Acupuncture for pets 

By vet Laura Binnie

Pet owners are sometimes surprised to learn that acupuncture is a treatment which can be used on animals, but we have been using it for a number of years with success.

It derives from ancient Chinese medicine, though we use a more Western form of it here today.

I have been treating pets with acupuncture for more than 10 years and I am a qualified animal acupuncturist.

Acupuncture can be used on any animal and has been shown to have positive effects on a range of ailments. 

It involves inserting fine needles into the body for up to 10 minutes at a time, which stimulates pain relief and the release of ‘feelgood’ hormones.

At Paragon typically we use it to target pain from arthritic joints and have many successes with it. We’ve been offering this service at the practice for about 15 years and have helped to relieve the pain felt by many pets, either using acupuncture on its own or alongside medication, physiotherapy and/or hydrotherapy.

Effectively, acupuncture works in a similar way to laser therapy but is better suited to those patients that can’t or won’t tolerate the laser. 

It works best in pets that are not too anxious about being at the vets and are happy being handled and settle well. We have used it successfully in rabbits as well as cats and dogs. 

I have a few rabbits being treated currently. One in particular was very sore at the beginning of the treatment. Most of his pain was along his spine and as a result he’d given up grooming himself. He had lost a lot of muscle because he wasn’t moving as much and he spent a lot of time hiding. 

After a few sessions he started to show signs of being happier, his coat quality improved and he would play more and seek attention from his owner and cage mate. He also eats better now. I see him about every three weeks now for repeat sessions and he continues to do well. 

Another success was a very stiff and sore old Lab. His joint pain was mainly around his neck and shoulders.

He wasn’t sure about the needles at first and needed a very gentle approach, and a lot of reassuring.

I built his confidence by only placing a few needles at a time and increased gradually and now he comes in wagging his tail and lies down on the bed ready for his pampering session! 

Acupuncture is definitely worth considering if you have a pet whose quality of life is being impacted by pain.