Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs

East Meets West

According to Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), disease occurs because of energy imbalances in the body. Acupuncture involves the placement of very thin needles at specific acupuncture points in the skin to rebalance the energy, or Qi. These points can also be activated by using small injections of fluid, gentle electrical currents or moxibustion, an herb that is heated and placed over certain acupuncture points to warm and activate them. Acupuncture is often used along with western medications and treatments. When this happens, it is not uncommon that the pet requires lower doses or less frequency of their western medications.

In dogs and cats, the placement of the acupuncture needle is almost always painless. Many times the pet will become relaxed and fall asleep while they receive their treatment. The needles are generally left in place for 20-30 minutes, then removed.

Although rare, some side effects do exist. Sometimes the pet’s condition will seem to worsen for up to 48 hours after the treatment. The pet may become very sedate for the following 24 hours. They may sleep deeply the night of their treatment, especially older pets. These signs are indications that the treatment has induced a physiologic change in the body – the Qi is rebalancing!

In general, acupuncture in pets is an extremely safe modality. When deciding to pursue acupuncture for your pet, you should be able to commit to at least one month of treatment, performed weekly. Some conditions may require a longer commitment. Most owners notice improvement after the second or third treatment. Once the improvement plateaus, the treatments are often tapered to a bimonthly or monthly schedule.

Eastern Chinese herbs are often an effective addition to address a pet’s ailment. Traditional Chinese herbology parallels acupuncture in many ways and contributes to an integrated approach to health care. Chinese herbs are particularly useful with neurologic, dermatologic, gastrointestinal and behavioral issues. The difference between Chinese herbs and western herbs is that Chinese herbs are almost never used alone. Used in formulas of precise combinations that contain at least 4 Chinese herbs, some formulas can contain combinations of more than 15 Chinese herbs. While there are about 300 Chinese herbs commonly used, the total pharmacopeia is nearly 3,000!

TCVM aims to treat the whole pet, rather than just individual symptoms. Understanding your pet’s history from a TCVM perspective is time-intensive. We ask that you complete and submit a detailed questionnaire prior to your first acupuncture session. We ask that this questionnaire be completed thoughtfully and submitted for review no less than 24 hours prior to the first session. Please contact us if you need any assistance completing this questionnaire.