Pet Acupuncture FAQs

Acupuncture Isn't Just for People

Acupuncture is the art of placing very fine, sterile needles at specific points on the body to stimulate the nervous system in ways that relieve pain and accelerate healing. The tiny amount of stimulation these needles provide releases natural pain-relieving neurochemicals such as endorphins and serotonin, relaxes tense muscles for increased mobility and blood circulation, and blocks pain signals without any need for medication. Here are three of the most frequently asked questions about acupuncture answered by your veterinarian at Valley Veterinary Hospital of Helena.


What kinds of conditions are treated by pet acupuncture?

A lot more than you might expect.

Dogs and cats react badly to common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers. The drugs that are available for relieving pain in pets have considerable side effects, and certain breeds of dogs and cats have more side effects than others. Acupuncture offers a real way to relieve a pet's pain when drug treatments just don't work.

Pain isn't the only area of pet care that makes use of acupuncture. There are methods of acupuncture treatment for loss of appetite (which can have potentially deadly consequences in cats), arthritis, asthma, hip dysplasia, constipation in dogs, megacolon in cats, urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, liver disease, failure to lactate, excessive lactation, muscle spasms, vomiting, and trigger points (knots in muscles).

How many treatments will my pet need?

The number of acupuncture treatments needed for pet care depends on each individual pet's condition. Neurological conditions like dragging a paw or incontinence will usually require more treatments than simpler conditions like joint pain in older pets. Many pets benefit from shorter sessions more frequently when their treatment is just starting, and reach a level of pain-free function that only requires occasional maintenance visits. Some animals respond to acupuncture right away, while others need three or four treatments to begin to improve.

Will my pet be calm enough to stay still for the entire session?

One of the beneficial side effects of pet acupuncture is the release of endorphins. Your vet may have to start the treatment session slowly, but most animals calm down after 10 or 15 minutes of needling. The needles are thin enough that they do not hurt. 

Part of every acupuncture treatment is discussing your pet's health history and making sure all sensitive areas are addressed. Sometimes, your vet will apply a very mild electrical current to the needles to increase their healing effects on your pet's nervous system. Acupuncture makes a visible difference in pet care in nearly all cases.

Valley Veterinary Hospital in Helena is your source for pet care for happy and healthy pets.

Dr. Armstrong and Dr. Reisinger operate Helena's best equipped holistic pet care animal hospital. Email us to request an appointment or call us at (406) 442-0188. The offices of our animal hospital are located at Valley Veterinary Hospital of Helena, 4880 N. Montana Ave., Helena, MT 59602.