Acupuncture involves the placement of extremely fine needles through the skin and into the muscles of animals. The needles are so thin that they usually cause little or no discomfort to the pet. The body, however, recognises that something is happening and the brain responds by releasing more natural pain killers into the blood stream. Only veterinary surgeons are legally allowed to treat animals in the UK. The type of acupuncture that we perform at Eastgate Vets is called the ‘Western’ or ‘Scientific’ Method.


What can it treat?

  • Arthritis
  • Muscular or ligament injuries/strains
  • Other painful conditions e.g. after surgery
  • Some chronic conditions e.g. urinary incontinence


What are the benefits of acupuncture over other therapies?

  • Not drugs so especially good if your pet can’t tolerate certain medication (however animals must be on appropriate analgesia if required)
  • You may be able to reduce the amount of pain killing drugs that your pet needs
  • No/minimal side effects (your pet may be a little sleepy after a session)
  • Eventually your pet may need just monthly treatments
  • Many pets find acupuncture pleasurable & relaxing
  • Immunity can be boosted and an increase in the general vitality and happiness of the pet is often reported
  • You can use acupuncture alongside any other therapy


What happens in an appointment?

  • Your first appointment will last 30-40 minutes
  • The vet will assess your pet thoroughly. If the problem is orthopaedic the examination will concentrate on finding out which areas are painful. They will look for ‘trigger points’ which are regions of muscle that spasm or are tight when palpated.
  • The vet places acupuncture needles into these trigger points. The needles are of varying lengths and thicknesses according to where they are going but are all very fine.
  • Once all the needles are placed they are manipulated either by gently pushing them in and out or by twisting them.
  • We can’t ask pets how it feels to have acupuncture but in humans there are generally three different sensations: 1) warmth radiating out from the needle 2) mild buzzy or electric sensation or 3) relaxation.
  • The needles are removed and all accounted for (usually whilst your pet gets lots of treats.)

What happens after?

  • Your pet may feel sleepy after a session, sometimes not until the next day There may be little or no response from the first session if the condition being treated is chronic, however in acutely painful pets you often notice an improvement in the first week. Your pet returns weekly for up to 4 weeks. These sessions are usually 20 minutes but may be longer if your pet needs a lot of needles placed.
  • Normally we will see a response by week 3. If acupuncture is having the desired effect on your pet by week 4 the frequency of sessions is reduced. Usually we go to every 2 weeks for a couple of sessions and then every month. Most animals are maintained on monthly ’top-up’ sessions.

If by week 4 there is no improvement then other therapies are reconsidered.


Please speak to our receptionists if you would like to book a session of acupuncture. Make sure that you tell them if this is your pet’s first session with us so they can book out enough time. Because acupuncture takes a considerable amount of time and skill we charge appropriately. Feel free to ask the current prices.

If you are worried that your pet may not enjoy acupuncture and so would like a ‘taster’ session, in which we place a few needles as a trial, this can be arranged with our acupuncturists directly for just a minimum fee. Please call to discuss.