Acupuncture FAQ

What is Acupuncture?


Acupuncture can be “simply” defined as the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response. This technique has been practiced for thousands of years in China to treat various ailments, as well as prevent disease. It is used around the world, either alone or conjunction with Western medicine, treating a wide variety of conditions in every species of animal.

In 1996, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) stated "Veterinary acupuncture involves the examination and stimulation of specific points on the body of nonhuman animals by the use of acupuncture needles, moxibustion, injections, low-level lasers, magnets, and a variety of other techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of numerous conditions in animals." In 2014, the AVMA admitted the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA) into the House of Delegates as a constituent allied veterinary organization, recognizing the validity of acupuncture in the treatment of animals.

From the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, Qi and Blood flow through the body, nourishing the tissues and organs. Qi is the “vital force” or “life energy” that maintains the life process. It comes from the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the fluids we drink. When we stimulate the acupuncture points, we “regulate” the flow of Qi and Blood. The acupuncturist chooses a combination of points, a “prescription” to address the patient's pattern diagnosis. 

Many clinical studies have been conducted to gain a better understanding of how acupuncture works. We know that it affects the body neurologically and biochemically. But, we have only scratched the surface. Modern science cannot "explain" the effects of acupuncture. Because of this,  many in the scientific world question the validity of acupuncture. Ignoring the positive results from the multitude of clinical trials in both animals and humans is illogical. As the medical world becomes more knowledgeable of how our body works, I do not doubt that studies by future colleagues will support the core principles of Eastern medicine. Eastern and Western modalities will become more and more integrated. Eastern and Western medicine work complementary to each other, not in competition. This blending of both worlds can only lead to longer, healthier lives for both companion pets and humans.

How does it work?


From the Western perspective, acupuncture stimulates all major physiologic systems positively. It works primarily through the central nervous system affecting the musculoskeletal, hormonal, and cardiovascular systems. Acupuncture increases blood circulation, increases the release of many neurotransmitters and neurohormones, some of which are endorphins - the bodies "natural pain-killing" hormones. Acupuncture relieves muscle spasms, stimulates nerves, and stimulates the body's immune system. Stimulation by acupuncture needles multiplies natural morphine production 20 to 100 times. Electroacupuncture adds another three-fold increase in production of these natural pain killers. Acupuncture increases the levels of mood-elevating hormones such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine 30 - 50%.

From the Eastern perspective, poor health is considered to be an imbalance in the flow of "Qi" energy and Blood through the body. Acupuncture therapy helps to return the balance within the meridian energy flow. Stimulating specific acupuncture points that correlate with the pattern diagnosis "rebalances" the body to a more normal state. The ultimate goal of the acupuncturist is to treat the "root" cause. A patient responds faster and returns to a healthier state of health by addressing the root problem.


Acupuncture Questions

  • Pain Management (post-surgery pain, arthritis, hip dysplasia, disc disease)
  • Cardiovascular Disorders (cardiomyopathy, heart failure)
  • Respiratory Disorders (bronchitis, asthma)
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders (diarrhea, constipation, megacolon)
  • Reproductive disorders (infertility)
  • Immunological Disorders (autoimmune diseases such as immune medicated anemia, thrombocytopenia, pemphigus)
  • Dermatological disorders (dry itchy, moist dermatitis, lick granulomas)
  • Behavioral Disorders (aggression, anxiety, phobias, compulsive behaviors)
  • Neurological Disorders (seizures, nerve paralysis, degenerative myelopathy, phantom pain)
Acupuncture does not "cure" the above disorders. Modern medical practices seldom cure chronic medical conditions. Acupuncture helps to make the patient more comfortable, reduces the frequency and severity of the symptoms. In some patients, medications are reduced, decreasing the potentially harmful side effects, such as liver and kidney damage, to the body.
Acupuncture involves the use of thin sterilized stainless steel/copper needles that are difficult to see with the naked eye. Having had acupuncture herself, Dr. Craig can testify that the level of sensitivity can range from nothing to a brief moment of a sharp sensation. Humans are more reactive to the insertion than cats, and cats are more responsive to the insertion than dogs. Once the needles are in place, most animals relax.
Acupuncture is one of the safest therapies utilized when practiced by a trained acupuncturist. Side effects are rare but possible. Occasionally an animal's condition may deteriorate temporarily before improving.
Acupuncture: A Scientific Appraisal, Ernst, and White, 2000 --- Peter Deadman, Mazin Al-Khafaji, and Kevin Baker. A Manual of Acupuncture. Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications, 2007 --- Maciocia, Giovanni. Channels of Acupuncture. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2006 --- Maciocia, Giovanni. Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 1989 --- Marsden, Steve and Susan Wynn. Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine, Science, and Tradition. Mosby, 2003 --- Peilin, Sun. The Treatment of Pain with Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture. Editor: Sun Peillin. 2nd edition. Churchhill Livingstone Elsevier, 2011 --- Ross, Jeremy. Acupuncture and Point Combinations. Churchill Livingstone, 1995 --- Schoen, Allen M. Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern, 2001 --- Xie, Huisheng. Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine: Fundamental Principles. 2nd Edition. Chi Institute Press, 2013 --- Xie, Huisheng. Xie's Veterinary Acupuncture. Blackwell Publishing, 2007 --- Xinnong, Cheng, ed. Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion. Foreign Languages Press, 1987.

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