A scoping review of the evidence for efficacy of acupunture in companion animals


Acupuncture has become increasingly popular in veterinary medicine. Within the scientific literature there is debate regarding its efficacy. Due to the complex nature of acupuncture, a scoping review was undertaken to identify and categorize the evidence related to acupuncture in companion animals (dogs, cats, and horses). Our search identified 843 relevant citations. Narrative reviews represented the largest proportion of studies (43%). We identified 179 experimental studies and 175 case reports/case series that examined the efficacy of acupuncture. Dogs were the most common subjects in the experimental trials. The most common indication for use was musculoskeletal conditions, and the most commonly evaluated outcome categories among experimental trials were pain and cardiovascular parameters. The limited number of controlled trials and the breadth of indications for use, outcome categories, and types of acupuncture evaluated present challenges for future systematic reviews or meta-analyses. There is a need for high-quality randomized controlled trials addressing the most common clinical uses of acupuncture, and using consistent and clinically relevant outcomes, to inform conclusions regarding the efficacy of acupuncture in companion animals.

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