traditional Chinese veterinary medicine

If you’re new to all of this, the whole idea of acupuncture, herbs, food therapy, etc. may seem a little “woo-woo.” When I first started studying acupuncture, I figured it was based on some mysterious energy or magic that humans somehow are able to manipulate for the purpose of healing. As I learned more, I realized the utter genius of the ancient people for figuring out how physiology works in such a detailed way without the aid of scientific equipment. Let me correct myself. Although it is not often acknowledged, observation is actually a scientific method!


Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) has been used in China for thousands of years to treat domestic animals. It’s based on using the senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch) for diagnosis and treatment of disease. TCVM differs from Western Veterinary Medicine (WVM) in its focus on balance rather than control. When the imbalance that caused disease is identified, one can work to restore balance and health by helping the body heal itself.


TCVM’s five major branches:


Food therapy

Herbal therapy

Tui na



The practice of TCVM uses many guiding theories including yin-yang theory, five-element theory, eight principles, meridian or channels in the body, zang-fu organ physiology, six channels, four stages, etc. These are all different ways of looking at the body as a whole and how it is functioning in the world. The goal is to identify a disease pattern.


Both TCVM and WVM utilize physical exam and history-taking to make a diagnosis. WVM also uses testing such as bloodwork and radiographs to help characterize disease. TCVM includes pulse evaluation and palpation of certain points on the body to refine a diagnosis. Both styles of medicine have strengths and weaknesses, but used together we have many more ways of helping animals heal.


I’ve found that using TCVM in addition to WVM has opened my eyes to things I may have seen before in practice, but not having any way to process the information, was useless. Now I can touch, smell, see, hear, etc. all the things about an animal and have a way of understanding why it might be that way. The information given by pet guardians about their pet’s daily habits figures significantly in making a diagnosis with TCVM. Getting at the origin of the problem allows us to restore balance, not just suppress symptoms temporarily. I wouldn’t want to practice without either WVM or TCVM!


Subscribe to my list to get blog updates by email:

Sign up for blog updates