It’s been a while since our last blog post, and we’re excited to share that we’re starting a new blog series! We are speaking with local businesses in the pet industry to provide knowledge on topics within the pet care field. For our first story in this series, we touched based with Caitlin Isbister of Pet Acupuncture Works (PAW) in the Greater Boston area to learn about pet acupuncture. Read on to find out more information from the expert herself!

What is pet acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a safe technique which involves the insertion and stimulation of extremely thin, single-use needles into specific points on the pet. There are over 300 acupuncture points which are situated on interconnected pathways, or channels, which extend from head to tail. Acupuncture is used to bring about a balance in energy, or Qi, throughout the body, and help all parts of the body interact more effectively. This aids in the healing process. Various factors contribute to a lack of circulation in the body, such as diet, stress, trauma, and aging.

Lexy’s anxiety being relieved during a treatment with Pet Acupuncture Works
What is pet acupuncture used to treat?

Acupuncture helps pets who are experiencing low appetite, low energy, and those who have respiratory, digestive and urinary disorders. A large focus of my practice is to increase the mobility in pets. I treat animals with stiffness, lameness and pain originating from arthritis, hip and elbow dysplasia, and other conditions. Treatment decreases inflammation, increases the blood flow in the body, and decreases muscle tension and joint pain. It can also help mitigate side effects from chemotherapy in pets. Pet parents often report an increase in energy, appetite, and playfulness after acupuncture. They tend to be happier overall!

Is acupuncture beneficial for all pets or just those with a particular condition?

Most pets can benefit from acupuncture and, in general, most cooperate well with the treatment. However, if the cat or dog is aggressive or agitated, it may not be the best fit as they will be unlikely to keep the needles in for the required 10-30 minutes. I, of course, do not want to cause them further anxiety!

How often is treatment recommended?

Typically I steer pet parents towards weekly sessions for their pup or cat for at least six weeks, and then I re-evaluate. The effect of the treatments is cumulative. After the pet is about 70-80% better, I recommend biweekly treatments and then monthly for a few months for maintenance. The highest form of Chinese medicine is prevention, so often I see my pet patients every few months to head off other disorders and to keep them as healthy as possible.

How do you prepare pets for an acupuncture treatment?

During the session, I have the pet’s parent sit nearby to help relax the dog or cat. Usually I do some calming points on the head or near the shoulders at the beginning of the treatment. I keep the needles in for about 10-15 minutes for a cat, and for 15-30 minutes for a dog. Afterward, I reward them with one (or five) treats!

Are there any side effects to pet acupuncture?

Acupuncture regulates digestion and urination, so sometimes they will have to go outside (or in the litter box) after the treatment. Sometimes the animals will get a nice nap afterwards as well.

How long have you been performing acupuncture for?

I have treated humans for about 10 years and dogs and cats for about seven.

Do you travel to the client’s home?

Currently I only do home visits for pets, which works out well for the pet and their mom and/or dad. They do not have to deal with the stress of taking them somewhere in the car— especially when they may be in pain. The pet will be more comfortable in their own home as well! I travel to Somerville, Medford, Cambridge, Lexington, Arlington, Malden, Melrose, and more.

Thank you so much, Caitlin for your time and for providing us and our readers with valuable information about pet acupuncture!

*If you’re interested in setting your pet up for an acupuncture treatment with Caitlin, mention this blog for $10 off! You can visit her website here, and she can be reached at (518) 669-1233 or 

A relaxed Sir Boreas during his treatment with PAW