Pet Acupuncture

Pet acupuncture is a non-invasive holistic approach to medicine that can improve both the physical and mental health of your animal.

Acupuncture is the insertion of ultra fine needles into specific points in the body in order to promote the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture can be explained using both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory and Western science. Firstly acupuncture has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to TCM within our bodies we have an energy called Qi. Qi flows around our body along special pathways called meridians.  When there is a disruption to the normal flow of this energy and the energy becomes imbalanced, we succumb to pain and illness. By inserting acupuncture needles into specific points along these meridians (i.e. acupuncture points) we are able to redirect the flow of qi and restore the balance, thus eliminating disease.

Over time much scientific research has been done into the mechanisms of acupuncture. Western medicine has shown that the insertion of acupuncture needles leads to a number of physiological changes that promote the body’s self-healing mechanisms. These changes include: the release of encephalins and endorphins (which are the body’s natural pain killers), the down regulation of inflammation,  the redirection of blood flow, the alteration of certain chemical concentrations within the blood, and the alteration of  nerve impulses to reduce pain signals.

Does acupuncture hurt and is it safe?

Great care is taken to ensure that acupuncture treatments are as gentle and relaxing as possible for your animal.  Dr Jess uses super fine, sterile acupuncture needles and most of the time your pet will not feel them being inserted. Occasionally a tender acupuncture point will be needled and this can cause a slight pinching sensation but that feeling will quickly disappear. In fact some acupuncture patients have found their treatments so relaxing that they have taken a nap immediately afterwards.

Veterinary acupuncture is a safe treatment modality when administered by a qualified acupuncture veterinarian.

What will happen at an acupuncture appointment?

Dr Jess will start by taking a thorough history and giving your pet a routine clinical examination. She will then perform a TCM examination to determine and TCM diagnosis and acupuncture treatment plan. During an acupuncture session, acupuncture needles are inserted into acupuncture points and left in place for 10-20 minutes. Initial acupuncture appointments are 1 hour in length and additional follow up appointments are 30 minutes long. Chronic problems such as osteoarthritis often require 3-4 initial treatments (spaced one week apart), with follow up sessions once every 4-6 weeks or as required. Acute cases, such as muscle strains, may only require 1-2 sessions in total. Each pet and their treatment will vary.


What types of conditions can acupuncture be used to treat?

Some examples of conditions that can be treated with acupuncture are listed below:

  • Musculoskeletal conditions
    • Arthritis
    • Intervertebral disc disease
    • Traumatic nerve injury
    • Soft tissue sprains and strains
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
    • Diarrhea
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Urinary tract disorders
    • Cystitis
    • Kidney insufficiency
  • Respiratory problems
    • Feline asthma
  • Dermatological problems
    • Acral lick granulomas
    • Allergic dermatitis
    • Ear infections
    • Painful scars
  • Neurological illness
    • Epilepsy
  • Behavioural problems
    • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • General pain management

To find out whether acupuncture is right for your pet we recommend that you book in a consultation with our resident acupuncture veterinarian Dr Jess. Dr Jessica Coates is a fully qualified veterinarian with an additional certification in veterinary acupuncture attained through The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, which is the leading institution in veterinary acupuncture.

What can I expect following an acupuncture treatment?

Acupuncture is a cumulative therapy meaning that it becomes more effective over time and with repeated treatments. There are three possible outcomes immediately following an acupuncture session:

  • No change
  • Animal may appear sleepy and/or symptoms may actually worsen for 1-2 days before improving
  • Symptoms may abate for 1-2 days

Is acupuncture the same as dry needling?

While both acupuncture and dry needling involve puncturing the skin with fine needles, it is important to understand that these treatment modalities are not the same. Dry needling is the practice of placing needles into pressure points and knots in muscles to release tension in order to relieve pain. Acupuncture has a complex theory and requires an understanding of TCM to achieve a more holistic and systemic outcome for the patient.

What is the cost of acupuncture at Johnston Street Veterinary Clinic?

Initial consultation: $148 (1 hour in length)

Follow up treatments: $99 (30 minutes)If you would like more information about pet acupuncture please contact the clinic on 9416 3788.