Animal Acupuncture

Today’s alternative healing modality is animal acupuncture. As I mentioned in my post about NAET, I’ve been getting acupuncture for allergies for over a year, and it’s helping! And even though I always think the needles hurt going in, the feeling afterwards is totally worth the pain. I feel awake and alert and incredibly calm at the same time.

What Is Acupuncture?

Yin YangAcupuncture is a part of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and has been practiced for thousands of years. In TCM, the body (and the entire universe) is considered to consist of two opposing forces – yin and yang.

Yin represents femaleness, the moon, cold, slow, darkness, passive, etc. and Yang represents maleness, the sun, heat, active, light, active, etc.

Yin and yang are in a constant cycle, and when they are in perfect balance, you are healthy. When they are not, the energy flow (qi) in the body gets blocked and you experience Acupunctureillness or pain.

A TCM practitioner (such as an acupuncturist) will take many things into consideration when figuring out the cause of the imbalance, and which points to treat.

To decide how to best treat the patient in order to restore balance, the practitioner will ask questions, observe the patient (both appearance and demeanor), listen and smell, and palpate (touching and taking the pulse).

Once a diagnosis has been made, the treatment can begin. The practitioner inserts very fine needles into specific points along the meridians (energy paths that run throughout the body – explained more in depth in this acupressure post) to remove the blockages.

It may take many or only a few visits to achieve results, but once the blockages are gone, the yin/yang balance (and consequently health) is restored.

Meet Becca Seitz

Becca Seitz, Animal AcupunctureThe animal acupuncture case studies in today’s post comes to us from Becca Seitz, MAcOM, LAc, founder and owner of Thrive Acupuncture in Portland, OR.

Becca discovered acupuncture by chance. While in college, with plans to become a vet, she all of a sudden started experiencing incredibly dry eyes. She stopped wearing contact lenses, but even so, it eventually got so bad it became unbearable.

Becca describes it as “similar to the feeling you have when you have slept with your contacts in. They’re dry, they’re sticking to your eyeballs and you can’t WAIT to get those suckers out!”

Her ophthalmologist eventually discovered that her eyeballs were covered in little bumps, caused by allergies. Becca tried every eye drop on the market without getting any relief. She says “I couldn’t stand to keep my eyes open because they would feel like they were drying out, and I couldn’t stand to keep them closed because it felt like there was sand in my eyes. I was left squinting and rubbing my eyes constantly.”

Her Dr. suggested taking Benadryl every day, which wasn’t an ideal solution – if you’ve tried it, you know it makes you sleepy or just weird, and not staying awake all day was not an option for Becca, with full time school and part time work.

As luck would have it, her chiropractor shared an office with an acupuncturist, and Becca, feeling she had nothing to lose, gave it a shot. Within 2 weeks, her eyes had improved dramatically, and after a month, she was back to her old self again.

This was a life-changing experience on several levels for Becca. Before experiencing acupuncture for herself, she had always considered the results from acupuncture a placebo effect, but she knew now that was not the case. She not only became a believer in acupuncture, she also changed her plans and decided that instead of becoming a vet, she would become an acupuncturist. She now practices reflexology, Chinese herbs and acupuncture for animals (and humans) at her clinic in Portland.

We have two case studies today, where Becca treats a dog and a cat with combinations of acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

Tilly – A Dog With Severe Allergies

Tilly, a 5-year old Boston Terrier/English Bulldog mix, came into the office with a history of skin allergies.

She was allergic to many things, including several food ingredients as well as grass. Her skin was bright red, swollen and abraded from her constant scratching. Her vet had been giving her cortisone injections since she was only 2 months old to help ease the itching, but it had little effect. She was given Benadryl daily in another attempt to calm her itching skin. Nothing worked, and neither Tilly nor her owner had been sleeping well due to all of her scratching.

On the first visit, Tilly was diagnosed as having an excess of dampness and heat in her body (she was so damp and hot that her skin even felt moist to the touch!). Acupuncture was performed to address the underlying cause as well as relieve her symptoms. She was also sent home with an appropriate Chinese herbal formula.

The following week, Tilly came in and the redness and swelling were almost completely resolved! The rash was no longer covering her entire body, but was limited to her abdomen and hind legs, and her skin felt dry and much cooler. Her owner even reported that Tilly had been sleeping through the night for the first time!

After a few more appointments, the rash and itching were gone.

Grendel – A Paralyzed Cat

Grendel the black and white male kitty came in to me with his hind legs paralyzed. He had been diagnosed as having had an embolism that went to his legs.

We did electroacupuncture on his low back to stimulate energy flow to his hind legs, but our main focus of treatment was through Chinese herbs and a formula used frequently to treat strokes.

Within a week Grendel was able to jerk his legs away when we pinched his toes. After 3 or 4 weeks he was able to get around the house to get to his food and litterbox. While he never did regain normal function, he at least seemed happy that he was mobile and could get to his owner for pets!

Cattie Coyle

Cattie Coyle

Founder and Editor at Animal Wellness Guide
Cattie is the founder and editor of Animal Wellness Guide. She is a freelance photographer, graduate of Bancroft School of Massage Therapy’s small animal program, and has studied Applied Zoopharmacognosy. Learn more about Cattie
Cattie Coyle
Happy Midsummer (lots of celebrating going on in Sweden today) and Happy Anniversary… - 3 days ago


  1. says

    I love the fact that these treatments are being more available for animals. I think that as more professionals recognize this, we will have a better understanding of the benefits they recieve.

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