Nervous Dog Case Study
Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

nervous dog

grace is

  • a 6yo SF Lab x Hound cross
  • Presented 4y ago by the Humane Society with chronic diarrhea and inappetance
  • Nervous chewing of the top of her tail
  • Poor urinary control
  • Thin body condition
  • Nervous disposition

nervous dog

• Chronic diarrhea and inappetance and thin body condition =• Spleen qi deficiency
• Nervous chewing of tail and nervous disposition =• Heart blood deficiency
• Poor urinary control =• Spleen not holding


• Diarrhea smelly• Spleen qi deficiency with damp heat
• Tongue slightly pale purple, flabby with some moisture on it• Qi stagnation, some dampness accumulating
• Pulses slightly wirey but strong• Liver qi stagnation
• BL 20/21 back shu points felt deficient• Spleen qi deficiency
• Dog impatient, would not tie, escape artist
• Grace would eat anything but frequently vomited up what she could not digest• Spleen qi deficiency


  • Spleen qi deficiency with signs of damp heat in the bowel
  • Liver qi stagnation creating some heat in the bowel and emotional upset


  • Fecal negative, Grace was empirically dewormed
  • Urinalysis was normal


  • Smooth liver qi and diminish heat in the bowel
  • Support spleen, drain damp


Grace was put on a home cooked diet using cooling meats such as turkey and pork. The diet was based on recommendations from Dr Steve Marsden. The diet was used to strengthen the spleen, resolve heat in the bowel

To relieve heat in her system and move liver qi she was given the chinese herbal formula called Liver Happy (Xiao Yao San) for 3 weeks

To relieve liver qi stagnation, move liver blood and strengthen her muscles, improve body condition she was exercised for 45 minutes twice a day off leash

grace run

Liver Happy Formula

  • Cyperus Xian Fu Zu: soothe liver, resolve stagnation
  • Citrus Qing Pi: move qi, soothe liver, resolve stagnation
  • Paeonia Bai Shao Yao: soothe liver
  • Saussurea Mu Xiang: move qi
  • Mentha Bo He: move qi
  • Buplereurum Chai Hu: soothe liver
  • Moutan Mu Dan Pi: cool liver
  • Gardenia Zhi Zi: clear heat
  • Angelica Dang Gui: move blood
  • Licorice Gan Cao:Harmonize
After resolving the liver qi stagnation and heat in her system, she began an herbal formula to support the spleen and drain damp called Four Gentlemen (Si Jun Zi Tang) for a 4 month period.

Intermittently over the intervening years she has taken Ping Wei San to tonify her spleen (when she has episodes of vomiting clear fluids). She has remained on the home cooked diet and exercise regimen.

Four Gentleman (Si Jun Zi Tang)

  • Codonopsis, Dang Shen- Tonify Qi
  • Atractylodes, Bai Zhu – Strengthen Spleen, Tonify Qi
  • Astragalus, Huang Qi – Tonify qi
  • Poria, Fu Ling – Drain Damp, strengthen Spleen

Tonify Qi and Strengthen Spleen

Ping Wei San

  • Atractylodes, Cang Zhu- dry damp, strengthen spleen
  • Magnolia, Hou Po – move Qi, resolve stagnation
  • Citrus, Chen Pi – move Qi, dry damp
  • JuJube, Da Zao – regulate Spleen and Stomach
  • Zingiberis, Gan Jiang – regulate the Spleen and Stomach
  • Licorice, Gan Cao- Harmonize

Dispel damp, strengthen spleen Qi, move Stomach Qi downwards


Grace experienced the stress of being a stray, going to the humane society and not eating well for a period of time.

These stressors created liver qi stagnation (resulting in a nervous dog which she expressed as chewing at her tail, refusing to be tied, nervous behaviours, and inappetance).

The stagnation also created heat in her system which was expressed as smelly diarrhea.

Important to her treatment was to get her liver qi moving and reduce her stress. Initially I did not use a formula for diarrhea, as these formulas often tonify the spleen. I did not want to also tonify the heat that had accumulated in her system as this would make the diarrhea worse, or may have erupted as skin lesions.

Instead, we supported her spleen with an easy to digest home cooked diet while reducing heat and moving liver Qi with the Liver Happy herbal formula.

The exercise regimen also reduced her stress by allowing her to expend her natural youthful energy.

Adhering to a routine also reduces stress.

Grace’s diarrhea resolved after being on the home cooked diet and XYS formula within about a week. The herbal formula was continued for 3w to make sure her liver Qi was moving well.

Even though her diarrhea had resolved, her spleen was still weak (vomits easily, poor muscle condition), so the Four Gentleman herbal formula helped to strengthen her spleen.

Currently Grace is a very vital dog with great muscle mass and tone. She still will vomit if she eats unusual things. She has great urinary control and normal stools. Her tail fur grew in within about 3 weeks. She lost her nervous habits over a 4-6 week interval.

Grace after

Marsden, Steve and Susan Wynn. Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine. Missouri, USA: Mosby, 2003
Schoen, Allen, ed. Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern Medicine Second edition. Missouri, USA : Mosby, 2001
Schwartz, Cheryl. Four Paws Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs. California, USA: Celestial Arts Publishing, 1996
Xie, Huishing and Vanessa Preast. Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine Volume 1: Fundamental Principles. Beijing, China: Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics Printing House, 2005
Xie, Huisheng and Vanessa Preast. Xie’s Veterinary Acupuncture. Iowa, USA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007
Xie, Huisheng, ed by Vanessa Preast. Chinese Veterinary Herbal Handbook. Florida, USA: Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine, 2004

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