Monthly Doctor’s Blog: Acupuncture

Every month, the doctors of Atlas Vet write a blog post to help pet owners with common questions

This month, Dr. Kate White discusses Acupuncture!

Does AtlasVet offer acupuncture?


What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a major component of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), which is a comprehensive way of diagnosing, treating and preventing illness through methods that have been used in China for over 4000 years.

It involves the insertion of very small needles into special points on the surface of the body.  These are external points of access to energy channels that communicate, flow and connect with all of the structures of the body inside and out. 

Why use acupuncture?

Acupuncture can benefit all life stages and a variety of conditions. Most pets’ health problems are diagnosed once illness and imbalance of the body has become very advanced.  It is, of course, very useful to employ acupuncture for these pets.  However, acupuncture can be even more useful when used regularly and before disease is evident.   Besides its effectiveness in treating health problems – Acupuncture is also an excellent way to prevent disease from occurring.

How does acupuncture work?

1.       Veterinary acupuncture stimulates the release of the body’s own pain relieving and anti-inflammatory substances. 

2.       Relaxation of muscles at the site of needle insertion and more distant locations is achieved with veterinary acupuncture treatment, creating both a local and generalized pain relieving effect.

3.       Veterinary acupuncture improves tissue blood flow, oxygenation and removal of metabolic wastes and toxins.

4.       Unlike prescription and over the counter pain medications, veterinary acupuncture lacks potential adverse side effects for your pet’s internal organs.

5.       Your pet’s medications or supplements will not adversely interact with veterinary acupuncture treatment, so it can safely be used to treat a variety of illnesses.

What can acupuncture treat?

1.       Your pet’s medications or supplements will not adversely interact with veterinary acupuncture treatment, so it can safely be used to treat a variety of illnesses.

2.       Pain management is one of the most common uses for acupuncture, often in conjunction with a more traditional treatment plan.

3.       Musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis, hip dysplasia or nerve injuries can respond to acupuncture. It is often employed during rehabilitation after an injury or after surgery.

4.       Skin problems like allergic dermatitis, granulomas, or “hot spots” may respond well to acupuncture treatment because increased circulation can improve healing, while pain reduction will reduce a dog’s over-grooming or itching response

5.       Gastrointestinal problems like chronic nausea and diarrhea can be aided by the increased blood flow from acupuncture. It may also help normalize digestive activity by stimulating digestive secretions.

6.       Respiratory problems like asthma and allergies can benefit from the immune-calming, anti-inflammatory capabilities of acupuncture. 

While the above are some of the most common ailments that acupuncture is used to treat, the list of conditions that acupuncture can help with is seemingly endless. 

Does acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture is almost painless in most cases.  The needles are much smaller than needles used for things like vaccines and blood draws.  Occasionally an animal may show slight discomfort when the needle initially goes through the skin but this is actually rare.  Sedation is never used and rarely needed.  Often after the needles are placed an animal will visibly relax and sometimes even fall asleep.