Acupuncture and TCVM

Integrative Veterinary Medicine

An integrative approach to your pet’s medical problems integrates alternative and complementary therapies with the conventional veterinary treatment she/he is receiving, and works with your regular veterinarian to help your pet to wellness.  Such therapies are:  nutrition, food therapy, acupuncture and Chinese herbs, western herbs, massage, chiropractic, flower essences, aromatherapy, in an integrative approach looking at the whole animal, her/his environment, exercise and lifestyle, ‘social’ interactions, emotional issues and other issues as needed.  These complementary therapies follow review of patient’s records, review of history and current problems, complete physical examination from both conventional western and TCVM/wholistic perspectives; and discussion and goals of the client and animal patient.

An integrative veterinary medical approach involves the clients/owners and the pet with the veterinarian, enabling us all, together, to set realistic goals and expectations, and work toward these.

The referring veterinarian is consulted and kept informed of assessment, treatment and progress, and recommendations for conventional diagnostics as needed.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM)

Traditional Chinese (Veterinary) Medicine is a 2000 year old system of medicine – thought and practice – that uses its own set of diagnostic questions, tools and therapeutic techniques and their interpretation, to seek to correct imbalances in the body, to restore harmony and health and wellbeing.  The aim is to treat and correct the root of each illness as well as instead of just treating symptoms.


Acupuncture involves inserting fine acupuncture needles in specific points – acupoints – on the patient’s body.  The points are chosen and stimulated in specific ways to elicit a desired response, based on the patient’s imbalance or ‘disease’, to bring the body back into a state of balance, homeostasis and harmony.  The needles help to build and move and balance the ‘Qi’ energy of the body.

The needles may be manipulated in various ways.  The acupoints may be stimulated by injection of certain substances such as vitamins, homeopathic remedies, or saline, electroacupuncture, moxibustion, acupressure, massage and low power laser.

The acupuncture needles cause little or no discomfort or pain once they are inserted.  Often the animal will relax and fall asleep.  There may be a sense of tingling or pressure, which may be uncomfortable for some animals.

How does acupuncture work?

In Traditional Chinese Medical philosophy, health is related to the flow of Qi, vital energy, in the body.  Qi is composed of Yin and Yang, and is made when these two opposites are present in the body in equal amounts at the same time.  Disease is the result of an imbalance of Yin and Yang (lack of homeostasis), or blockage of the flow of energy (Qi) in the body (pain).   Acupuncture unblocks, enhances and balances the flow of Qi, thereby helping the body to restore harmony to treat disease, or relieve pain.

In Western medical terms, acupuncture helps the body to heal by effecting physiological changes, such as stimulating nerves, increasing blood circulation, relieving muscle spasm and pain, causing the release of hormones such as endorphins (one of the body’s pain control substances), cortisol (a natural anti-inflammatory substance), serotonin, and other neurotransmitters, regulating the gastrointestinal tract, immune system and endocrine system, and decreasing fever.

The acupuncture points are in areas where there are free nerve endings, arterioles, lymphatics and mast cells.

Acupuncture helps treat many conditions

  • Musculoskeletal:   arthritis, osteoarthritis, intervertebral disc disease, Wobblers, degenerative myelopathy, tendon and ligament problems eg cranial cruciate ligament tears, hip dysplasia, DJD, neck and back pain, stiffness
  • Respiratory:  (feline) asthma, COPD, viral infections, cough, sneezing, allergies, bronchitis, pneumonia
  • Skin:  lick granulomas, allergies, dermatitis, hot spots, pruritis (itching), eczema, feline acne, ‘rash’, infection, hair loss
  • Gastrointestinal:  vomiting, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, constipation, malabsorption, bloat, weight gain/loss, colitis, gastritis, hair balls, indigestion, megacolon, megaesophagus, food sensitivities, anorexia, constant hunger
  • Endocrine:  feline hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, Cushings, Addisons disease, hypothyroidism
  • Reproductive problems:  anestrus, poor heat cycles, low sperm counts, failure to conceive, infertility, prostate problems
  • Neurological:  radial nerve paralysis, vestibular syndrome, other nerve injuries due to trauma, seizures, epilepsy, degenerative myelopathy, Wobblers
  • Liver diseases:  failure, high enzyme levels, hepatitis, fatty liver, gall stones
  • Eyes:  conjunctivitis, poor vision, red eye, KCS, lenticular sclerosis, uveitis
  • Ears:  deafness, tinnitus, infections
  • Cardiovascular:  heart failure, poor circulation, cardiomyopathy
  • Geriatric/aging issues:  weakness, behavioural, cognitive, enhanced longevity and ability to enjoy old age, insomnia, fatigue, renal failure
  • Kidney, bladder:  cystitis, calculi, chronic and acute renal failure, infection, straining, FUS
  • Autoimmune:  lupus, blood dyscrasias, anemia, leukemia, ITP
  • Cancer:  prevention and treatment , reducing side effects of chemotherapy or radiation

Acupuncture safety

Acupuncture is one of the safest forms of medical treatment when administered by a properly trained veterinarian.  Side effects are rare, but can occur.  An animal’s condition may appear worse for up to 48 h post treatment; or they may be sleepy for 24 h after.  These are indications that physiological changes are occurring, and are usually followed by an improvement in the animal’s condition.

Acupuncture treatment

The length of the treatment depends on the condition of the patient and the type of treatment chosen.  An acupuncture treatment may last from 10 seconds to 30 minutes.

A simple acute problem such as a muscle sprain or injury may need only one treatment.  A chronic problem or severe disorder may need 10-12 treatments, with ‘tune-ups’ every few months or two to four times a year.

When multiple treatments are needed, they may be 1-3 times a week for 4-6 weeks, then tapered off.  Usually a positive response is seen after the third treatment.

Veterinary acupuncturist qualifications

In Ontario, as well as most countries, states and provinces, acupuncture is considered a veterinary procedure that only licensed veterinarians may legally administer to animals.  A veterinarian trained in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) and Acupuncture is best able to diagnose an animal’s health problem in conventional western veterinary medicine and then to determine whether the animal may benefit from an integrative approach using acupuncture, herbs, nutrition and food therapy, massage, physiotherapy, conventional pharmacological, surgical therapies or no intervention at all.

Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbs are chosen to ‘match’ a patient’s disharmony.  They work in the same acupuncture channels and points that the acupuncture treatment has been used to treat, thereby complementing the acupuncture treatment.

For some conditions, the use of herbal medicine supports the acupuncture treatments, and may even replace the acupuncture treatment.  Herbs are often used for conditions that have not responded to conventional veterinary medical treatments.

For more information, or to arrange a consultation, please contact Reception, or one of the Doctors, (613)271-8387.