What is Acupuncture?

“Acus” means needle, “pungare” means to pierce. In fact, in chinese the method is called Zhen Jiu. “Zhen” means needle; “Jiu” means moxibustion. Acupuncture is one of the most effective ancient methods based on traditional chinese medicine principles with the placement of very fine needles into specific points. It was used to treat a wide range of health conditions by manipulating body balance through regulation flow of Qi.

There are 3 essential factors in acupuncture

  1. Acupuncture point
  2. Stimulating methods – needling, aquapuncture, moxibustian, electrical and laser
  3. Therapeutic effects – mainly related to 1) Pain relieve; 2) stimulating nerve system; 3) immunity regulation;

A wide range of condition in animals that respond to acupuncture include:

  • Musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis, chronic lameness, intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Skin problem such as itchy skin, recurrence ears inflammation
  • Heart conditions
  • Respiratory condition such as coughing
  • Behavioural problem such as anxiety
  • Immune system and endocrine disorders


Is Acupuncture scientifically proven?

Veterinary acupuncture can be traced back to 947 to 928 BC and had been popularised in Western countries in the past 40 years. There were at least 173 acupoints discovered in animals. Modern research shows that acupoints are located in the areas where there is a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles and lymphatic vessels. Many studies indicate that stimulation of acupoints induce release of endorphin, serotonin and neutrotransmitters which play important role in pain relief. Total Medline cites for Acupuncture to Date represents over 7000 publications. It is a sound medical tool but it is important for the practitioner to be well-trained and certified.

Cindy Tan is a registered veterinarian and certified veterinary acupuncturist. She is also a member of Australian Veterinary Acupuncture Group (AVAG), a special interest group of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA).

How does acupuncture work?

All the needles being used are once use sterile disposable needles. Acupoints may be stimulated in a variety of ways. These techniques include:

  • Dry needling is the most common method by placement of a very dry needles into acupoint.
  • Aquapuncture means the injection of normal saline or diluted Vit B12 into acupuncture points.
  • Moxibustian means the method to heat up acupoint applied most commonly by moxa stick.
  • Electroacupuncture means the method to transmit an optimum electricity by special electroacupuncture machine via the needles in the acupoints.

How safe is acupuncture therapy?

Acupuncture is a very safe medical procedure when administered by a qualified practitioner. Very few side effects have been found in clinical cases.

Does acupuncture hurt?

A proper acupuncture therapy may induce distention, and a heaviness sensation along with contraction of local muscle. Most patients are comfortable with acupuncture therapy. Some animals will fall asleep during acupuncture treatment. Sedation is not needed and not recommended as it may interfere with the acupuncture effect.

How many treatments are needed?

It depends upon the nature and severity of the disease. A single treatment may be enough for some acute cases. An average of 3 to 10 treatments can resolve many chronic problems. Some condition such as degenerative conditions may need treatments over time, usually monthly.


If you have any enquiry about acupuncture therapy in your pet, please don’t hesitate to phone Dr. Cindy Tan for further discussion at 07 3102 2538



Archie on acupuncture
Some patients feel so comfortable that might fall asleep during acupuncture therapy.


Electroacupuncture is commonly used in paralysis treatment. This patient had IVDD grade 3 from acute trauma episode. He was able to walk at the third acupuncture session, in addition to a Chinese herb formula and strict confinement.