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Natural Awakenings NYC & Long Island

An Introduction to Veterinary Acupuncture

By Dr. Michel Selmer

In the wide world of medicine, some physicians and veterinarians argue that only one type of medicine is scientifically proven, evidence-based, and supported by solid data, and all other treatments are unproven and lack scientific corroboration. However, many therapeutic modalities, such as acupuncture, have been used worldwide for thousands of years and continue to be valid and beneficial to people and pets.

What is veterinary acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), an ancient treatment modality based on the philosophy that the body’s life force, or qi, flows along body channels known as meridians. Imbalances in an individual’s qi are thought to cause disharmony, followed by disease. 

Acupuncture involves inserting thin, sterile needles into specific meridian points at nerve bundles, near major blood vessels, and throughout muscle tissue to positively stimulate the nervous and physiological systems. Acupuncture improves circulation, increases immune response, stimulates tissue repair, and reduces inflammation. It also stimulates the body to release natural pain relievers and increases serotonin levels. 

What conditions can veterinary acupuncture treat?

Acupuncture can benefit pets affected by a wide range of health conditions, including:

  • Chronic orthopedic conditions (e.g., arthritis, hip dysplasia)

  • Intervertebral disc disease

  • Post-surgical pain

  • Nerve conditions

  • Traumatic injuries

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) issues

  • Seizures

  • Allergies

  • Behavioral problems

  • Kidney disease

  • Liver disease

  • Chemotherapy side effects

  • Lick granulomas

  • Heart conditions

What can I expect during my pet’s acupuncture appointment?

An initial acupuncture session typically begins with a thorough physical examination and a comprehensive review of your pet’s medical history, including previous diagnostics and treatments. Depending on your pet’s individual needs, needles are inserted in various locations in their head, body and limbs. Most pets relax and enjoy their treatment, which usually takes about 30 minutes. Some patients may need a mild sedative, and some pet owners report their four-legged friend is a little tired or stiff the next day. Most dogs and cats, however, act completely normal.

How do I know if my pet is a good acupuncture candidate?

Acupuncture can benefit pets with many chronic conditions, including arthritis, GI problems, inflammation, chemotherapy-related issues, and skin conditions. This non-invasive, drug-free treatment modality is especially helpful for pets who cannot receive certain medications for health problems, such as liver and kidney disease.

Acupuncture is an extremely safe therapeutic option when performed by a veterinary acupuncture-certified veterinarian, who will often use the treatment in conjunction with other modalities to address your pet’s health care needs holistically and comprehensively. 

Michel Selmer, DVM, MS, CTCVMP, CVMMP, is with Long Island Veterinary Specialists where he provides acupuncture, chiropractic and integrative medicine services for pets. For more information, call 516-501-1700 or visit

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