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Acupuncture for treating large animals began nearly 3000 years ago in the Zhou dynasty, Records indicate that acupuncture continued to be used on horses until the 10th century, A.D. The focus of its use was on horses because they were so essential to the military. After the 10th century acupuncture is not mentioned in any of the major surviving texts. It is also important to note that there never were any charts, texts, or references regarding the treatment of dogs or cats with acupuncture.

 The origins of animal acupuncture were nearly 3000 years ago, but

the beginnings of western veterinary medicine were just over 400 years

ago. We know that most of this work in China ended around the 10th

Century A.D., and that animal acupuncture was not explored again in

China until 1976, 4 years after the re- introduction of animal acupuncture

that took place in the United States. The re-emergence of animal

acupuncture did not occur in Asia but in the United States, and it was

acupuncturists, not veterinarians, who introduced animal acupuncture

into the U.S., thereby re- introducing it to the world.​

It was not until 1972, when Dr. Gene Bruno and others brought the modality to the United States. Dr. Bruno was approved by the Veterinary Board to treat small animals and horses. He later worked to create the National Acupuncture Veterinary Association (NAVA) which was for Veterinarians who wanted to practice Animal Acupuncture. The members of NAVA later joined the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) when it was formed.

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From 1972 until 1976, Ottaviano and Bruno treated hundreds of horses and thousands of small animals. In 1973, they created the first modern acupuncture chart of an animal, the horse, where they used a numbering system to identify points. One of their goals at the time was to teach a core group of veterinarians the principals of Chinese medicine and acupuncture. At the time, there was no licensing for acupuncturists anywhere in the U.S. There were several veterinarians who were serious, and after working with us for a few years, began to treat animals with acupuncture on their own. 

In the summer of 1973, they created the National Association of Veterinary Acupuncture (NAVA). The goal of NAVA was to have, within a few years, veterinary teaching staff to train other interested veterinarians. In 1974/75, with the help from NAA’s Research Team and work by other veterinarians who were exploring acupuncture for animals, the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) was formed. These veterinarians referred to the system of points and treatment protocols that John Ottaviano and Gene Bruno developed as Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). 

The first complete course in animal acupuncture for licensed acupuncturists was developed and taught by acupuncturist Noreen Javornik, LAc, and her associates at Tai Sophia Institute in the late 1990’s. Currently, the only complete program is taught at the Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture in Arizona. In 1973, Gene Bruno, OMD, LAc, and Joel Rossen, DVM, established the American Board of Animal Acupuncture (ABAA). It is the only certification body for licensed acupuncturists practicing animal acupuncture. 


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