What Is Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM)?

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In recent years, the topic of Chinese veterinary medicine, also called Eastern veterinary medicine, has become quite the buzz.

More and more people are reaching for natural options.

So, why would it be any different for your pet?

Though Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) has only become a trend in the past few years in the United States, it has been successful for treating humans and animal for centuries. Like Western Veterinary Medicine (WVM), TCVM continues to advance every day.

The Basics of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

To understand TCVM, one must first understand the “Chinese Medicine Theory”.

Daoists believe the body is a smaller model of the universe that surrounds us. Just as cosmic laws and forces control the world, they also control the body. Life-energy, or “Qi”, is the force that drives the body and universe through every change.

The Yin-Yang theory is another idea that TCM is centered around. Also a Daoist belief, the Yin-Yang theory defines the relationship between opposing forces (light-dark, hot-cold, etc.). These forces are thought to control the balance of the universe and, ultimately, the body itself.

The Ancient Chinese observed five seasons throughout the year: spring, summer, late summer, autumn, and winter. These seasons equate with the Five Elements, or Wu Xing, which are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.

The body goes through all five seasons throughout life. For example, a kitten would be considered to be in its Wood (or spring) phase. A very old dog would be considered to be in its Water (or winter) phase.

Additionally, the body’s organs are in direct relation to one another based on the Five Element theory. Essentially, the organs have the power to promote and inhibit one another.

Chinese Veterinary Medicine and Disharmony/Disease

Disease occurs because of imbalance somewhere in the body. When diagnosing the cause for disharmony in the body, a TCVM veterinarian takes the entire body into consideration.

In other words, the main focus is not targeted only at the cause of disease. The patient’s physical characteristics (age, breed, temperament, activity, environment) and other organs are taken into consideration as well, based on the theory of the body being an interconnected system.

The Four Branches of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

Once the practitioner pinpoints the cause of the imbalance, treatment may begin. This brings us to the four branches of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine: Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Food Therapy and Tui-na (Qi-gong, a form of Chinese meditative exercise, is another branch of TCM that is excluded from TCVM only because it cannot be performed by animals).


Acupuncture involves the stimulation of points, usually with special needles, along the body’s Meridian Channels.

This is where Qi flows.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal Medicine is the use of herbs, usually a combination, to treat a certain disease.

Herbs come in a variety of forms, including powder and teapills.

Food Therapy

Food Therapy is treating disease with a knowledge of food energetics. Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”


Tui-na,a form of massage, involves locating and massaging acupoints and Meridians on the patient.

This is said to encourage the circulation of Qi throughout the body, allowing the body to correct any form of disharmony.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine opens the door to a whole new world of treatment and diagnostics. Personally, Dr. Damron believes in a balance between Western and Eastern medicine. He believes every patient is unique in their own way and treats them as such.

Whereas some cases may benefit from Chinese medicine, others may require treatment with Western methods. Of course, there are some instances where a blend of Eastern and Western medicine is the best choice.

Have you and your pet had an experience with TCVM? Have questions about TCVM? Please comment below!

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Chelsea Davis

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