A veterinarian can receive certification in veterinary acupuncture, or a CVA designation, after taking courses approved by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and completing a certain number of observation hours with a certified veterinary acupuncturist. He or she also must write a case report suitable for publication and pass a test. Typically, the basic course is 180 hours or more, according to Susan Wynn, president of the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture.

Her organization also offers advanced training — and a rigorous examination — for the designation Fellow of the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture. “If you see ‘FAAVA’ after someone’s name, they have done a great deal of additional study,’’ Wynn says.

Fairfax vet Jordan Kocen says that veterinary acupuncture is growing in popularity and credibility. Several veterinary colleges now offer acupuncture in their clinics as well as introductory courses for their students, he says. Also, more pet owners are seeking it, he says.

“My experience is that conventional vets are more likely to support their clients who want to try it — what I call a ‘passive referral’ — and more are actively referring patients because they have seen the results in other patients,’’ he says.

Needles dot the hide of a female Lab, Hershey, who receives regular acupuncture treatment for her weak back legs and incontinence at South Paws vet clinic in Fairfax. (Dayna Smith/For The Washington Post)

Several thousand U.S. veterinarians are certified to perform acupuncture, according to Vikki Weber, executive director of the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. When looking for one, it’s worth making sure the practitioner is in fact a licensed vet — that is, a person first trained in conventional veterinary medicine. The following organizations can provide information about veterinary acupuncturists and help you locate one:

●American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture, www.aava.org

●International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, www.ivas.org

●American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, www.ahvma.org

●Chi Institute, www.tcvm.com

●Center for Comparative and Integrative Pain Medicine at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, www.csuvets.colostate.edu/pain/CCIPM.htm

●American Medical Veterinary Association, www.avma.org

Marlene Cimons