Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which dates back thousands of years, is designed to promote health and treat disease. The term “disease” can be defined as “lack of ease,”meaning discomfort, distress, or illness affecting your pet. At Marina Village Veterinary and Holistic Care, we provide integrative medicine to evaluate your pet’s health with conventional medical diagnostics and treatments, and we also offer a TCM approach toward body imbalances contributing to disease.

What is traditional Chinese medicine?

TCM includes acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, which are designed to support the body in self-healing. Conventional medicine views the body as a network of muscles, bones, and organs. If a body part is not functioning correctly, conventional medicine seeks a specific diagnosis and treatment plan to resolve the problem. TCM views the body as an energetic system that can become out of balance, and TCM treatment stimulates internal physiological changes to resolve disease patterns, rather than focusing on specific symptoms. TCM can be used as a separate modality, in conjunction with conventional medicine, or as support and maintenance for a healthy pet.

TCM’s foundation is “Qi,” or life energy, that flows through the body in invisible channels known as meridians. A Qi blockage, deficiency, or excess results in disease. Conventional medical diagnostics can help identify organ or musculoskeletal problems, but TCM adds diagnostic tools based on your pet’s overall history, disposition, tongue color, and pulse characteristics. TCM also has a different perspective on pathogens that cause disease. In conventional medicine, a pathogen is a bacterial, viral, or fungal organism, whereas TCM includes the body’s reaction to heat, cold, wind, moisture, dryness, or emotions. 

How can traditional Chinese medicine help my pet?

TCM was initially developed for human diseases, but has been translated to support healing for many pet health problems, including:

  • Arthritis or musculoskeletal pain
  • Neurologic damage or degeneration
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Chronic respiratory disorders
  • Chronic skin and ear problems
  • Anxiety or behavior problems
  • Endocrine or organ dysfunction
  • Reproductive disorders
  • Immune system disorders
  • Support for healing from infectious disease
  • Support for cancer symptoms
  • Side effects from chemotherapy or other medications

How does traditional Chinese medicine work for pets?

Your pet’s body has hundreds of acupuncture points along the meridians, and these points have an increased density of inflammatory mediators, nerve bundles, lymphatic flow, and blood supply. Acupuncture points and meridians are associated with specific organs and disease patterns. Fine needles are inserted at a combination of acupuncture points to stimulate Qi movement, and address body imbalances contributing to disease. 

Chinese herbal medicine also treats body imbalances and underlying disease processes. Chinese herbs can be combined with acupuncture treatments, or used as a single modality, to provide the best outcome for your pet. After a complete TCM history and exam, the Marina Village Veterinary and Holistic Care team can prescribe the appropriate herbal medications for your pet’s condition.

How do pets tolerate traditional Chinese medicine?

Most pets find acupuncture a positive and painless experience. The Marina Village Veterinary and Holistic Care team works carefully with our patients to ensure their comfort, and some pets become noticeably relaxed during an acupuncture session. Generally, pets have varying treatment responses, with some becoming calm and relaxed, and others more playful. Your pet’s symptoms may improve immediately, but the body usually takes a few days to recalibrate, and repeat sessions may be needed.

Chinese herbal medicines can be administered as a powder, capsule, or liquid tincture, and most pets tolerate them well. Herbal medications can have fewer side effects than conventional pharmaceutical treatments, and changes in doses or prescriptions may be recommended over time. The length of herbal treatment can vary, depending on whether your pet has an acute or chronic condition. 

How safe is traditional Chinese medicine for pets?

Acupuncture is one of the safest treatments for animals, and the American Veterinary Medical Association accepts the healing modality. Acupuncture is especially helpful for pets whose health problems do not allow conventional medical treatments, or who have side effects from conventional pharmaceutical medication. 

Studies have shown that Chinese herbs are safe for pets when prescribed by a trained professional. We use high quality herbal products that originate from the natural world of branches, stems, roots, seeds, flowers, and leaves, and are prepared using modern technology.

The Marina Village Veterinary and Holistic Care team believes in providing the best healthcare for your pet’s body, mind, and spirit. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation if you have questions about how TCM can help improve your pet’s health and well-being.