Animal Acupuncture

I trained in Western Veterinary Acupuncture 10 years ago, and has treated and improved the quality of life of many patients.

Once considered to be a ‘alternative’ treatment option; it is now considered a normal part of pain management care plans.

We can offer acupuncture treatment for cats, dogs and rabbits, for many chronic pain conditions.

What is Acupunture?

Acupunture has been around for over 4000 years, and it’s mechanism of action has been explained in terms of ‘energy channels’ within the body.

Western Veterinary Acupunture uses acupuncture points to stimulate the body’s nervous system and immune system, to help heal and reduce pain.

Acupuncture effects can be explained by stimulation of specific areas of the body causing the triggering of release of various chemicals and neurotransmitters, and by encouraging the brain and central nervous system to produce more of the body's natural painkillers. Acupuncture may also help to reset the body's normal functioning.

Will it hurt my pet?

Acupuncture needles are very very thin, and most patients accept the fine needles very well. Some even become so relaxed that they fall asleep during the treatment. Often they look forward to the next treatment when they come back to the practice.

What conditions can it be useful for?

  • Arthritis

  • Back pain

  • Muscle and ligament sprains/strains/spasms

  • Any condition in which pain plays a part

  • Lick granulomas

It can sometimes also be useful in a range of non-painful conditions – feel free to discuss your pet’s individual problems with us.

How often would my pet be treated?

The usual acupuncture course is once a week for four weeks.

After four weeks, depending on the condition and how they have responded, we will work out a plan that involves reducing treatment frequency to about once every 3-4 weeks.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is very safe, in the right hands.

Legally it must only be performed by a Veterinary Surgeon.

There have been no official reports of problems in animals, but there are very occasionally problems in humans treated with acupuncture (which could usually be avoided with care and a good knowledge of anatomy). Human acupuncturists do not have to be doctors.

Sarah only uses high quality acupuncture needles, which are used only once, and are disposable.

What to Expect

The initial consultation and acupuncture treatment will take up to 40 minutes. Your pet’s history and symptoms will be discussed in detail, and they will have a full clinical examination.

We always ensure that we examine the whole body; as discomfort in one area, can often be caused by pain originating from somewhere else.

Subsequent acupuncture treatments will take around 20 minutes.

The first treatment will involve the placement of just a few needles for about 10 minutes, since the first time patients have acupuncture, we do not know how sensitive they will be. There isn’t a set “dose” of acupuncture as there is for medication, so we will judge how much to do based on your pet’s response both at the time and after the treatment.

It does not matter if your pet moves around or lie down during treatment! Many pets become very relaxed and dozy during or after treatment, some wander around!

Some pets will be much improved after just one treatment session, however it is more common to see a gradual improvement over a period of time.

Acupuncture can be, and usually is, used alongside conventional drug treatment.

It can be used on its own.

There is no need to stop ongoing medication (though if the acupuncture works really well, you may find that they no longer need as many painkilling drugs).

What response will I see?

Your pet may show one of three responses to treatment:

1. You may see a good improvement. This can occur anytime in the three days after treatment. The signs that we are trying to treat may then return before the next treatment, but this is fine. After each subsequent treatment the effects should last for longer, so that after the initial course, we can usually leave a longer amount of time between treatments.

2. Occasionally they may seem a little stiffer or more uncomfortable initially. This just means that the dose was a bit too much, but also shows that they should respond very well to acupuncture in the future. After a day or two they will improve again and should be better than before. However, you must tell us, so that they can adjust the treatment next time.

3. You may see no response. This might seem disappointing but importantly, it does not mean that your pet will not respond; it may just be that they will take a little longer, or that their improvement after the first treatment was too brief or small for you to see. We cannot say that they will not respond until after the fourth treatment. Not all animals (or humans) are acupuncture “responders”, but about 80% will be.


The initial consultation and acupuncture session is £65.

Follow-up treatments are £55.

You should check with your insurance company as to whether acupuncture treatments are covered under your policy (they usually are).

For further information or to make an appointment with me, please phone the surgery on (01932 989393).

If you are coming from another Veterinary Practice please ask your vet to refer your pet, they can call us 01932 989393, or email


Dr Sarah Martin

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