Health Benefits of Acupuncture for Dogs

Veterinary laser acupuncture treatments may benefit your dog’s health condition. Today, our Westport vets define this technique, how it may be useful and potential side effects and results.


What is veterinary laser acupuncture?

In its simplest sense, laser acupuncture involves treating symptoms or medical conditions by using low-energy laser beams to stimulate acupuncture points. 

Laser acupuncture is the most common technique we use at Poster Veterinary Associates and can replace traditional acupuncture needles.

The laser unit is aimed at the acupuncture point before a beam of light is emitted and held there for a specific amount of time. Since it is non-invasive, our pet patients are more accepting of this technique rather than the traditional method of using very fine needles.

To produce a response, very fine needles are inserted or laser beams are used to focus on specific points on the body (where blood vessels and bundles of nerves intersect).

Health Benefits of Acupuncture for Dogs, Westport Vets

Sometimes the directive is to enhance blood circulation and stimulate release of hormones with the aim of encouraging the body to correct imbalances.

These energy points can also be stimulated without using needles or laser beams. Techniques referred to as acupressure, cupping or moxibustion are often used, as is ultrasound, the application of heat or cold, or other means the practitioner prescribes.

How safe is veterinary acupuncture?

Acupuncture for dogs is becoming more popular among canine parents. When performed by a certified veterinary acupuncturist trained in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM).

This treatment will often be used in combination with more traditional treatment plans. Your pet should receive a definitive diagnosis and ongoing assessment of their condition and treatment response.

This is critical since acupuncture can mask pain or other clinical symptoms and proper diagnosis may be delayed once treatment has begun. Relief from pain may also lead to an increased activity in your pet, which can worsen the original condition or delay healing.

How long has acupuncture been used on animals?

While acupuncture is an ancient form of medical treatment that has been used in China for thousands of years to produce a healing response in the human body, it only began to be used in North America outside of Asian-American communities infrrequently in the early 1970s.

Since then, its use has increased as more clinical research has been conducted showing positive results from treatment in both humans and animals. Acupuncture has been used in veterinary medicine since about 1975, when the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) was founded.

What are the benefits of acupuncture for dogs?

Acupuncture can relieve pain and stimulate healing of some conditions. For other conditions, it may eliminate the need for surgery. This technique is sometimes used after surgery to improve an animal’s comfort level and foster faster healing during recovery. In some cases, it may eliminate or reduce the need for chronic medication.

Common applications for acupuncture include:

Pain Management

While some medical treatments such as chemotherapy are necessary to treat disease, they can cause discomfort. Acupuncture can be used to assist with pain management and promote comfort, helping a dog to fight illness.

Dermatological Issues

Hot spots, allergic dermatitis and granulomas may respond well to acupuncture since increased circulation can improve healing, Plus, if pain can be alleviated, this can reduce a dog’s itching or overgrooming responses.

Other conditions veterinary acupuncture may be used to treat include gastrointestinal, neurological, pulmonary, reproductive and musculoskeletal disorders. The technique can also be used to treat degenerative myelopathy, epilepsy, traumatic nerve injuries, intervertebral disc disease and other central nervous system disorders, as well as asthma.

Are there side effects to this treatment?

If acupuncture is properly performed, there is a very low risk of any side effects - unlike some medical treatments.

Dogs that have been treated with acupuncture will often be very sleepy or relaxed during treatment. You may notice this state of calm relaxation throughout the rest of the day, while some pets may even feel mildly euphoric.

For the first day or two following treatment, your pet may seem uncomfortable or stiff. This should quickly improve with rest. If your dog seems a little sore after treatment, notify your vet so that future treatments can be adjusted accordingly.

What are potential results from treatment?

Results of treatment differ from one pet to another depending on the overall health status, the condition being treated, and the number and frequency of acupuncture treatments. Similar to other treatments, the earlier treatment is started, and the more frequent and numerous the treatments, the better the response tends to be.

In some cases no change will be noted in your pet’s overall condition. Some pets take up to 4 treatments for improvements to appear, while others will not respond to acupuncture at all.

Within a few days of a treatment session, you and your vet may see improvement in your pet’s condition. While your pet’s improved condition may not last until the next treatment, this is fairly common for pets who are new to acupuncture.

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.

Do you have more questions about veterinary acupuncture? Contact Poster Veterinary Associates to book an appointment and ensure your dog is protected. 

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Poster Veterinary Associates has been providing comprehensive veterinary care for your cherished pets in Westport since 1993.

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(203) 259-3647