What is Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM)?

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) has been used for thousands of years to diagnose and treat animals. It is derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) used in humans. The practice of TCVM is based in the philosophy that the body is a system in balance, and once imbalance occurs, there is a disease state. Treatments using TCVM methods aim to rebalance the entire body, which in turn will allow the patient to heal themselves and bring the body back to a state of health. Common TCVM methods include acupuncture, herbal therapy, and food therapy.

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How can acupuncture and TCVM help my pet?

Almost any patient can benefit from acupuncture and TCVM practices! Because we are seeking balance and not using outside forces or medications to change the physiology of the patient there are few, if any, side effects. It also works incredibly well when integrated with western medicine. In general, TCVM is very good at treating and managing chronic disease, while western medicine is excellent at treating acute issues. For example, an older dog with arthritis slips and falls and injures herself.

Western medicine would be beneficial for treating the acute pain, using anti-inflammatory and/or other pain medications to treat the immediate discomfort. Acupuncture and other TCVM methods would help to strengthen her whole body long-term, avoiding further injury and maximizing quality of life in her senior years. Using this integrative approach allows us to maximize the strengths of both approaches of medicine to best serve and treat your pet. The benefits can be remarkable!

What conditions can be treated with acupuncture and TCVM?

The following conditions are excellent candidates for treatment using acupuncture and TCVM methods. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you have another condition you are considering using acupuncture to treat, absolutely ask!

Geriatric Medicine

  • Arthritis pain
  • Hind-end weakness
  • Energy decrease/”slowing down”

Neurological Disorders

  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Paralysis/paresis
  • Wobbler’s disease
  • Seizures
  • Other neurological and
  • spinal cord disorders

Lower Urinary Tract Diseases

  • FLUTD/ Inappropriate urine marking
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Bladder and/or kidney stones

Endocrine Disorders

  • Cushing’s disease
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Hyper-or hypothroidism

Gastrointestinal Disease

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Chronic gastroenteritis/diarrhea
  • Megacolon
  • Gastritis/gastric ulcer

Respiratory Disease

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis

Behavioral concerns/Anxiety

Cancer Patients

Chronic Kidney Disease

Heart disease

Immune/mediated diseases

Skin allergies/Atopic dermatitis

What can I expect at my pet’s first acupuncture appointment?

You will complete a pre-visit history form before your initial consultation. This begins the process of developing a TCVM diagnosis for your pet. The first visit will be 60 minutes, during which we will go over the form as well as your concerns and what you aim to achieve for your pet.

A TCVM physical examination will be performed. This is similar to a normal physical exam and includes pulse evaluation, observation of the tongue, assessing specific points for sensitivity and/or warmth, and general observation of your pet’s demeanor. We will discuss things like Qi (pronounced Chi), Blood, Yin, and Yang. Your pet will then receive their first acupuncture treatment. This may involve dry needle placement, aquapuncture (injecting solutions at specific acupoints), and/or electroacupuncture (using electrostimulation through certain acupoints to stimulate more deeply). We will also likely discuss herbal therapies as well as diet recommendations to help augment and enhance your pet’s acupuncture therapy.

For how long will my pet need acupuncture?

Follow-up acupuncture appointments are typically scheduled for 30 minutes, during which we will briefly follow up on any changes or progress since the last visit, and then perform the acupuncture treatment. The number and frequency of treatments varies depending on the condition being treated. The goal is to help the body reach a state of balance again, so treatments are typically more frequent at the beginning (every 1-2 weeks on average), then decrease in frequency over time as balance is restored.