Frequently Asked Questions

General

What is TCVM?


TCVM stands for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. TCVM has four different branches: acupuncture, herbal medication, food therapy and Tui-na (medical manipulation massage and accupressure). A thorough exam will help Dr. Smith to determine which branches of treatment will benefit your patient.




Do you want medical records from my primary care veterinarian? How do I send these records?


Yes, the more we know about your patient's condition the better we will be able to integrate the treatment plans. Records, lab work and imaging (radiographs, ultrasound, etc.) can be emailed to: smith@virginiasinclair.com.




Do you perform other services such as vaccinations, blood work or x-rays?


The short answer is no. As a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Smith is trained and capable of performing these services, but it is not something that Virginia Sinclair Veterinary Services offers. The services we offer are tailored to work closely with the wellness care, surgical and diagnostic services performed by your general practitioner. After each visit, a report will be sent to your primary care veterinarian. At times, Dr. Smith may recommend that you return to your general practitioner for further diagnostics.




Do you offer evening or weekend appointments?


If you require a different appointment time than those listed, please contact us and we will do our best to work with your schedule.




What is a typical appointment like?


Initial consultations are required for all new patients. This appointment allows for time to discuss your goals and helps us to decide what services/treatment will be most beneficial. We take the time to review history, pertinent lab work and imaging as well as discuss diet and any current medications. The initial consultation will also include an acupuncture treatment if we feel it is an appropriate treatment for the case. All appointments include a physical exam as well as a TCVM exam (incorporating tongue and pulse diagnosis). Dr. Smith will ask quite a few questions about your pet that may differ from those asked by your primary care veterinarian. The questions as well as tongue and pulse diagnosis may be new to you, but we ask that you remain open minded as these are important steps to achieve a TCVM diagnosis. After the initial questions/exam is when we will begin acupuncture. You can expect that your pet may be a bit more tired 24-48 hours following a treatment.




How long are appointments?


The initial consultation is approximately 90 minutes, but subsequent treatments are typically shorter- approximately 40-60 minutes.




Where is Dr. Smith's office?


Dr. Smith's practice is mobile meaning she comes to you! Everything that she will need to treat your pet can be transported to your home or barn.





Acupuncture

Can acupuncture be combined with what my primary veterinarian recommends?


Yes, yes, yes! We require that all of our patients be under the care of a general veterinary practice. There is a time and a place for everything and integrating western medicine with TCVM is how we can achieve the best results for our patients. Dr. Smith chooses to focus on TCVM and thus requires that you utilize your primary care veterinarian for western medicine. We sincerely believe that the best care will be achieved when we work as a team. In addition to a thorough examination, Dr. Smith will want to know your current concerns, she will review your animal's history, lab work and radiographs as well as discuss current medications and diet prior to making a diagnosis and treatment plan. After your appointment both you and your primary care veterinarian will receive a visit summary.




What conditions can be treated with acupuncture?


Acupuncture is utilized to treat a multitude of conditions including those listed below. If you have questions about acupuncture or whether treatment can benefit your pet, please contact us. We are more than happy to help you determine whether our services are the best option. As always, our goal is to help find the most effective treatment.

  • Musculoskeletal issues
    • Chronic pain, decreased mobility, non-specific lameness, muscle soreness
  • Neurological conditions
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic urinary tract infections/incontinence
  • Cancer
    • Can help to decrease pain, improve quality of life, stimulate appetite
  • Post-operative healing
  • Skin disease
  • Behavioral issues
  • Gastrointestinal issues
    • Diarrhea, vomiting, anorexia, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, chronic pancreaitis
  • Reproductive issues




Will these treatments work?


As is true with the majority of medicine, no treatment is 100% effective for every patient. Acupuncture does help many patients and our goal is to bring the patient to a point where it is used as more of preventative- rather than reactive- treatment. There are some patients that will have a significant improvement, even recovery from their current ailments. There is a percentage of patients that may not respond to the treatments and if we feel that your pet is not responding we will be sure to discuss further treatment options. Not only does acupuncture help a high percentage of patients, but the treatments are also gentle and have a wide margin of safety. There are rarely negative side effects to treatment and if they are seen they are often mild.




How many treatments are necessary before I see results?


This is dependent upon many different factors including the severity of the condition, chronicity and other underlying issues. Sometimes underlying conditions are not discovered until treatment begins. We ask that you plan for 3-4 treatments for more recent conditions and 4-6 treatments for conditions that are more chronic. Our goal is that once patients are feeling relief we work towards quarterly treatments for maintenance. This also allows us to begin treating issues much earlier and from a standpoint of preventative medicine.




Does acupuncture hurt? What happens if an animal doesn't like needles?


In the majority of cases, no acupuncture does not hurt. The needles used during treatment are very thin and if anything a minor prick is felt as they enter the skin. Speaking from experience- I've had worse mosquito bites! A lot of animals become very relaxed and even fall asleep during treatments. If an animal is very anxious and/or doesn't like needles we move very slowly and do not ask for more than they can handle. At times we will recommend starting with several weeks of herbal medication to begin treatment. Afterwards the animal will often tolerate acupuncture much easier.




What is electroacupuncture? What other forms of acupuncture are available?


Electroacupuncture involves attaching a machine to the acupuncture needles to deliver subtle currents. This stimulates the surrounding muscle, nerves and connective tissue. Other forms of acupuncture include aquapuncture (injecting solutions into acupuncture points- commonly saline or vitamin B12 is utilized), moxibustion (an herb is heated to deliver warmth near an acupuncture point, typically used for patients with arthritis).




How often are acupuncture treatments required?


The frequency of treatments depends on many factors including the severity and chronicity of the condition being treated. At times, treating one condition may reveal another underlying issue. Depending on the patient and specific condition, we may recommend weekly or biweekly treatments to start. We suggest that clients understand it will likely take 3-4 treatments before seeing any results for acute conditions and 4-6 treatments for chronic conditions. Some will see great improvement much sooner, but others will require additional treatment (especially issues with longer duration such as arthritis). Our goal is that once we have addressed the primary issues and the patient is feeling better, we work towards a maintenance schedule, seeing our patients quarterly to catch problems before they become more significant. Animals in heavy work often schedule appointments every 4-6 weeks so that we can detect subtle lamenesses or issues and address them earlier so as to not affect their schedule.





Herbal Medications

Why was it recommended that I use an herbal medication in addition to acupuncture?


We find it easiest to think of herbal medication as daily acupuncture sessions. Our overall goal is to achieve balance and the best quality of life possible for our patients. Herbal medications are precisely blended to treat specific conditions based upon a patient's TCVM diagnosis. We source our herbal medications from a company that has very stringent quality control. For more information on the quality control, please click here.