Pet Acupuncture – Is it More Than Just a Bunch of Needles?


pet acupuncturePet owners are known for coming up with creative ways to take care of their pets .. but … pet acupuncture?

Even in 2013, acupuncture is a topic filled with criticism and doubt … and that’s just with acupuncture for humans. But as more and more Americans are seeking alternative medicine as a way to better their lives, so too are more and more pet owners seeking the off-beaten path as a way to heal the ailments of their cats, dogs, horses and more.

The Veterinary Acupuncturist

Any pet owner considering taking their animal friend to an acupuncturist should know that there is, in fact, a title of veterinary acupuncturist. Not only that, but there is an established International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) based out of Fort Collins, Colorado.

The IVAS was founded in 1974, after National Acupuncture Association members Dr. Gene Bruno and Dr. John Ottaviano showed and trained veterinarians how this eastern medicine could work for small and large animals, including horses.

While there is (and likely always will be) vocal critics of pet acupuncture, the existence of the IVAS can at least give pet owners some peace of mind that a certified veterinary acupuncturist, through the IVAS, is held to certain standards and required to demonstrate a level of skill and professionalism.

Does pet acupuncture actually work?

One of the biggest criticisms of human acupuncture is that it’s nothing more than a placebo. We, as humans, want to believe these needles are healing our headaches, ulcers, cancer, or whatever, therefore, we will our bodies to get better.

Proponents of pet acupuncture are quick to say that this placebo effect has no role in the animal kingdom. A dog has no idea why you’re sticking a needle in his forehead. He doesn’t know that you’re trying to heal him, so that any positive results of the acupuncture is proof in the pudding .. or needle.

There are some case studies demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture on animals. These include:

  • Moxie, a 16-year-old horse suffering from equine headshaking (in Australia)
  • Acupuncture treatments for animal reproductive disorders (China)
  • Inducing oestrus in gilts (Czech Republic)


What’s impressive about researching these case studies is the in-depth work dedicated veterinary acupuncturists commit toward their field. Sure, there will always be people who dub acupuncture, water therapy, meditation, yoga and other alternative medicines as voodoo medicine, but it’s clear that highly educated doctors with positive intentions are behind this movement toward pet acupuncture.

What could pet acupuncture be used for?

Some of the more common ailments that have been treated by pet acupuncture include:

  • Feline asthma

  • Diarrhea

  • Skin problems (such as lick granuloma)

  • Hip dysplasia


Some of these ailments are common health issues pet owners face, but struggle to treat. Does that mean that pet acupuncture is the answer?

Not necessarily. It’s not like pet acupuncture is a guaranteed treatment for any issues, but for the desperate or creative pet owner, it could be a new way to provide better health. Or least take a stab at it … with a needle.