Acupuncture prevents relapses of recurrent otitis in dogs: a 1-year follow-up of a randomised controlled trial

Acupunct Med. 2011 Mar;29(1):21-6. doi: 10.1136/aim.2010.002576. Epub 2011 Jan 18.


Background: Recurrent infections within a particular, well-localised body location are often seen in veterinary and medical practice. This condition could represent a localised or segmental immune deficiency. Recurrent canine otitis seems to be one example of this problem. It has been reported that acupuncture increased the efficacy of conventional treatment for canine otitis by >50%.

Objective: To assess whether the relapse rate of recurrent canine otitis over 1 year can be modified by acupuncture in adult dogs.

Methods: One-year follow-up of a randomised controlled trial. 31 dogs with a history of recurring otitis were randomised into two groups. In addition to conventional treatment, each group received four sessions of either real acupuncture, group A (n=16), or sham acupuncture, group B (n=15). The main outcome for the follow-up was the rate of acute otitis episodes in each group over 1 year, with blinded evaluation. A χ(2) test was used for statistical analysis.

Results: There was one dropout in each group. Fourteen (93%) dogs in group A: were free of otitis relapses, compared with 7 (50%) in group B (p<0.01).

Conclusion: Acupuncture seems effective for preventing relapses in cases of recurrent canine otitis. This result suggests that acupuncture could be tested as a treatment of other recurrent localised infections. Given the ability of acupuncture to modulate neurotransmitters and opioid peptides, which can in turn modulate the immune system, the immune response to acupuncture also seems worth exploring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points
  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods
  • Acupuncture Therapy / veterinary*
  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Dog Diseases / therapy*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Male
  • Otitis Media / therapy*
  • Otitis Media / veterinary*
  • Random Allocation
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Treatment Failure