With the advent of Spring, we are starting to see an increase in our itchy and scratchy patients. Itchy pets can find relief with Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine too!
Allergies are not only a challenge to manage in humans, they are a bane in veterinary medicine as well. Diagnosis and treatment can be very complicated in Western medicine and can require a lot of patience as various management strategies fall under a “trial and error” qualification. We all know or have experienced the fact that allergies can’t be cured, only managed. In conventional medicine, common diagnostic tools can include serum allergy testing, intradermal skin testing and skin biopsy as needed. Because there are many issues that contribute to the problem, it takes a multi-modal approach to solve it. Skin scrapings, bacterial or fungal cultures and food trials can also be recommended to detect associated causes of skin infection or inflammation. Elimination of allergens from the body and the environment, and the administration of over-the-counter antihistamines, steroids and immune modulating agents, like Apoquel or Cytopoint, are conventional treatment methods. Occasionally, antibiotics might be needed to control the skin infections secondary to the allergies.
When we look at allergic skin disease from a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) perspective, we are dealing with disease causing external/environmental factors described in Chinese medicine as Wind, Heat and Damp. Wind causes itching and combines with either Heat or Damp to give us the signs we see associated with allergies. The common patterns we see for allergic dermatitis, or Shi Zhen, are External Wind, Wind-Heat and Damp Heat and acupuncture, herbs and food therapy can be of great help. Acupuncture points are chosen to stimulate areas supporting the immune system as well as calming points to help provide relief for these itchy patients. Herbal formulas such as External Wind and Damp Heat Skin can provide relief with either the uncomplicated or chronically affected pet, respectively. And Gu Qi, or the energy found in food, is an often overlooked approach to offering relief in the allergic patient. For example, a dog that is scratching and has red skin, rapid pulses and a red tongue is displaying signs of too much heat. Cooling/Neutral foods can provide balance when offered as a protein (rabbit, whitefish, beef), vegetables (cucumbers, lettuce, spinach), fruits (apples, melon, plums) and grains/beans (barley, green mung beans, black beans). Avoid food items such as chicken, lamb, shrimp, cherries, rice and corn as they add more heat, making your pet more uncomfortable with their allergies. Another tip – canned or fresh diets, with moisture, are more cooling than dry or extruded diets. The addition of probiotics and other immune boosting supplements offer another level of support managing allergies.
Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, or TCVM, is a mode of veterinary medicine that can be used to help in a variety of conditions such as management of orthopedic disease and pain, treatment of nerve injuries and diseases, management of gastrointestinal disorders, control of seizure disorders, support of a healthy immune system and organ function, treatment of respiratory problems and treatment of inflammation…..as well as allergies! Please watch this video, aired on PBS, https://youtu.be/nTvqh7E4byo to learn more about TCVM practices.
In the month of May, come in for a TCVM consult and receive 10% off your initial exam. Whether your pet is suffering from allergies, or something else, we can suggest some alternative methods to managing the comfort of your dog or cat. Call us today!