Veterinary Acupuncture & Holistic Medicine: Alternative Therapies to Benefit Your Pet

Acupuncture & Holistic Medicine at  Northwest Neighborhood Veterinary Hospital

In order to provide pets with outstanding veterinary care, it’s essential that we pursue not only Western medicine, but also Eastern medicine as well. There are many alternative therapies available that offer relief to pet patients that don’t respond to traditional treatments.

Northwest Neighborhood Veterinary Hospital is pleased to offer acupuncture and holistic veterinary medicine services to our pet patients. Let’s take a closer look at these therapies and how they could be useful in helping your pet!


Since its origins in China more than 3,000 years ago, acupuncture has been used to provide relief to people suffering from a myriad of health disorders. In more recent years, it has evolved into a standard treatment for pets as well.

Acupuncture works by stimulating the body’s own defenses against pain and inflammation. Needles are inserted into points that are located along pathways of nerves and blood vessels and which are closely tied to nerve endings. Stimulation of these nerve endings increases the body’s production of endorphins and other helpful hormones, such as cortisol.

Determining which acupuncture points to activate will depend upon the pet’s particular illness or malady. For example, acupuncture may be used in treating pet arthritis, chronic pain, allergies, cancer, irritable bowel disease, intervertebral disc disease (back problems), and other musculoskeletal injuries.

What’s Involved

Pet owners are often surprised to learn that the application of acupuncture needles does not hurt. Frequently what pets experience is an immediate prick of the skin, followed by a sensation of heat or tingling. Usually, patients feel rather relaxed after a short while, and they may even feel tired for the rest of the day.

Acupuncture treatments typically last about 30 minutes. In the case of simple, acute problems, one treatment may be enough. Chronic conditions usually require several treatments, administered about a week apart.

Ensuring Proper Care

In order to properly diagnose and treat pets’ conditions, veterinary acupuncturists should be licensed veterinarians who have received extensive training and passed a rigorous certification process. At Northwest Neighborhood Veterinary Hospital, our acupuncture treatments are administered by veterinarians who have been certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS).

Holistic Veterinary Therapies

Another effective treatment that has its origins in China is nutraceuticals. Also known as food therapy, this type of treatment utilizes herbal, plant, or whole-based food medicines.

Many typical drugs, such as aspirin, are originally derived from plants. Nutraceuticals takes this practice one step further, often using the entire plant to treat a patient’s condition; the idea being that we can potentially derive benefits from the plant’s other components and thereby increase its effectiveness.

Some examples of how nutraceuticals may be used include milk thistle for liver problems, cranberry for bladder infections, marshmallow root and tumeric for inflammation, and glucosamine for joint problems.

It’s important to note that while some of these treatments are also used for people, you should never give an herbal product to your pet without the advice of a trained veterinarian. Determining the proper dosage is essential, and some herbs that are fine for human consumption can be toxic to pets.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

While Chinese herbal veterinary medicine is less common, it is quickly becoming a popular way to treat pets that suffer from chronic conditions or aren’t responding to Western medicine. This treatment relies on herbal formulas that are produced by combining anywhere from three to fifteen herbs. These herbs are carefully chosen in order to balance out each other’s effects.

Research into these formulations has shown promising results when it comes to treating asthma, inflammation, and cancer, among other conditions. Because some Chinese herbs can be dangerous to pets, and they may also alter the effectiveness of prescribed medications, it’s best to consult with a trained veterinarian before administering them to your pet.

Northwest Neighborhood Veterinary Hospital is pleased to offer these alternative therapies to our pet patients. If you would like to learn more about these treatments, or schedule an appointment for your pet, please don’t hesitate to contact us!