ABOUT OUR DOCTOR

Dr. Laurie combines conventional medicine and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) for your pet’s optimal health. She is certified and licensed in both traditional Chinese herbal medicine through the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapy and acupuncture via the Chi Institute.  Some of her special interests include dermatology, pain management, cancer supportive care, nutrition, geriatric and palliative care, dentistry, preventative medicine, and behavior.

Natural medicine harnesses the healing power of nature and the patient’s own capacity to heal. Art, science, and philosophy combine to treat the whole pet and prevent disease. Scientific advances and evidence based medicine provide a strong foundation in a continually evolving field. 

INTEGRATIVE APPOINTMENTS

Qi (pronounced chee), or Life Force, is the flow of energy through the body. In illness, qi can be obstructed or stuck causing pain and chronic disease. TCVM aims to restore the flow of qi and bring health back into balance. Please keep in mind, the majority of patients with chronic health concerns will need regular appointments for at least 3-6 months while also following at home care instructions for the entire duration of treatment.  

The first appointment is typically scheduled for 1 hour.

Please provide us with information on previous clinics where any pertinent treatments or diagnostic tests were performed. 

In TCVM, all medical problems are linked, so it is important for us to know about past medical issues. Tell us anything that you think might be relevant!

Physical exam, Tongue and Pulse diagnosis.

 A complete physical exam will be performed with a focus on any areas of concern. Palpation of certain acupuncture points will be used to aid in diagnosis. The tongue color, shape, and general characteristics will be evaluated. Is the tongue red and dry (heat condition), or is it wet with a coating (damp condition)? The pulse will also be palpated. This is usually done on the inside of the hind limbs while the pet is standing. Is the pulse full and slippery (is there gastrointestinal disease?) or is it deep, thin, and weak (is there a cardiovascular condition?).

Treatment. This will be based on all of the above. 

An acupuncture treatment is typically given to all willing patients on their first visit. Acupuncture can be used to treat any health condition. Very small needles are placed in acupuncture points in different places on the body. The needles usually stay in place for about 10 minutes while the pet relaxes on a comfy bed. Electroacupuncture is used for more serious conditions and involves an electric current attached to a needle. It typically takes 20 minutes or longer. 

An herbal formula will be prescribed in addition to acupuncture. Some herbs are powerful anti-inflammatories, some have anti-cancer properties while other formulas are gentle digestives. Some medical problems are more complex and research may be needed before herbs can be prescribed. Formulas come in powders, capsules, tablets and tea pills. Most dog patients will eat their herbs in food. Most cat patients will not! Let us know if your pet is picky and we’ll choose the form that will work best. 

Food therapy is a branch of TCM that focuses on food as medicine. Diet alterations and nutritional supplements will be discussed and recommended. 

Conventional medication. In some cases, conventional medications such as oral and topical antibiotics, medicated shampoos, or pain medications will be implemented along with herbal formulas. If you prefer to avoid the use of conventional medications, please let us know. 

Treatment Response. In people, reactions to acupuncture range from laughing to crying and most people report a feeling of profound relaxation. Many pets enjoy acupuncture and become relaxed during treatment, while some are a little nervous, but still experience a benefit after they leave the clinic. Rarely, some conditions are worse after acupuncture before they get better. It is best for pets to rest on the day of their appointment. It’s important to realize that a significant response to herbal therapy may not be seen for 2 weeks or more. Herbs have healing properties and are not necessarily used for symptomatic treatment. If your pet has been ill for a long time, the healing process can also be long. Patience is key!

Recheck evaluations and follow up acupuncture appointments. This appointment is typically a 15-30 minute appointment. After the initial visit, the pet should be seen within 2- 3 weeks of starting an herbal formula. If acupuncture is included in the treatment plan, it’s usually recommended once every 1-2 weeks for 4-6 weeks to provide a baseline of response. If this schedule doesn’t work for you, we are happy to work with you. Our goal is to help you and your pet.

Home observation. We encourage pet parents to keep a diary or a mental log of any changes in the pet’s mood, sleep patterns, and mobility. Even the most subtle change, can indicate improvement. 

The herbal prescriptions may change over time as the condition changes. Treatment will be adjusted based on current history, tongue and pulse diagnoses. Some patients with more acute problems may only need a few acupuncture treatments and a short course of herbs or integrative medicine. Some patients will only receive herbal therapy and some will only receive acupuncture.