet’s specific needs and comfort levels. Above all, we prioritise your pet’s welfare, ensuring that acupuncture, like all our treatments, is a calm, soothing, and beneficial experience for your beloved pet.

A picture of a Chinese veterinarian using Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine to treat a pet alongside Western medicine
Dog getting acupuncture treatment


  • Pain Relief: Acupuncture helps to release endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals, and cortisol, a natural anti-inflammatory steroid.
  • Stress Reduction: Just like humans, pets can feel stressed, too. Acupuncture can help them to relax, improving their overall well-being.
  • Neurological Improvement: It can aid in managing neurological issues by stimulating nerve activity.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: Acupuncture can reduce inflammation, making it beneficial for conditions like arthritis and skin allergies.
  • Enhanced Circulation: It can improve blood flow to specific areas of the body, which aids in healing and the removal of toxins.
  • Boosts Immunity: Acupuncture can enhance the immune system, making it more effective in fighting off illnesses.
  • Digestive Health: It can help improve the digestive process, alleviating issues like diarrhea or constipation.
  • Improved Quality of Life: Especially for pets with chronic conditions, acupuncture can enhance their overall quality of life by reducing pain and improving functionality.
  • Supports Cancer Treatments: While it doesn’t cure cancer, acupuncture can help manage the side effects of other treatments such as chemotherapy.

Types of Conditions

  • Arthritis and joint conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Chronic pain management
  • Neurological disorders, such as intervertebral disc disease
  • Post-surgical recovery and pain control
  • Skin conditions, including allergies and hot spots
  • Respiratory conditions, like asthma
  • Digestive problems, such as diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Urinary conditions, including feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD)
  • Behavioural issues and anxiety
  • Aging-related decline and weakness
  • Immune-mediated diseases
  • Liver and kidney diseases
  • Endocrine disorders, like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease
  • Cancer supportive care
  • Rehabilitation after injury
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Certain fertility issues
  • Certain eye conditions, such as dry eye and uveitis
  • Non-healing wounds.

It’s crucial to consult with a trained veterinary professional to determine if acupuncture is a suitable treatment option for your pet’s specific health condition.

cat receiving acupuncture treatment at RehabVet

Is acupuncture effective for treating chronic conditions in pets?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body to stimulate healing and relieve pain. The needles are typically left in place for 10-30 minutes, and the treatment may be repeated several times over a period of weeks or months.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence to support the use of acupuncture in veterinary medicine. Studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in treating a wide range of chronic conditions in pets, including osteoarthritis, intervertebral disc disease, and chronic pain.

One of the key benefits of acupuncture is that it is a drug-free therapy, which means that it can be used in conjunction with other treatments without the risk of drug interactions or side effects. This makes acupuncture a particularly attractive option for pets that are unable to tolerate conventional medications or that have conditions that are difficult to manage with drugs alone.

Acupuncture can also be used to promote overall wellness and prevent illness in pets. By stimulating the body’s natural healing processes, acupuncture can help to boost the immune system, improve circulation, and reduce stress.

Is acupuncture painful for pets?​

Acupuncture is generally not painful for pets. The needles used for acupuncture are much smaller than the ones used for injections, and they are inserted into specific points on the body that have a lower density of nerve endings. This means that most pets barely notice the needles going in. In fact, many pets find acupuncture to be quite relaxing, and some even fall asleep during the treatment.

That being said, it is important to note that every pet is different, and some may be more sensitive than others. In rare cases, a pet may experience some discomfort during acupuncture treatment, especially if they are already in pain or have sensitive skin. However, any discomfort is usually mild and short-lived.

It is also worth noting that a skilled and experienced acupuncturist will take great care to ensure that your pet is comfortable throughout the treatment. They will use the minimum number of needles necessary and adjust the depth and placement of the needles as needed to minimize any discomfort.

A close-up of a small animal receiving acupuncture treatment to help with anxiety and stress.

Frequently Asked Questions on Acupuncture for Pet

Acupuncture indeed works for many dogs. This ancient therapy has proven to be beneficial in treating various conditions, such as pain, arthritis, neurological disorders, and digestive issues. However, every dog responds differently, and the effectiveness depends on the individual dog's health status and the nature of the condition.

The effect of acupuncture can vary greatly. Some dogs may show improvements immediately after the first session, while others may need a few sessions before noticeable changes occur. The overall health condition, age, and the nature of the problem also contribute to how quickly a dog will respond.

The success rate of acupuncture in dogs is subjective and depends on the condition being treated and the individual dog's health. However, many studies and anecdotal evidence show a high rate of success, particularly in treating conditions like arthritis and other pain-related issues.

Yes, acupuncture can be beneficial for cats. Just like dogs, cats can benefit from this form of treatment for a range of conditions, including arthritis, neurological disorders, and gastrointestinal problems. Always consult with a trained veterinary professional to understand if it's suitable for your cat.

Acupuncture is generally considered safe. Some pets may experience temporary side effects such as mild discomfort during needle insertion or lethargy after treatment. In rare cases, there can be minor bruising or bleeding at the needle sites. Always ensure that acupuncture is performed by a trained professional.

After acupuncture, cats may appear more relaxed and sleepy. This is a normal response to the treatment. Some cats might also show immediate improvements in their symptoms, while others might require multiple sessions to see noticeable changes.

Acupuncture can provide several benefits for cats. It can alleviate chronic pain, aid in managing arthritis and gastrointestinal problems, and improve overall wellbeing. Acupuncture can also stimulate the immune system, enhancing the cat's ability to fight off diseases.

The response time to acupuncture in cats varies. Some cats might show improvements shortly after the first treatment, while others might require several sessions to see significant changes. It largely depends on the individual cat's health status and the condition being treated.

Acupuncture benefits pets by promoting pain relief, enhancing circulation, aiding in digestion, reducing inflammation, and boosting overall wellness. It can help manage chronic conditions, assist recovery post-surgery, and maintain general health.

Yes, animals often feel relaxed and sleepy after an acupuncture session. This is a sign that the treatment is working and that the body is healing.

Rest after acupuncture is often beneficial. The therapy can induce a state of deep relaxation, making your pet feel drowsy. Allowing them to rest can enhance the therapeutic effect of the treatment.

Acupuncture is healing because it works with the body's natural healing processes. It stimulates specific points on the body to promote blood flow, reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and stimulate the immune system.

You'll know acupuncture is working when you observe improvements in your pet's condition or symptoms. This can include increased mobility, improved appetite, better sleep, and overall increased vitality.

While acupuncture can be a powerful healing tool, it's not a cure-all. It's most effective when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may include medications, physical therapy, and dietary changes.

The benefits of acupuncture can vary. Some pets may experience immediate relief, which lasts for a few days, while others may need several sessions before noticeable changes occur. For chronic conditions, regular treatments may be needed to maintain benefits.

Most patients participating in aquatic therapy are already out of shape and swimming in a pool or lake requires more cardiovascular strength and endurance than is available.

Swimming in a hydrotherapy pool may be effective for some conditions, but again several factors are unable to be controlled during a free swim.

After acupuncture, avoid strenuous activity for your pet. Ensure they have a quiet and comfortable space to rest. Also, maintain regular feeding and hydration for your pet post-treatment.

The frequency of acupuncture sessions varies depending on the pet's condition and response to treatment. While some pets might benefit from monthly sessions, others might require more frequent treatments.

The frequency of acupuncture is usually tailored to the pet's specific needs and response to treatment. For certain conditions, multiple sessions per week could be beneficial initially, tapering off as improvements are observed. Always consult with a veterinary acupuncturist to determine the best treatment plan.

Acupuncture should be stopped or reduced in frequency when the desired improvement in the pet's condition has been achieved and maintained. Regular check-ups with your veterinary acupuncturist can help decide when to adjust treatment frequency or stop altogether.

Results from acupuncture can be seen immediately in some cases, but more commonly it takes several sessions before noticeable improvements occur. The response time varies based on the pet's individual health and the condition being treated.

The length and frequency of acupuncture treatments depend on the pet's specific needs and condition. Chronic conditions may require ongoing treatment, while acute conditions may only need a few sessions. Consult with your veterinary acupuncturist for a tailored treatment plan.

Yes, acupuncture can aid in speeding up the healing process. By improving circulation and reducing inflammation, it can enhance the body's natural healing abilities.

While this mainly applies to human patients, the idea is to avoid cooling down too quickly and to maintain the warmth and relaxation induced by the treatment. For pets, it's recommended to avoid strenuous activities or anything that could induce stress after treatment.

Before acupuncture, ensure your pet is well-rested and not overly hungry or full. This can help them relax during the session. Also, avoid strenuous activities before the treatment.