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YIN, YANG: and Your Hunting Dog: Chinese veterinary medicine can relieve the aches and pains of our gun dogs.

"Master, I took my dog to Dr. Smith, and he told me there was nothing he could do! Fu Dog is old, arthritic, dribbling urine, and can hardly stand; I know he wants to hunt, but he's just not up to it! The medications he is on are no longer effective...what shall I do?"

"Oh, little Grasshopper, never fear. There are other alternatives to Western medicine. Chinese culture has been developing traditional methods for treatment of animals and people for millennia, and there may yet be hope for your aging friend."

Yeah, I know, a cheap knock-off of the beloved Kung Fu series, but hey, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) has been practiced for at least 3,000 years, maybe 8,000.

There has been a surge in popularity of many holistic/alternative treatment modalities lately around the world, certainly in the U.S., as people seek alternate approaches to health. Accordingly, veterinarians, including myself, are becoming educated in these disciplines.

1 am a 63-year-old trained veterinarian, who was dragged kicking and screaming into holistic medicine. Why have I taken to it? First, it has worked for me personally when conventional medicine has failed.

Second, the research I've done has shown that several (not all) of these approaches add to or replace Western medicine with better results and fewer side effects. I also practice a chiropractic style modality called VOM, and use a therapy laser heavily in my practice.

Third, TCVM seems to offer more than any other method, and I am seeing remarkable results in my own practice.

I completed most of my acupuncture training last year at the Chi Institute of TCVM. Unfortunately, illness (nothing serious) bumped me out of my last session, which I will complete this year.

I have developed a keen interest in the treatment of injuries and lameness in animal athletes, both canine and equine, and saw acupuncture as an asset in lameness/rehab work. Many internal medicine conditions, cancers, and even dermatology cases can be treated successfully with TCVM.

Dr. Betsy Hershey of Integrative Veterinary Oncology in Phoenix, AZ, along with Dr. Huisheng Xie, director of Chi Institute, collaborated on a conventional/TCVM combination treatment for canine lymphoma and were able to triple the life expectancy of patients compared to either modality used alone. That is significant!

The four pillars of TCVM are: 1) acupuncture, 2) herbal therapy, 3) food therapy (diet), and 4) tui na, which is massage/acupressure therapy. You need a properly trained veterinary acupuncturist to make a correct TCVM pattern diagnosis and administer acupuncture, recommend herbal combinations, and get you started on some tui na.

The frequency of acupuncture treatmerits varies with the condition and the patient, but generally 4-6 visits on a weekly to bi-weekly basis, along with herbal, dietary and at-home tui na will set things right for most acute problems.

According to TCVM, there is a life force called Qi (pronounced Chee), which energizes and controls all life functions. There is a complex system of acupuncture meridians in the body, along which exist acupuncture points where the Qi flow may be accessed, modified, enhanced, or suppressed as needed.

These points may be stimulated by dry needling (simply inserting an acupuncture needle), or the effect may be enhanced by electric stimulation (electroacupuncture) or by heat (moxibustion), or even by special laser stimulators. The overall goal is to balance the opposing forces of Yin and Yang, which exist in an ever-moving, ever-changing continuum in our world.

Balance is the goal in TCVM; with balance there is health. So, it is more holistic (think whole-istic), in that it focuses on the whole body, not just the obvious problem.

So, does it work? In a word, yes. I am a rank beginner, yet I have seen some remarkable results, especially in chronic disease process like Fu dog above, and in autoimmune and immune suppressed conditions, as well as lameness and performance issues.

I am also using acupuncture and herbal supplements in my English setter breeding dogs to enhance litter viability and ease of delivery, as well as overall quality of the end product--good hunting pups. Older, weak-in-the-rear-end dogs like Fu have been responding quite well to electroacupuncture, when conventional methods fail or, in the cases where NSAID medications (like carprofen, etc.) have become too toxic for the older dogs.

Do you hunt on horseback, or have pleasure or work horses? You are not left out. Lameness is the bane of the horse owner, and often TCVM can come alongside conventional treatment, or will work when traditional therapies fail. Additionally, there are effective treatments for common internal medicine problems such as EMS, PPID, anhydrosis, and many others.

OK, before you dismiss me as some left-over hippie snowflake from the 1960s (although I am the right age), please understand I am actually a battle hardened, cynical, slow-to-change crusty old Southern vet, maybe even a bit of a redneck, so my positive impressions on TCVM are not due to some hopeful "rose colored glasses" placebo effect. In my practice, it's gotta work, or I ditch it.

I hope that readers of this short treatise on TCVM will consider this information and perhaps contact a TCVM practitioner. Granted, there may be a few snowflakes in the waiting room, but it's a small price to pay to get ol' Fu Dog hunting again.

May your dog never break point, your shots fly true, and your Qi flow freely!

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Author:Barger, James C.
Publication:Gun Dog
Date:Jun 1, 2018
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