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Fur Times | June 18, 2019

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How Veterinary Acupuncture Can Help Your Pet

How Veterinary Acupuncture Can Help Your Pet
Jonathan Block, DVM CVA

Here at Worth Street Veterinary Center, we find acupuncture to be particularly beneficial for animals suffering from musculoskeletal disorders, neurologic disorders and for patients who are rehabilitating from injuries or surgeries.



It’s also very effective in promoting and maintaining a good quality of life in geriatric patients and those who may be suffering from cancer or other chronic, degenerative diseases.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the stimulation of a specific point on the body, usually through inserting very thin, painless needles (usually about the thickness of a strand of hair), resulting in a therapeutic response. Scientific research has validated that most acupuncture points correlate with areas of high-density nerve fibers, arteries, veins and lymphatic vessels. When these points are stimulated, physiologic reactions result, which affect a patient both at the local point of stimulation and throughout the body.

How does acupuncture work, and what are the effects?

Local effects of acupuncture include inflammation reduction and pain relief through the release of anti-inflammatory chemicals such as histamine. For example, while it may sound counterintuitive, if your pet is having knee pain from a ligament injury, acupuncture can provide pain relief by inserting needles in specific, local points around the knee.

Systemic benefits (those that occur throughout the body) result from the release of hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain, such as beta-endorphins and serotonin. This can benefit a variety of ailments and help to promote health and well-being in the following ways:

  • Pain relief
  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Immune regulation
  • Gastrointestinal regulation
  • Hormone and reproductive regulation

So, say your pet is having chronic diarrhea that has stopped responding to conventional treatments. We may opt to treat your pet with acupuncture as well as dietary management instead of the typical antibiotics and anti-diarrheals.

The effects of acupuncture can be immediate, or they can be realized over several days and/or treatments, depending on the underlying condition. Overall, we know that acupuncture broadens our ability to treat certain ailments in your pet. It takes the burden off of relying on medications (eg, anti-inflammatories) that have potentially harmful effects over time.

How do I know if acupuncture can help my pet?

In general, acupuncture can be used both as a treatment for an illness or injury and as a way to maintain a normal, healthy patient. It can act as an exclusive form of therapy or in conjunction with conventional medicine or surgery. We may recommend acupuncture if your pet is suffering from any of the following conditions:

  • Musculoskeletal problems — arthritis, back pain/disc disease
  • Neurologic disorders — such as seizures, paralysis, cognitive disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorders — vomiting, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease
  • Chronic systemic diseases — heart disease, chronic kidney disease, respiratory ailments, and cancer
  • Performance enhancement and sports medicine
  • Behavioral disorders — anxiety, phobias

For information on ongoing research and clinical studies involving acupuncture, you can visit the website of the National Institute of Health Complimentary and Alternative Medicine at

If you would like to learn more about veterinary acupuncture or how your dog or cat may benefit from it, please feel free to call us at Worth Street Veterinary Center at (212) 257-6900.

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