Perhaps you know that Best Friends Veterinary Care offers holistic care for your pets, including acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) practices. But do you know how they can benefit your pet? Or what they entail? Read on for some fascinating tidbits about this alternative treatment style, and how our veterinary team uses an integrative approach to treat your furry friends. 

#1: TCVM combines several different treatment modalities

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used for thousands of years to treat humans, and veterinary practitioners soon after developed an adaptation to treat animals. In TCVM, diseases are thought to represent disharmony in the body, or a yin and yang imbalance. The methods to treat that imbalance can include an array of techniques, such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, nutritional counseling, and massage therapy. 

#2: TCVM is ideally combined with Western veterinary medicine techniques

There is no one way to practice veterinary medicine, and many veterinarians will agree that an integrative approach provides a well-balanced, holistic way to treat pets. While TCVM focuses on the body’s imbalances, Western veterinary medicine uses medication, surgery, and diet to treat and prevent disease. Both medicine styles continue to evolve to provide the most advanced, well-researched treatment options for pets. By combining Eastern and Western techniques, a patient’s treatment takes into consideration their entire being, and therapies synergistically work together to provide a more complete recovery. 

#3: Acupuncture is a science

One popular facet of TCVM is acupuncture, which involves the insertion of tiny needles into the skin at specific points known as meridians. The fine needles stimulate surrounding nerves and encourage blood flow to the area, which helps relieve pain and improve overall body function. Needle insertion also stimulates release of hormones, such as endorphins, that aid in pain relief. A veterinary acupuncturist is trained to understand which meridians address which organs or systems, and uses this information to create an individualized plan for each pet. 

Some people may question the effectiveness of acupuncture and other alternative therapies; however, the National Institute of Health has recognized compelling evidence that demonstrates acupuncture to be useful in the management of human arthritis and musculoskeletal pain. Our furry counterparts experience similar musculoskeletal pain and inflammation, and can also benefit from acupuncture’s healing properties.

#4: Acupuncture treats a variety of conditions

Veterinary acupuncture is widely used to address a myriad of diseases, both acute and chronic. Aging, arthritic pets benefit greatly from acupuncture, as do pets with allergic skin disease. Acupuncture likely helps treat most conditions, but is most commonly used for pain associated with musculoskeletal, neurologic, gastrointestinal, and dermatologic disorders. 

#5: Most pets readily accept acupuncture treatments

Many pet parents new to acupuncture are concerned that their four-legged friends will be too stressed, and won’t tolerate the needle injections. You may be surprised that the opposite often happens. In fact, many patients instantly relax during their sessions, and pet owners commonly see an instant, stress-relieving response during and after acupuncture. Of course, every pet responds differently, but most dogs, cats, and horses—whom we commonly treat—readily accept their treatments. 

#6: Modern medications evolved from herbal medicine

The ancient practice of using herbs and plants for medicinal purposes has been around for thousands of years. Modern-day pharmaceuticals derived from this practice by isolating individual compounds from plants to use as medications, such as opiates and digoxin. 

In traditional herbal medicine, the entire plant is believed to provide synergistic effects to treat the body as a whole, while minimizing the need for pharmacologic drugs. In herbal medicine, practitioners often use a combination of Chinese, Indian, and Western herbs. 

#7: Many species can benefit from TCVM

At Best Friends Veterinary Care, our acupuncture team typically treats dogs, cats, and horses, but virtually any species can receive this therapy. The efficacy of acupuncture is noted in rabbits, cattle, monkeys, dogs, cats, horses—and elephants. 

Our own Dr. Caitlin Rooney, a certified veterinary acupuncturist (CVA), underwent additional training to obtain her certification, and we’re glad she did. She also regularly uses herbal remedies in her treatment plans. Book a consultation with her today, to see if TCVM could be a good addition to your pet’s care. In the meantime, you can read more about our acupuncture services here.