1. What is Chinese medicine and how does it apply to my pets?
Chinese medicine began nearly 8000 years ago and has been modified over millennia to bring the body into balance to prevent disease – or if there was disease, to rid the body of disease and then bring it into balance to prevent further disease and have perfect health. It uses acupuncture (the insertion of fine sterile wires into specific points determined by the Chinese diagnosis), nutrition, herbal medicine, tui-na (Chinese massage and physical therapy) and tai-chi or qi-gong (movement-based meditation) to balance all of the systems in the body and maintain health.
Chinese medicine applies to your pets by keeping them healthy and preventing disease or healing disease they already have (except any acute trauma for which you need immediate care – western medicine works more quickly for that). In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, we use acupuncture, nutritional and herbal therapies, and tui-na in treating your pets.
2. How many treatments will my pet need?
The short answer is it depends. The long answer is that it depends on the Chinese diagnosis, the general health of the animal, and the severity and chronicity of disease. Young animals with acute disease may only need one or two treatments, and herbal medicines and food changes can decrease the number of treatments an animal needs until good health is achieved. Severe arthritis or severe weakness may require several treatments (three to five) before a better quality of life is seen, although again that can vary. As with western medicine, Chinese medicine is an art and a science and varies depending on the individual animal. For example, we saw a young dog for behavioral issues who improved immensely with one acupuncture treatment and herbs, and has only needed one check up since (and that was just a recheck to see if we needed to change any herbs). We also saw an 18-year-old dog who had been paralyzed due to intervertebral disc disease in the hind end and after three treatments began going for walks daily, and with monthly treatments still did two years later.
3. If you treat my pets, do I still need annual vaccines?
All recommendations for your pet are individual and based on their Chinese diagnosis, which is very different than a western diagnosis. We arrive at the diagnosis by taking a long and involved history and a performing a Chinese physical exam. We may recommend less frequent vaccinations but we do recommend that dogs receive heartworm tests yearly and that older animals or those with chronic disease in particular have blood and urine checked at least yearly.
4. If my pets become your patients, do I stop seeing my ‘regular’ vet?
We do not recommend that you stop seeing your regular vet. Blood and urine checks, dental cleanings, and other western diagnostics are important for your animal friend’s health.
5. Can you work with my regular vet?
We can work with your regular vet and do so frequently to keep your pet healthy or treat illness. Many patients, including those with chronic illness, can do well with western and Chinese medicine combined.
6. Are Chinese herbs safe?
Just like with any medicine, Chinese herbs are only safe when used correctly to treat the correct Chinese diagnosis. The Chinese people generally use herbs first, before they use acupuncture. Since the herbs are used by the population of China, they are scrupulously checked for antimicrobials and heavy metals. Most of the herbs we use are processed in the United States, and those that are not are from very reputable companies that are known to check every batch for contaminants.
7. What type of animals do you treat?
We treat all animals, large and small.
8. Does acupuncture hurt?
Generally, acupuncture does not hurt. The sterile wires used are much thinner than western needles used for injections, about the size of a thick hair. Some patients have painful problems, such as arthritis, or are nervous – or their people are nervous – so the animals may be jumpy or very sensitive. We often start the acupuncture session with calming points to decrease sensitivity, but every now and then the insertion of a needle can feel sharp. Often there is no sensation initially but later the area may feel warm or a wave of heat may seem to emanate from the area (these descriptions are from our own personal, human experiences with acupuncture). Frequently, the animals relax after the first few needles have been inserted and may even become drowsy or fall asleep. Additionally, human companions tell us that they often feel very relaxed watching their animals receive acupuncture.
9. Can you treat any illness?
Chinese medicine is a complete system of medicine that can treat any illness or condition, but western medicine is more quickly effective for acute trauma such as a broken bone or being hit by a car. Western medicine is also indicated for toxin ingestion or anything swallowed that shouldn’t be. Chinese medicine is especially good for any internal or external disorder, including allergies and skin conditions, arthritis and bone diseases, ear, eye, gastrointestinal, lung, nasal, liver, heart, kidney, bladder, and endocrine problems, cancer treatment (even in conjunction with chemotherapy or radiation), pain management, including post-surgical, hoof and foot problems. and behavioral issues. Homeopathy treats many problems also.
10. What education / credentials do you have?
Dr. Jody has a BS in bacteriology, a DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1992, is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist and a Certified Veterinary Chinese Herbalist from the Chi Institute for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in Reddick, Florida (the first of it’s kind outside of China), along with completed coursework in tui-na and food therapy from the Chi Institute, where she now teaches.
Dr. Andrea has a BS in zoology and a DVM from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is a certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, and a certified veterinary food therapist from the Chi Institute for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine
11. My pet is already on a number of medicines. Can he still take those if you begin treating him?
We will discuss the medicines that your animal friend is receiving and decide, based on the Chinese diagnosis and western information, which medicines should be continued and which may be decreased or discontinued.