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Discover How Chinese Veterinary Medicine Treats Pet Allergies

Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on October 5, 2016
Posted in Pet Allergies

Traditional Chinese Medicine has a fascinating way of explaining the interrelationships that exist between the body systems, including pet allergies. Ultimately, it all relates to the circulation of energy or “life force” – Qi (pronounced “chee”) which may seem very subtle, but there are many cases where pets have seen significant improvement with this alternative and “timeless” medicine.

Sergeant was a 13 year old Rat Terrier with seasonal itch, as well as fly-biting seizures. Monthly acupuncture treatments significantly reduced Sergeant’s itchiness, and his seizures. Because he was particular about his diet, the only other change in his life was an evening walk in addition to acupuncture. Sergeant’s Chinese Medicine Veterinarian told his caregivers to help move and regenerate his “Qi” as much as possible, enabling blood circulation and eliminating stagnation in his body. Everyone started sleeping well including Sergeant with this advice, as the senior dog started to get better when nothing else would offer relief!

Pet Wellbeing offers many formulations with the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine to target the underlying imbalance and restore health from the inside out. For example, Itch Support Gold is a drug-free alternative that addresses the physiological mechanisms that cause the skin (including on the paws) to become uncomfortable, red, and sometimes unbearably itchy. It works for hot spots, itching, scratching and itchy paws caused by a known or unknown allergy, without the harmful side effects commonly associated with long-term use of prescription medications.

Itch Support Gold is a combination of nine herbal ingredients for skin-related symptoms when pets come into contact with an allergen (a substance that triggers an allergic reaction). Skin conditions due to allergies are an increasingly common disorder in pets and are one of the most frequent causes for visits to the veterinarian.


Understanding Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) Therapy and its 5 aspects:  Acupuncture, Herbal therapy, Food therapy, Massage (Tui-na) and Exercise. All 5 aspects have a proven record of helping pets with allergies and other common ailments.

The body receives Qi by breathing in clean air and eating good food. The Stomach digests the food and sends the result to the Spleen (the intestinal tract, in conventional medicine). (Grammatically, the organs are capitalized to denote the Chinese function as opposed to what we think of in conventional medicine.)

The Spleen separates the digested food into clean and dirty portions: The dirty portion goes to the Kidney for excretion, the clean portion is lifted to mist the Lungs. The Lungs distribute water and fluids to the body surface – the Skin. Meanwhile, the Lungs breathe in Qi and combine that with the fluids, nutrients, and Qi from food, distributing that to the rest of the body via the Heart. 

Chinese Veterinary Medicine Treats Pet Allergies

The elegance of this explanation relates perfectly to everything we’ve described as evidenced through Western medicine. The allergic patient may have lung issues, skin issues or both; what the patient inhales has a direct effect on allergies (like inhaled allergens in atopy and asthma) as well as what he eats (cutaneous allergic food reaction or food allergy). TCVM theory has very useful ways of diagnosing and treating allergies.

TCVM diagnoses will be made based on the clinical presentation. For example, if a dog is scratching, it could be diagnosed with External Wind. Picture trees swaying with the wind in springtime; hear the movement with the rustling of leaves. That sound is quite similar to what our pets sound like when they are scratching. Thus, it is termed Wind. (Capital letters denote TCVM theory, separate from English meaning.)

Most hot spots are warm, red, sticky, and sometimes have odor. Often, this condition is diagnosed as Damp Heat Skin in TCVM. Feline asthma usually presents with some variation of Lung Deficiency. If the cat likes to sleep in the sun (to warm up), it may indicate Lung Yang Deficiency; while laying by the air conditioning register could indicate Lung Yin Deficiency.

  • To treat Wind, the treatment principle is to move Blood so the Wind will subside.
  •  To treat Damp Heat Skin, the treatment principle is to drain Damp and cool Heat.
  • Lung Yin Deficiency will be treated to strengthen the Lung and Yin, and open airways.

Using the principles of TCVM, the practitioner can do much to treat the allergy patient. Most TCVM practitioners will use acupuncture, herbal therapy and food to treat their patients.

Chinese massage works by stimulating the acupuncture channels or “meridians”, moving Blood and Qi. Exercise also stimulates Blood circulation and movement of Qi; it also helps itchy pets sleep better. 

Exercise and Blood circulation causes Wind to suicide, decreasing itch.


Introduction to TCVM principles: 

Chinese massage works by stimulating the acupuncture channels or “meridians”, moving Blood and Qi. Exercise also stimulates Blood circulation and movement of Qi; it also helps itchy pets sleep better. 

Exercise and Blood circulation causes Wind to suicide, decreasing itch.

Sergeant was a 13 year old Rat Terrier with seasonal itch, as well as fly-biting seizures. Monthly acupuncture treatments significantly reduced Sergeant’s itchiness, and his seizures. Because he was particular about his diet, the only other change in his life was an evening walk. Everyone started sleeping well.

Two great references to further your understanding of Chinese medicine are: “Four Paws, Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Dogs and Cats”, by Cheryl Schwartz and “The Web that has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine”, by Ted J Kaptchuk

There are specific, well-studied and tested acupuncture points, as can be found in the peer-reviewed literature, to decrease overproduction of some of the cellular chemicals that are involved in allergies. The TCVM practitioner may use these points in an acupuncture treatment. Furthermore, the owner may be sent home with instructions to stimulate those points, further benefitting the patient after the session.

For the allergy patient, food and herbal therapy will focus on treating the clinical signs – draining Damp, clearing Heat and moving Blood, as is appropriate for the patient; or strengthening the Lung “meridians” for the asthmatic. 

By combining foods or herbs that not only match the clinical presentation of the patient but also the underlying TCVM pattern, food and herbal therapy benefit the overall patient health, not just the presentation at that moment.

For example, imagine a dog with greasy, itchy skin and hot spots. The treatment principle is to move Blood so Wind suicides, clear Heat and drain Damp. With the help of your TCVM practitioner, you might formulate a recipe that includes adzuki beans, mushrooms and turkey.

A cat with asthma that has Lung Yin deficiency will do best with foods that strengthen the Lung and provide cooling to the body. Some ingredients for this kitty might include salmon, pumpkin and mushroom.

Actions of foods and herbal formulas in Traditional Chinese Medicine: 

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Note: this list is incomplete.

For a full list of Food & Herbal Formulas as well as Chinese Medicine  Herbal formulas helpful in treating allergy/asthma patients – download our Free Ebook on Pet Allergies below, or click here: 

http://www.petwellbeing.com/st/lp/ebook-guide-pet-allergies.html


 

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Read also: Itchy Pets? Skin allergy, itch and inflammation relief

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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