Acupuncture For Dogs With Arthritis

Learn about how acupuncture can help dogs suffering with arthritis and joint pain. Also find out how it works, what are the side effects as well as their benefits.

Understanding Acupuncture

The traditional technique of acupuncture originated over 3000 years ago as part of a holistic healing system called Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM).

Chinese medicine holds that all humans and animals have a "life force" called qi (pronounced "chi") that moves through the body through pathways called meridians. Specific points on these meridians that are located close to the surface of the body, then, can be accessed via small needles or lasers to re-establish balance in the movement of the qi.

How Acupuncture Is Use To Treat Musculoskeletal Problems

Acupuncture regards most musculoskeletal problems as an obstruction of the qi in the body, which leads to pain, soreness, swelling and stiffness in muscles and joints. TCM believes that is this obstruction is not cleared; the normal function of the entire body can be affected. An acupuncturist can restore these obstructions of qi by inserting tiny needles into specific points along these channels to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

How Does Acupuncture Work To Relive Dogs With Arthritis and Joint Pain?

Acupuncture For Dogs With Arthritis

While acupuncture was originally meant for humans, in recent years, acupuncture has become an increasingly popular complementary therapy for dogs to help relieve the joint pain and inflammation associated with canine arthritis or musculoskeletal problems.

The vet will insert tiny needles into various parts of the dog's body to stimulate your pet's acupuncture points to release the blocked "qi" as well as various other chemicals such as endorphins and enkephalins. This helps to restore the "qi" energy back to your dog and also aid in stopping the signs of arthritis.

Depending on the length of ailments or types of injuries that your pet may suffer from, it usually requires a minimum of 3 acupuncture therapy sessions to see visible improvement. Older or more complex injuries will require more treatments and a longer period of time to heal.

Is Acupuncture Painful For Dogs? Are There Any Risk or Side Effects?

Acupuncture of dogs is generally a painless process with most dogs showing no signs of discomfort. In fact, most dogs tend to relax and even fall asleep during treatment, which usually can last up to 30 minutes per session.

As of date, side effects from modern acupuncture are rare but pet owners should watch over their dogs during the treatment period. On very rare occasions, infections may occur at the site of needle insertion.

What Are The Other Forms of Acupuncture And Their Benefits?

Laser Acupuncture Therapy

Laser acupuncture usually uses low-energy laser beams to influence the flow of current at the acupuncture points. A beam of light from the laser tube is aimed onto an acupuncture point, stimulating it similar to the way traditional acupuncture needles do. This method is often used for treatment for conditions like spondylosis (spinal arthritis) in dogs.


The technique of aquapuncture uses water subcutaneously. It uses a hypodermic syringe and needle to gently inject tiny amounts of vitamins (usually comprising of lidocaine, saline, and vitamin B12) at the acupuncture points for a more prolonged effect. Aquapuncture is good for dogs that experience severe back or hip pain which is caused from vertebral spondylosis, arthritis or hip dysplasia.


In the variation of electro acupuncture, where needles inserted on specific acupuncture points on the body are wired to a device that generate continuous mild electric pulses. The pulses stimulate the acupuncture points in the dog's body in varying intensities and frequencies, depending on the condition being treated. Electro acupuncture may be recommended for dogs who are already in severe pain or are paralyzed, since the electrical stimulation works on the acupuncture points in a more intense way to help speed up recovery.

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