Ratification Date: 01 Nov 2010
There is significant diversity of opinion within the veterinary profession regarding scientific evidence in support of the efficacy of veterinary acupuncture. The AVA encourages appropriately designed and conducted studies to help identify those situations and applications of acupuncture that may benefit veterinary patients.
Veterinarians have a duty to provide the best available care for their patients and to be aware of all treatment options. They also have a duty to select treatment options based on the best available evidence.
Veterinarians may choose to use or refer a patient for acupuncture as an adjunctive treatment on animal patients after a full diagnostic workup and informed owner consent. Acupuncture on animals involving skin penetration using needles or the injection of substances should only be performed by registered veterinarians who have appropriate training.
Acupuncture by definition is the insertion of needles into specific points on the body. In addition to the insertion of acupuncture needles, other methods of stimulating acupuncture points are acupressure, aquapuncture, gold bead implants, and laser or electro-acupuncture. It is incumbent upon veterinarians practising acupuncture that they follow sound principles of evidence-based medicine.
Training of veterinarians to perform acupuncture is available through several programs and teaching institutions. The AVA encourages veterinarians who utilise acupuncture in their clinical practice to undertake appropriate training programmes as recommended by the Australian Veterinary Acupuncture Group.
These guidelines form the minimum requirements of veterinary acupuncture practitioners:
- Acupuncture should not be used to the exclusion of routine clinical treatments that are indicated in the individual case and the owner should be informed of all possible treatment options before a course of acupuncture is given.
- A full patient history should be obtained.
- Acupuncture treatment should only be given after a veterinary diagnostic investigation has been completed. This process should include any other diagnostic procedures deemed appropriate.
- Owner’s consent should be recorded in the patient record.
- The patient should be re-evaluated at each subsequent treatment taking into consideration the owner’s observations and the patient’s response.
- Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with veterinary medical or surgical procedures.
- Veterinarians performing acupuncture must use sterile single use acupuncture needles for each animal.
- Animals being treated with acupuncture should not routinely be sedated.
- Animals being treated with acupuncture should not be left unattended with needles in situ. At the end of the treatment all needles should be accounted for as they are removed and disposed of appropriately in sharps containers.
- Veterinarians should not use or advertise acupuncture as one of their services unless they are suitably trained.
- Veterinary acupuncturists accepting referrals from other veterinarians should follow the AVA policy on veterinary referrals.
Other relevant policies or position statements
- American Veterinary Medical Association. Guidelines for complementary and alternative veterinary medicine: https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/AVMA-Guidelines-for-Complementary-and-Alternative-Veterinary-Medicine.aspx updated Jan 2014
- Australian Medical Association, Position Statement – Complementary Medicine. https://ama.com.au/position-statement/ama-position-statement-complementary-medicine-2018 Accessed June 2019