Acupuncture has gained popularity in human medicine in the western world to treat a litany of diseases. But did you know that pets may be able to benefit from these treatments too? While acupuncture for dogs isn’t a one-size-fits-all option for every pet, it could be a great option for dogs experiencing chronic pain.
Let’s cover the basics of acupuncture, when and why veterinarians use it, and how much it may cost you.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture has been around for centuries in China and East Asia to take care of domestic animals and people. In America, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) specialists who are trained specifically to work with animals can be found all over the country.¹ Ancient Chinese physicians from the Daoist tradition discovered that if needles were carefully placed on certain points of the body, they could stimulate the body to heal itself.
Nowadays, acupuncture principles are blended with modern Western medicine to help patients manage everything from stress to cancer treatment. TCVM specialists blend the best of both worlds by working with your regular vet to provide a drug-free care tool for your dog. Pet parents can benefit from the precision of Western medicine and the holistic nature of acupuncture.
Conditions Acupuncture May Help Treat
Acupuncture is traditionally used to treat chronic pain so you may think this is reserved for dog injuries. But acupuncture for dogs has been used to treat many conditions, including:
- Side effects from cancer treatments
- Cushing’s disease
- Addison’s disease
- Physical trauma (car accidents, animal bites, etc.)
- Atopic dermatitis
- Granulomas (lick dermatitis)
- Gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, constipation, etc.)
- Idiopathic epilepsy
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. If you’re curious about if your pet is a good candidate for acupuncture, talk with your vet. They may be able to refer you to a veterinary acupuncture specialist in your neighborhood who may set up a consultation appointment to discuss your dog’s needs.
How Much Is Acupuncture For Dogs?
The cost of acupuncture for dogs depends on where you live and the specialist you go to. According to Thervo’s data, veterinary acupuncture can range anywhere between $25 – $120 per session. Some dog parents can expect to spend between $65 – $85 on average.²
Keep in mind that these costs vary based on your dog’s size, health condition, and any additional labor costs. Vets may also charge you extra if your dog is aggressive or difficult to handle during sessions. Be sure to chat with your specialist about their specific prices and fees before agreeing to their services.
Does Acupuncture for Dogs Work?
Acupuncture for dogs could benefit their health, but seeing results can be a slow process. Acupuncture – like most holistic treatments – can take many sessions before you may see improvements in your pet’s medical conditions. It could also take longer to see improvements if your dog’s health has been in bad shape for a while.
Another thing to keep in mind is that dogs experiencing chronic pain often need several forms of pain management, and acupuncture can be a supplement to other methods. For example, a dog who has arthritis may need supplements, veterinarian care, and acupuncture to ensure they have a good quality of life.
Pet parents should expect to spend a few weeks working with their specialist to find a care plan that works for their dog. Holistic care options may not be a solution for every pet so be sure to discuss all your options with your licensed vet first.
What To Expect From a Veterinary Acupuncturist
At your first appointment, your specialist will likely take some time to get to know you and your pet, and request medical records from your primary vet. Depending on your dog’s medical condition, they may request additional X-rays or digital images to guide their care plan.
Once they have a plan, the specialist will likely place the needles along your pet’s meridian lines. Then you’ll wait a few minutes before the needles are removed. Dogs usually don’t experience pain during acupuncture sessions, but they may be stiff or tired following an appointment.3
Some pets find the experience relaxing and most don’t experience side effects from acupuncture treatments at all. Acupuncturists will typically follow up with pet parents to check on their dogs to help address any concerns and potential side effects.
Let MetLife Pet Insurance Ease Your Pain Points
Our dogs may live longer, healthier lives thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine. Acupuncture and other holistic treatments can be helpful options that are available to pet parents. However, it can get costly if your pet is experiencing chronic pain and needs multiple sessions to see results.
That’s when dog insurance with MetLife Pet Insurance can step in. We have policies that could cover up to 100% of acupuncture treatments and any affiliated costs, like X-rays and exam fees.4 Find out how much you could be reimbursed by getting a free quote!
Protect your Dog
¹ “Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (Overview),” Chi University
² “How Much Does Acupuncture Cost? (2023),” Thervo
3 “Acupuncture/Acupressure for Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals
4 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.
Coverage underwritten and issued by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 or Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations. Application is subject to underwriting review. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC for details. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator for this coverage. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).