How Much Does Acupuncture for a Dog Cost?

Written by: Staff

While not commonly known, there is acupuncture which can be helpful for dogs.  Acupuncture that is done for dogs usually helps with pain or joint problems, such as arthritis.  This procedure is usually performed by a professional veterinarian, and the cost of a session will vary depending on the clinic and the length of the session.

Canine Acupuncture by Musespeak, on Flickr
Canine Acupuncture” (CC BY 2.0) by  Musespeak

How much does acupuncture for a dog cost?

Each acupuncture session will generally last 15 minutes to more than an hour.  On average, this session is going to cost anywhere from $50 to as much as $225.  Some veterinarians will recommend that more than one session. claims the average session can be $25 to $120 for a 15 to a 120-minute session.  The average dog will need about eight sessions.

Acupuncture for a dog overview

Consultation, as well as the session, is going to be included in the price range mentioned above.

Vets are going to recommend acupuncture for dogs older than eight since it is a great procedure for dogs that have conditions such as arthritis and hip problems.

During the procedure, the vet will insert special needles in specific points on the body that cause a healing effect.  These needles will help redirect the body’s energy, which is known as chi, and it will also release endorphins, which control the pain.  This technique has been used in countries such as China for more than 3,000 years.

Vets may use four techniques:  dry insertion, using a needle with electricity, aqua-puncture or moxabustion.   Dry insertion is the most common procedure, and the vet will simply insert the needles directly into the skin.  If needles with electricity will be used, small electrodes will be hooked up to the needles to help stimulate the nerves.  Aqua-puncture will contain herbs and will be injected directly into the body.  Lastly, moxabustion will combine the needles and a warm Chinese herb to provide heat.

The number of needles needed will depend on the dog’s condition, size and problem.  Some areas may require a few needles, while other areas could require more than 30.  Each dog will vary.

Acupuncture sessions can help with arthritis, spasms, disk problems, digestive problems, kidney diseases, hip dysplasia, paralysis, respiratory problems, kidney problems and a weakened immune system.

What are the extra costs?

Sedation-based medicines may be administered if the dog tends to move around a lot.

More than one session may be required for your dog to feel better.  Keep in mind that acupuncture generally doesn’t cure problems such as arthritis.  Instead, it will provide temporary relief.

If the problem is greater than expected, the vet may recommend additional medicine or even surgery.

Tips to know:

The needles will be shorter than a half inch and will be thinner than a cat’s whisker.

Before taking your dog to any vet, be sure to see if they are certified with acupuncture.  To find a vet in your area, who is certified, visit the official American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association website. If your vet can’t do it, they may be able to make a referral as well.

For dog owners who have a dog that is older that eight years old, it may be best to take your dog in twice a year, especially if they are suffering from conditions such as arthritis and joint problems.

Most of the time, dogs will find that these needles are going to be rather painless; however, if the needles are used in an area with a knot or spasm, it may be slightly uncomfortable.  If you feel your dog is going to react funny, it’s best to consult with a vet to see what he or she recommends.

There are 173 acupuncture points in animals and are located where there is a high density of nerve endings.

Dogs that tend to stress or are aggressive may not be a great candidate.

How can I save money?

Acupuncture isn’t always necessary.  Since acupuncture isn’t generally practiced on dogs, consider other options.  While improvements may be seen after a few weeks, the problem may come back after time.  Dog owners often resort to this procedure when surgery isn’t an option due to their age.

Optional herbal remedies are available if you feel your dog may not adapt well to the needles.  Many dog owners find that the sessions simply aren’t worth it.

The first session is going to cost the most money.  If you plan on taking your dog to more than one session, talk with the vet to see if they can offer any type of discount.

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Average Reported Cost: $100

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Less Expensive $1 $1.5K $3K $5K $6.5K More Expensive $8k

How much did you spend?

Was it worth it?  

  1. James (St Paul,  Minnesota) paid $50 and said:

    My local vet charged me $50 for about 20-30 minutes. Was this fair?

    Was it worth it? Yes

  2. Carol Sloan (Sacramento,  California) paid $50 and said:

    to show better bowel formations. He wagged his tail and moved his hind legs after being with paralysis. He has what so many doxies have, back problems. He injured his back trying to jump up on astool to get to my bed.

    Was it worth it? Yes

  3. Tree Marcelynas (Seattle,  Washington) paid $200 and said:

    The initial intake with the one hour physical exam (via her hands) is still listed at approx $200, then you add another $85 for the first acupuncture session. If you get prescribed (as this is a licensed vet and can prescribe drugs or herbs) herbs that will be an additional cost. My herbs are 10 dollars a gram, I usually got 3 grams. My dog has hypothyroidism secondary to Cushings disease via a pituitary tumor.

    So life’s a challenge for us. I turned to this alternative vet for some support for my baby’s skin and fur and body. I have not seen any difference, in fact she got worse while we farted around. I wish I had just gone to the conventional doctor and I am upset that I wasn’t directed to head there by this vet. I feel like I have been milked for money and I do not get any information or help I don’t request. Waste of a LOT of money thus far.

    Was it worth it? Yes

  4. Maggie (Colorado Springs,  Colorado) paid $100 and said:

    For the past 18 months my 14 year old Sheltie has received semi-monthly acupuncture with electrical stimulation followed by laser therapy. After the acupuncture, the vet applies mild massage to further loosen the muscles and determine if the tension and pain were relieved by the acupuncture session. This course of treatment eases his spinal pain greatly, allowing him to walk normally rather than the awkward hobbling gait caused by pain and muscle spasms. The cost for each full 3-part treatment is $100. Worth every penny! The treatments have extended his life so that he will someday die of a natural cause and not have to be euthanized because of unbearable pain and immobility. As a side note, he was not getting any exercise at all when we began treatment sessions and the vet said if I didn’t start walking him 3-5 times per week he would have to be put down within a year. We also got his weight down to slightly below “ideal” for his breed/size and began doing stretching exercises 2-3 times a day (look up “cookie stretches”).

    Was it worth it? Yes

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