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Will Acupuncture Treat Anxiety?

Anxiety. This is not an uncommon situation for clients to ask me to modify thru acupuncture. The answer to whether acupuncture will be effective for a specific patient comes down to this: What’s the source of the anxiety? If a pet is anxious due to what I like to call a “training deficit”, acupuncture is very unlikely to be effective. A dog who has never learned how to deal with being placed in the crate, or who has never been taught how to be happily separated from their owners, or who has never been taught how to share toys or allow owners to handle their food - these are all examples of “training deficits” that would see better response from a behaviorist consultation than physical medicine. Outside this group, there are canine patients of mine that seem to have an overactive sympathetic nervous system and are generally more anxious - these patients have experienced a wonderful response to acupuncture that is a joy to witness.

Dash, a 5 year old Weimerianer/Doberman mix, is my patient poster child for anxiety that responds to acupuncture. Before I began treatments he would bark at anything noisy that drove by the house such as motorcycles or trucks. Car rides were a nightmare as he would literally hurl himself against the windows of the car and howl incessantly. After just one acupuncture treatment of a regiment of “calming points”, Dash made it five days without barking at anything! After several more weekly treatments he now rarely pays attention to anything on the street and is a champ when riding in the car!

If considering trying acupuncture for anxiety, the best recommendation I have is to first have your pet evaluated by your regular veterinarian for any medical issues that could be contributing to their condition. A consultation with a behaviorist may be beneficial as well. At the end of the day, a few acupuncture treatments certainly won’t hurt and may help a dog with anxiety if you are unsure if caused by “training deficit” or otherwise.

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