Acupuncture for Animals


There are two main professional bodies for Acupuncture in the UK:

The ABVA maintain standards of education, ethics, practice and discipline to ensure the health and wellbeing of animals in the UK. Similarly, the IVAS mission is to provide, promote and support veterinary acupuncture and related treatment modalities through quality basic, advanced and continuing education; internationally recognized certification for veterinarians; and support responsible research.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture has evolved from the ancient art of placing needles into special locations on the body to alleviate pain, improve recovery rates and increase resistance to disease. It has been practiced by the Chinese and other Eastern cultures for thousands of years and may be used to treat a wide variety of illnesses.

Acupuncture treatment should always follow an accurate diagnosis of the problem and a full appraisal of all treatment options. In many cases acupuncture is best used in conjunction with conventional medicine however, in some situations, it can be used as a sole treatment.

Adding acupuncture to a treatment plan can help to reduce the patient’s requirements for medications which may have undesirable side effects.

Most importantly, acupuncture is extremely safe when practiced correctly and is well accepted by the majority of animals.

Dog acupuncture

Traditional Chinese Medicine

The Chinese approach to disease is very holistic. Emotional, hereditary and environmental factors are considered to be important elements in disease patterns. The philosophy and aim of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is to restore equilibrium between physical, emotional and spiritual factors – thus restoring and maintaining health. Treatment involves using needles in specific acupuncture points (sometimes in combination with herbal therapy) to address imbalances in Yin and Yang as well as improving the flow of Qi and blood.

Western Scientific Acupuncture

Scientific research into acupuncture has made enormous progress over the past 40 years and now explains much of acupuncture’s actions which had previously only been understood in the ancient concepts of health described in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

This has brought about greater recognition and acceptance of acupuncture within the scientific community. Early research focused mainly on pain relief and the endogenous opioid responses to acupuncture, however, further advances have revealed potent normalising effects to the hypothalamus and autonomic nervous system. This has opened the understanding of its use in all manner of internal medical disorders including respiratory, digestive, and reproductive problems. The Yin and Yang balance paradigm can now be explained by the correlations with the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems and this helps bring the holistic view of health back into focus.

Combined Approach

By combining these two approaches, acupuncture may be particularly effective in the treatment of chronic disease states – either to complement orthodox treatments or when orthodox medicine fails.

What conditions can it treat?

Pain is one of the most common indications for acupuncture. Very often, in cats and dogs, this is chronic (long-term) pain due to arthritis but muscular strains and spinal problems can also respond well. Acupuncture can also be a great asset to the rehabilitation of pets following orthopaedic or spinal surgeries. In horses, there can be myofascial pain, sometimes associated with joint disease. Often, equine cases will appear as behaviour problems such as crib-biting or box-walking but have an underlying and undiagnosed pain element. Equines are often highly trained athletes used for strenuous and demanding disciplines which often lead to musculoskeletal injuries. The use of acupuncture alone or in combination with other therapies can improve the speed and quality of recovery and avoid the need for medications banned under competition rules.

Acupuncture can also be of great benefit to medical conditions in pets, such as gastrointestinal disease, urinary disorders, epilepsy and much more. In horses, we often have success with recurrent colic or diarrhoea and chronic respiratory disease such as COPD/RAO. As each treatment is specifically tailored to an individual through extensive history taking and detailed examination, the protocol used will vary from animal to animal so speak to your veterinary acupuncturist about your pet’s individual case. Be aware that, as with any treatment, there are a small percentage of animals that will not respond to acupuncture.

If you think that your pet or horse could benefit from acupuncture, the first step is to talk to your own vet. Acupuncture can only be performed on animals in the UK by a qualified veterinary surgeon who is a practising member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. On occasion, needles may be placed by a Registered Veterinary Nurse under the supervision of an appropriately trained vet. There may already be a vet trained in acupuncture at your practice. If not, you or your vet can use the Find a Vet function to search for a veterinary acupuncturist in your area. Your vet can then refer your pet or horse to this practitioner for acupuncture treatment. Medications and treatment for anything other than acupuncture is still provided by your own vet.

Holistic Health Modalities

Animal Behvaviour

Essences for Animals

Herbal Medicine for Animals

Homeopathy for Animals

Obsalim for Animals

Natural Feeding for Animals


Body Work Therapies

Body Work - General- for Animals

Bowen Technique/Therapy for Animals

Canine Massage

Chiropractic - McTimony - for Animals

Craniosacral Therapy for Animals

Hydrotherapy for Animals

Galen (Canine) Myotherapy

Masterson Method for Horses

Osteopathy for Animals

Tellington TTouch for Animals

Physiotherapy for Animals

Therapeutic Equipment

Photizo Light Therapy for Animals

SCENAR for Animals

ABVA – Association of British Veterinary Acupuncturists

IVAS – International Veterinary Acupuncture Association

Read our CAM4animals blogs about Acupuncture

A sample of our blogs showing how acupuncture has been used for animals is displayed below

Supporting a Dog with Kidney Disease

Supporting a Dog with Kidney Disease

Jack is my 15-year-old Jack Russell. He is incontinent and has kidney disease, but it’s not the end of the world. Supporting Jack has been significantly helped by integrated vet care which treats him as an individual with his own specific needs. As well as a mix of conventional and complementary treatments such as herbs, homeopathy and nutraceuticals, this individualised medicine approach has included tailoring his diet. Jack’s excessive drinking and incontinence have become much reduced. We have also incorporated several tricks into making life as easy as possible for him and for us.

Healing Stinging Nettles

Healing Stinging Nettles

Once prized as a valuable source of food, medicine and material to make cloth and cord, the nettle (Urtica dioica) is now largely seen as a troublesome weed to be vigorously cut, strimmed and sprayed to control or kill it. We asked Caroline Hearn of Hedgerow Hounds to tell us about its uses and healing properties in Healing Stinging Nettles.

Acupuncture Saves Frieda the Rabbit

Acupuncture Saves Frieda the Rabbit

We asked vet Dr Carole Parsons of Pet Therapy Mobile Acupuncture to tell us about Frieda the rabbit who was faced with being put to sleep when her arthritis worsened and acupuncture was tried as a last resort

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