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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Dr. Michael Dym
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Acupuncture For Pets: How Does It Work?

You may be familiar with acupuncture therapy, and you may have even tried it for yourself. In recent years, holistic and integrative veterinarians have been seeing great results for our four-legged friends too. Learn more about acupuncture for cats and dogs to find out if it might be a smart step to take in your pet’s healing.

How Does Acupuncture For Pets Work?
Acupuncture therapy has been used for thousands of years, originating in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s based on the idea that the body has over 2000 acupuncture points connected by pathways through which chi, or energy, flows. By using hair-thin needles to activate different points on the body, acupuncture therapists can improve this energy flow and help relieve symptoms of various health conditions, including arthritis, gastritis, anxiety, allergies, athletic injuries, and much more.
In the past 50 years, acupuncture has been explored more widely throughout the world. There are numerous research studies on people and animals showing that acupuncture is effective, especially for pain and inflammation.

Is Acupuncture Stressful For Pets?
It may be hard to picture your cat or dog allowing a veterinarian to stick needles in their body. But many pet owners who have tried the therapy have been surprised to find that their pet relaxes during the treatment and seems rejuvenated afterwards. The needles used for acupuncture are much thinner than those used for vaccines, making them virtually painless.
For pets that will not tolerate the needles, your veterinarian can also try activating acupuncture points through the use of acupressure. Applying manual pressure can work similarly to acupuncture in a way that might be more comfortable for your pet.

How Can Acupuncture Help My Pet?
After your pet is diagnosed with an illness, injury, or condition, your holistic or integrative veterinarian may recommend acupuncture. The therapy may be used in conjunction with pain medications or other therapies like hydrotherapy, laser therapy, physical therapy, or massage.
Some pets may show improvement after their first session, but it’s more typical to see results after 3-4 treatments. Depending on their condition, your veterinarian may recommend 2-3 sessions per week for acute issues or a more relaxed schedule like 1/week for chronic conditions.
Acupuncture does not work for every pet and every condition. You and your veterinarian will evaluate whether the treatment is working for your pet by observing behavioral signs of improvement as well as their bloodwork.
Other holistic options such as T-Relief tablets, Yucca Intensive, and Treatibles can be used alongside acupuncture and can also be a good option for pets that do not respond to the therapy. Always talk to your veterinarian before adding new supplements or therapies to your pet’s treatment plan.