COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – an update for our clients.

Veterinary Acupuncture for pets - a natural pain relief option

Acupuncture can be used to provide a natural form of pain relief when introduced as part of a multimodal approach to pain management. It can be particularly helpful if your pet is difficult to medicate, has side effects from medications, or has shown a less than ideal response to medication alone.

Read our clients’ frequently asked questions below to learn more.

Talk to us about booking an acupuncture appointment


Why we use acupuncture at Garston Vets

Acupuncture is the placement of fine needles through the skin at specific points of the animal’s body in order to alleviate pain. It has been practiced for thousands of years on humans in traditional Chinese medicine and is now widely understood by western science. Acupuncture on animals can only be performed by a veterinary surgeon trained in veterinary acupuncture.

Mainly used on cats & dogs, veterinary acupuncture is known to:

  • Modify pain pathways in the brain and spinal cord to activate the central nervous system’s natural pain-blocking mechanisms.
  • Stimulate the release of serotonin and dopamine which are important neurotransmitters involved in behaviour, cognition, sleep, and wellbeing.
  • Stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to normalise processes and promote healing.

The identification and needling of myofascial trigger points (tight knots in muscle) can also relieve muscle spasm and target both local and referred pain. Acupuncture treatment should always be used after accurate diagnosis and usually in addition to conventional veterinary medicine. Acupuncture therapy can help to reduce the need for medications or allow reduced doses in some cases.

Some of the conditions we treat with acupuncture:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Muscle sprain & ligament damage
  • Neck and back pain
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Acral Lick Dermatitis
  • Anxiety and some other behavioural issues

Veterinary Acupuncture FAQs

Will acupuncture hurt my pet?

Most animals tolerate acupuncture very well and hardly notice the needles being placed. Occasionally a needle will provoke a mild reaction, however, this is short-lived and then the animal commonly relaxes. Veterinary acupuncture is very safe, most pets become very relaxed and may even fall asleep.

How do the sessions work?

The initial appointment lasts approximately 45 minutes and allows for a thorough evaluation of your pet’s history, current medications, clinical examination, gait analysis, and the building of an acupuncture treatment plan. In most cases, the first acupuncture treatment will be given in the initial appointment. Subsequent appointments usually last around 20-30 minutes and each treatment is tailored to your pet’s individual needs on that particular day.

How often will my pet need acupuncture?

Typically, cats and dogs are started with three acupuncture treatments at weekly intervals and are then assessed to ascertain whether they are benefiting from this type of therapy. The effects of acupuncture are cumulative, this means greater effects are seen after repeated sessions. If there is no benefit seen after three sessions then we will stop acupuncture therapy. Sessions usually run weekly for 4-6 weeks and depending on the pet and condition being treated, we may reduce the frequency of sessions or revisit with a further course after a period of time.

How will I know if the acupuncture is working?

Approximately 75% of pets will respond to veterinary acupuncture, most commonly we will see an improvement in demeanour and mobility. Initially, the effect is short-lived, but with repeated sessions, the effect should last longer and your animal will become more comfortable.

How much is veterinary acupuncture?

  • Initial appointment ……£75 (approximately 45 minutes)
  • Subsequent sessions ….£55 (approximately 20-30 minutes)

Where can my pet have acupuncture?

Acupuncture sessions are currently being offered in our Trowbridge veterinary practice in Wiltshire. We are also happy to treat patients that are not registered with us but have consent from their own veterinary practice.


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