The answer is… most of the time.
I am asked this question frequently. Acupuncture causes the release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters so many animals find the procedure very relaxing and some will even fall asleep. Some animals just tolerate the treatment, and look as if they humoring me by sitting still. These guys do well with petting, encouragement and sometimes a treat or two.
The vast minority of animals resist the treatment. Sometimes it is the needles, sometimes the pet just doesn’t like being kept still. If an animal resists the needles, I try my LEPT (Low Energy Photon Therapy) Unit. This unit uses light (as a stream of photons) to stimulate an acupuncture point electrically. The goal is to achieve levels of stimulation which the brain cannot ignore. I have had good success with this treatment method and will sometimes use it in combination with needles. The LEPT units comes in handy when I work on cats and want to target points on their legs or feet.
I have only really had one animal (a cat) who completely resisted treatment. If it gets to the point where an animal is stressed out, acupuncture is likely not a treatment that will be of benefit.
** The top picture is ‘Kahuna’, a 120 lb Malamute who completely relaxed while receiving acupuncture for seizures. The middle picture is ‘Nightmare’ who is receiving treatment for a sore shoulder. I was worried when contacted by the owner – I was a bit nervous to work on a 17 lb cat named ‘Nightmare’. I am very thankful he does not live up to his name! The last picture is ‘Luke’, a sweet Cavalier who had two separate back surgeries last fall when he was only 18 months old. His owners are using a combination of massage, hydrotherapy and acupuncture to expedite his improvement.