People try all sorts of things to help their pets live a healthy life – regular vet visits, exercise and a balanced diet, to name just a few.
One new way that is making its way into our dog’s routine comes from the East.
Chinese medicine, which includes Chinese herbs, is becoming more mainstream in American human and veterinary medicine, says veterinarian Rachel Barrack, who is certified in veterinary acupuncturist and Chinese herbology. “I think as people strive to lead more natural and organic lifestyles themselves this trickles down into the care they seek for their furry family members.”
Unlike its Western counterpart, which is great to treat short-term disease, like kennel cough or pneumonia, Chinese medicine is used to treat chronic conditions, such as arthritis.
Traditional Chinese medicine focuses on the underlying cause of disease, not just the symptoms manifested in each individual patient, says Barrack
The herbs, often used in conjunction with acupuncture and other alternative medicine techniques, enhance and lengthen the effects. Available in capsules, powder and tablets, the uses run the gamut, including helping with skin diseases, behavioral issues and gastrointestinal issues, like diarrhea and vomiting.
Now, don’t go running out and buying Chinese herbs for your dog; you could end up doing more harm than good. Just like traditional medicine, a vet needs to examine your dog, discuss his ailments and develop a plan.
“It is paramount to think of Chinese herbs as medications,” says Barrack. “They should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian who is licensed in acupuncture and Chinese herbology.
Look for a vet, that is certified in this practice, can provide referrals and only uses top-of-the-line herbs.
“In order to ensure the best product and yield the maximum results, I prescribe only the highest quality herbs,” says Dr. Barrack. “They contain no animal by-products, endangered plant species or heavy metals and are subjected to stringent quality control.”
And while people are just starting to realize the benefits of Chinese herbs for their dog’s conditions, Barrack says this is just the beginning.
“I think once people experience the benefits of Chinese medicine for themselves and their pets, the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbology, either in conjunction or in lieu of Western medications, will grow here in the US.”