Veterinary Acupuncture

Listen to NPR’s Robbie Harris interviewing Dr. Lewter about acupuncture HERE

Acupuncture  is the medical process of treating specific points on the body with heat, pressure, needles, electrical stimulation, or injections for the purpose of achieving healing.  Healing takes place due to increased blood flow, endorphin neurotransmitter release, and balancing of energy meridians of the body.

The term acupuncture is derived from the Latin “acus” (needle) and “puncture” (to prick). According to ancient Chinese medical philosophy, human—or animal—disease occurs when there is an imbalance of energy in the body. To help the body heal itself, acupuncture attempts to re-balance energies by targeting a combination of very specific areas of the body known as acupuncture points. Physiologically speaking, the technique stimulates nerves, increases circulation, relieves muscle spasms and promotes therelease of endorphins. 


Injury, intervertebral disc disease, arthritis, allergies, skin problems, infertilty, nausea, cancer, immune system disorders, kidney disease, neuropathy, anorexia, laminitis, weakness and incontinence.


Expert holistic veterinarian, Dr Lewter says, “The postgraduate study of acupuncture has opened provided an avenue into another whole system of medicine that has stood the test of time for thousands of years. It has introduced me to the field of bioenergetic medicine, to the five element theory, and the immense field of traditional Chinese herbal medicine. My methods of diagnosis and patient evaluation have improved by the study of Chinese medicine and acupuncture.”

“Our Western medicine has its value in emergency care, critical care, and surgery. Chinese medicine and acupuncture has its value in chronic disease as well as early imbalances that lead to disease. Western medicine is reactive in that it treats disease after it has caused damage to the body. Chinese medicine can be used to complement Western methods in disease states. It can also treat proactively, by discovering imbalances before they turn into physical pathology. In this time of specialization, Chinese medicine brings all the parts back together as a whole, treating the energetics of the whole being.”

“ That is the beauty , to treat the patient, not the body part, for all parts including the spirit create the whole. In our country, we are fortunate to have many systems of medicine available for ourselves and our animals. I have participated in all areas of veterinary medicine, and Chinese medicine has been the most useful adjunct in my everyday practice. It just makes sense to offer these options to the patients in my area along with their conventional medical evaluations.” 


A simple explanation compares acupuncture treatments to electrical systems. After all, the body does have an electric field! When you flip a light switch, it may turn off a light in a distant part of the room, but we all know there is the invisible connection between the two parts. So it is with acupuncture, and that is why needles are not always places at the place where the problem seems to be!

Another biochemical explanation is that the acupuncture points contain a large number of capillaries and nerve endings. Stimulation of these points by needling , pressure, or electrical impulse will cause release of nerve signals and endorphins into the nervous system and bloodstream that have systemic effects on the body.

A third way acupuncture can be explained is by neuroanatomical connections where we are reminded that every body structure, including internal vital organs have a nerve supply and a blood supply that is governed by vascular constriction and dialation. All this nourishing blood flow is controlled by nerves that can be traced back to the spinal cord. Thus, this explains chiropractic benefits as well as acupuncture benefits by treating important points along the spinal column.


Conditions where you may seek acupuncture are back pain, paralysis, hip dysplasia, neck pain, allergies, skin conditions, immune mediated diseases, seizures, kidney disease, liver disease, and behavioral issues. Acupuncture may be performed with fine needles that don’t hurt a bit, or by injections of vitamin B-12 into the points, or sending electrical current through the points. Usually 2-10 needles are used and are left in place for 20 minutes.

When clients see their animals responding to acupuncture, they know that “believing in it” has nothing to do with the effects and that the effects are real. Sometimes several treatments are needed to get the Qi, or bioenergetic force, moving. Certain cases are not appropriate for acupuncture treatment, but may be better treated with homeopathy or chiropractic care. The vast majority treated with acupuncture will have some noticeable change after the first treatment!

Several treatments from an experienced holistic veterinarian at weekly intervals are usually recommended. Many cases will be started on herbal therapy and their acupuncture treatments will be reduced in frequency as the herbs start to maintain the patient. Some patients come back monthly for a treatment. Each case is individualized with respect to the owners schedule, the patient’s needs, and the condition being treated. For geriatric patients, acupuncture and herbs may be a long-term need. For other conditions, complete healing is expected and treatments are short- term. Nutrition will play a big role in maintenance of health for your animal companion.