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Healthy Paws: This Could Be the Yin to Your Pet’s Yang

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) — although relatively new to the Western world — is a medical system that has been used in China to treat animals for thousands of years. It is an adaptation and extension of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) used to treat humans and is made up of four branches: Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Food Therapy and Tui-na massage.

Speaking broadly, Chinese Medicine is a complete body of thought and practice grounded in Chinese Daoist philosophy. Though it can be traced back over two millennia in recorded history, it — like any medical system — continues to evolve today, and current research on acupuncture and herbal medicine is beginning to shed light on its mechanism of action.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, when combined with Western Veterinary Medicine, can help to promote health and prevent disease in animals.

Common FAQs About Acupuncture

Q: What is acupuncture?

It is the insertion of needles into specific points on the body to produce a healing response. These points are related to internal organs and can help many different ailments. It is most commonly used to relieve musculoskeletal issues, such as arthritis, intervertebral disk disease and even some nerve injuries. However, it can also be used for all of the following:

  • Respiratory problems, such as feline asthma
  • Skin problems, such as skin irritation secondary to allergies
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel disease and chronic diarrhea
  • Geriatric medicine, such as chronic kidney failure and some cases of heart failure
  • Behavior issues, such as separation anxiety
  • Promotes quality of life after a diagnosis of cancer

Acupuncture stimulates nerves, increases blood circulation, relieves muscle spasms and releases endorphins in the body to aid in the healing process. Combining acupuncture, massage therapy, and herbal therapy can make wonderful tools for your pet’s health.

Q: Is acupuncture painful?

For most animals, insertion of the needles is virtually painless. They are very thin and once the needles are inserted, there should be no pain. Most animals become extremely relaxed and some will fall asleep! Some common sensations after needle insertion are tingling, mild numbness and heat at the needle points.

Q: Is acupuncture safe for animals?

If administered by a properly trained veterinarian, acupuncture can be one of the safest forms of medical treatment for animals. Some animals will experience lethargy or sleepiness after the first few treatments, but side effects such as nausea or GI upset are rarely seen.

Q: How can my pet benefit from acupuncture?

Acupuncture blocks pain responses, increases serotonin levels and relaxes muscles. All of these effects are useful in most commonly-seen conditions with animals. In addition, it can help to balance organ functions and normalize energy (Qi) flow, which is the goal of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.

How to Get Acupuncture for Your Pet

Clarendon Animal Care is proud to announce the addition of Dr. Darleen Nath to our staff. In addition to being trained in western medicine and earning her DVM degree from Tuskegee University in Tennessee, she attended The Chi Institute in Gainesville, FL to become a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist in 2014. She has also completed the coursework for her certification in Tui Na massage therapy.

If you are interested in acupuncture for your pets, please call the clinic to set up an initial consultation appointment with Dr. Nath. The first visit will include a traditional western exam, a traditional eastern exam and the first acupuncture session.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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