Written by Rose DiLeva VMD, MS, CVCP, CVA. Posted in Ask The Vet.

Q:   I’ve recently found out that acupuncture is practiced on pets. What pets exactly?

A:     Acupuncture is the placement of tiny needles into specific predetermined locations, called acupuncture points, on the body for the purposes of healing. The word “acupuncture” is derived from the Latin “acus”, which means “needle” and “pungare”, which means, “to pierce”.

Veterinary acupuncture in the Chinese literature is documented over 3,000 years ago. Many of these same principles are practiced, researched and taught in China and around the world today. The original animal that we know of that was treated with acupuncture in China was the horse. Today acupuncture is practiced on horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, pigs, sheep, goats, cows, ducks, various birds, and even exotic mammals.


     What types of medical conditions or diseases can acupuncture help?


     Acupuncture can benefit the following conditions: arthritis, allergies, asthma, bronchitis, dermatitis, hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease, spondylosis, gastrointestinal issues (vomiting, diarrhea, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, gastritis, gastroenteritis), cancer, seizures, kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid disease (hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism), musculoskeletal problems (sprains, strains, acute trauma, disc disease), urinary and fecal incontinence, pain management, urinary issues (cystitis, feline urologic syndrome, bladder stones) and much more.

     The World Health Organization recommends acupuncture as an effective treatment for over forty-two medical conditions, including allergies, respiratory conditions, gastrointestinal disorders, nervous system conditions, gynecological problems, disorders of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, chronic pain associated with arthritis and degenerative joint disease, and as an adjunct in patients suffering from cancer and AIDS.


     How can I find a veterinarian that practices acupuncture on animals?


     First and foremost the individual that works on your pet must be a licensed veterinarian. Human acupuncturists should NOT practice acupuncture on animals. Additionally, you want to find a practitioner who is certified in veterinary acupuncture. This means that they went through all the additional education and standards set forth by certifying organizations such as The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. I am certified by The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. A certified veterinary acupuncturist can be found at The American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture web site,, The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society web site,, or The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association web site,


     How long does an animal acupuncture treatment take?

 A: An acupuncture treatment on a pet generally lasts between ten and thirty minutes. The dry needles are placed in the appropriate locations as determined by the veterinary acupuncturist. The pet is allowed to walk around, sit or lie down during the treatment. Often the animal yawns as the process releases endorphins, which is one of the bodies’ natural relaxing chemicals. Many pets actually fall asleep during their treatment. The treatment is pleasant and basically uneventful.

      Initially, treatments are weekly or biweekly depending on the condition. As the situation improves and the pet responds, the intervals between treatments are increased. Many patients who have chronic arthritis may only need to be seen four or five times a year to maintain a level of comfort.

Dr. DiLeva is a 1987 graduate of The University of Pennsylvania’s school of veterinary medicine. She practices alternative and conventional veterinary medicine. Dr. DiLeva is a certified veterinary Acupuncturist, a certified veterinary Chiropractitioner and an award winning author. She can be reached at 610-558-1616 for appointments and telephone consultations. Her web site is

Pinterest Pin It

Tried and True Awards

Tried & True

LWM prestigious award.

2015DIYLOGO Do it yourself, Great new products and how to's

Copyright © 2005-2022 Living Well Magazine