Integrative Medicine Service

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

Treating the Whole Patient to Promote Quality of Life

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) includes acupuncture, herb therapy, food therapy, and tui-na – Chinese chiropractic and massage therapy. This ancient medicine has been practiced on animals for over 1000 years in China. It has been used in many types of disease states as well as preventative medicine. Today, it can be used solely to address a problem or integrated with traditional Western Medicine approaches to improve outcomes.

The merit of TCVM is that therapy is directed at an individual pet rather than a particular disease. For example, in a Western Medicine approach, five senior Labrador Retriever patients who have hip pain from osteoarthritis are commonly treated with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as Rimadyl or Deramaxx. Using a TCVM approach, these same five pets could receive five different types of acupuncture, food, herb, and tui-na therapies because they have different underlying problems that lead to the hip pain and osteoarthritis. Additionally, the TCVM approach treats the whole pet, not just one single aspect. The focus is on improving overall quality of life.

Integrative Medicine combines the technological benefits of Western Medicine including advanced diagnostic tests and therapeutics with the individual patient focus and targeted therapy of TCVM. Additionally, TCVM therapies do not have side effects and may be able to reduce the necessity of medications that help one system, but can hurt another system.

Many diseases benefit from TCVM and they are listed below. The other significant benefit of TCVM is preventing disease by early detection of problems and implementing a holistic approach to maintain quality of life. Many pets may live a longer, more comfortable life by starting a preventative program as they enter their senior years. Preventative programs may help to prevent or delay the onset of aging and specific disease programs.

Diseases that respond well to TCVM:

  • Musculoskeletal/Joint Pain
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease
  • Skin and Allergy Problems
  • Chronic Ear Infections
  • Seizures
  • Cancer
  • Endocrine Diseases
  • Heart Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Respiratory Problems
  • Eye Problems
  • Weight loss
  • Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Behavior Problems

What to expect when starting an Integrative Medicine approach using TCVM:

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine approaches take time to see results. Over the course of three to four visits, the four branches of TCVM will be incorporated into a program. For most diseases, it takes eight treatments that occur over a two to three month period to thoroughly implement all aspects of therapy and to evaluate their effectiveness. Initially your pet may need to come in weekly, but the frequency soon decreases to one to two times per month. Depending on the disease problem, your pet may no longer require acupuncture sessions or they may benefit from ongoing treatment. In general, ongoing visits occur monthly to quarterly. Each visit lasts approximately 60 minutes.

During the first visit, an extensive history and Chinese physical exam will be performed to determine your pet’s unique pattern diagnosis. Acupuncture, typically using dry needles will be performed. In subsequent treatments, acupuncture may be delivered by injecting B12 into acupuncture points or using a gentle electrical current. During the second visit, food therapy is discussed and a top dressing of specific ingredients may be recommended. Top dressings are easy and quick to make and pets find them delicious! In rare cases, your pet may benefit from a totally home cooked diet and we will help find a way to make that easy and economical. During the third and fourth visits, herbs and tui-na techniques that we teach you to perform at home are discussed. Tui-na sessions at home last approximately 15 minutes and are an excellent way to spend quality time with your pet! Herbs are the most powerful of the four branches. An effective herb therapy helps reduce the number of necessary acupuncture visits.

For preventative programs, six to eight visits are scheduled throughout the year. The first two appointments are scheduled every 14 days and the remaining visits are scheduled every two to three months. For preventative programs, acupuncture, food therapy, and tui-na techniques are primarily used. Herbs may or may not be used.

Cats and dogs tolerate acupuncture well. Cats are more sensitive and responsive to needles than dogs and will require fewer needles per treatment and fewer treatments.  Inserting the needles is not a painful process. At most, the pet may experience a stinging sensation when the needle is inserted, but the sensation quickly disappears. Most pets enjoy the process and relax or even fall asleep during their visit!

Dr. Joyce Carnevale, MS, DVM, ABVP (C/F), CVA or Dr. Dick Hay, MS, DVM, ABVP (C/F), CVA provide Integrative Medicine services for TotalBond Veterinary Hospital patients. Both Dr. Carnevale and Dr. Hay have studied all branches of TCVM extensively and are Certified Veterinary Acupuncturists. Additionally, they both are diplomats of the American Board of Veterinary Medicine with a specialty in Canine and Feline medicine and surgery. They look forward to working together with you and your pet as well as your primary veterinarian to provide an integrative and holistic approach to care. Please ask your Hospital Guest Representative for additional information on scheduling a consult for your pet.