How Can Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) Help Your Pet?

chinese herb

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) is an integrated health system that includes acupuncture, Chinese herbs, food therapy, Chinese massage and life-style issues. It differs in its approach to health and disease from Western Veterinary Medicine in several ways. Each medical system has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Western Veterinary Medicine (WVM) excels at acute disease and surgical issues. It takes a more mechanistic approach and seeks to find the pathogen or cause of disease, and eliminate it through medication, surgery, radiation therapy and other modalities.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine can be very effective in chronic diseases that WVM does not have a cure for, like kidney disease, liver disease, paralysis caused by disc disease and cancer. TCVM practitioners approach disease as an imbalance in the body. They recognize the animal is an integrated, energetic being and that disease is caused by a disruption in this balance. Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine therapies seek to prevent the development of these disruptions that cause disease by addressing diet, lifestyle issues and using preventative therapies such as acupuncture.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine can be used in conjunction with WVM to help support the animal during treatment with western modalities. For example, acupuncture can reduce pain and speed healing in surgical cases; Chinese herbs and acupuncture can improve the energy, mobility, appetite and quality of life in a patient with chronic kidney disease; Chinese herbs and acupuncture can reduce the amount of seizure medication an animal needs, or help ameliorate the side-effects of the western medications.

horse acupunture

TCVM can also be used in conjunction with other health management systems like chiropractic and homeopathy. A very effective combination for treating osteoarthritis is to reduce pain and ‘unblock’ stagnant painful areas with acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments. Once the animal is feeling better, introduce an exercise and diet regimen that promotes balanced muscle development, keeps cartilage healthy and promotes an ideal body weight. In long term or very painful cases, herbs can support the animal and reduce pain between acupuncture treatments.

Often people seek out alternative therapies hoping that a single herb or one acupuncture treatment will solve the pet’s long term issues. Unfortunately this is not usually how the process unfolds. Often more effort and management is required by the owner to achieve their long term goal of helping their pet be in an energetically balance and in a state of optimal health. But, there are many rewards for their increased efforts. The strength of the owner-pet bond increases and it is very rewarding to see a beloved animal improve in their comfort, contentment and quality of life.

A typical approach to TCVM in terms of visits for a chronic issue (arthritis, skin disease, kidney disease, etc) would be to see the animal weekly or every other week for 4-6 visits. Once we are on the right path towards better health the visits become less frequent (usually every 4-8 weeks). But accommodations are made in the treatment regimen for frail animals or animals that do not do well in veterinary visits. In acute cases, like restoring muscle tone and mass and managing pain, in a post surgical situation likely 3-4 visits are adequate.

At Kingston Mills Vet Hospital we offer both TCVM and WVM. Please give us a call if you have questions, or want to know if chiropractic, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and dietary therapy can be helpful to your pet.

You can locate a certified veterinary acupunturist by visiting:

Return from Chinese Veterinary Medicine to the Home page