Acupuncture for pets? Yes, it’s a thing

A miniature dachshund receives acupuncture therapy from a veterinarian (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
A miniature dachshund receives acupuncture therapy from a veterinarian (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Credit: Adam Pretty

Credit: Adam Pretty

Dr. Johnna Smith loved her traditional veterinary work but wanted to offer clients something more.

>> Read more trending news

“I was finding I was getting frustrated with cases I couldn’t help. There wasn’t a success rate I would like to have,” she said, pointing to older dogs with conditions such as arthritis and kidney disease.

With that in mind and four years of traditional practice behind her, Smith, decided to pursue alternative medicine for dogs and cats. The graduate of the Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine worked toward acupuncture certification taking online courses and traveling to Florida for a year before receiving that certification through The Chi Institute in Reddick, Florida., in 2012.

In 2016 Smith finished a two-year course for additional certification in Chinese herbal medicine from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.

The vast majority of Smith’s clients have arthritis, back issues and torn ACLs along with allergies and skin conditions.

Acupuncture also can be used in cancer treatment. “We can’t cure patients, but tell people upfront it can help with quality of life while going through treatment,” she said.

The basic focus of acupuncture is blood flow and use of acupuncture points to cause more or less blood flow. Acupuncture points are located across the animal’s body.

During a June visit, Smith treated a dog whose owners traveled from Miamisburg to continue acupuncture treatment started 18 months ago for allergies.

Sassy, the pet of Doug and Mary Horn, stood quietly as Smith placed 14 acupuncture needles in her body. After around 20 minutes, the needles were removed and the Horns were on their way. Mary Horn said she recommends the treatment. “It really works,” she said.

The treatment “works best when incorporated early and in conjunction with traditional medicine,” Smith said.

Most animals take the treatment very well, although each is different, depending on the demeanor and their specific condition. The number and frequency of treatments also vary.

Contact this contributing writer at