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A Tale of Two Veterinarians: Unraveling the Mysteries of Canine Liver Health through Western Medicine and TCVM

Celebrate World Liver Day today April 19th with this tale of two vets!

Once upon a time in a magical land of canine health and wellness, there lived two wise veterinarians, Dr. Woof and Dr. Paw, who devoted their lives to understanding and nurturing the well-being of dogs. They shared a deep fascination for the liver, a vital organ that played a crucial role in maintaining the health and harmony of their four-legged friends.

Dr. Woof, a Western veterinary expert, understood that the liver had many essential functions in a dog’s body, such as filtering toxins, metabolizing drugs, producing proteins, and storing energy. Dr. Paw, a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) practitioner, saw the liver as the conductor of a dog’s vital energy or “Qi,” ensuring the smooth flow of emotions, blood, and energy throughout the body. In TCVM, the liver was also associated with the wood element, responsible for growth, change, and movement.

Dr. Paw explained to Dr. Woof that the liver meridians, or energy pathways, were intricately connected to other parts of a dog’s body. The liver was closely linked to the gallbladder, forming a paired organ system responsible for the smooth flow of Qi and blood. This partnership influenced the health of a dog’s eyes and tendons, as the liver governed the nourishment and flexibility of these structures.

He further elaborated on the patterns that could emerge when liver Qi stagnated or when liver yang began to rise. Liver Qi stagnation could cause emotional issues, such as irritability, aggression, or mood swings. When Liver yang rose, it could lead to symptoms like bloodshot eyes, restlessness, increased thirst, or even seizures in severe cases.

One day, they noticed their beloved dog, Fido, was showing signs of liver distress. Dr. Woof observed jaundice, fatigue, and swelling in Fido’s legs and abdomen. Dr. Paw recognized irritability, mood swings, and a reddened tongue, indicating that Fido’s liver Qi was stagnant. The also noticed that Fido was restless between 1am and 3am almost every night. It seems that Fido’s problems started at the start of spring. They agreed that they needed to check Fido’s liver health.

Dr. Woof conducted blood tests and imaging studies to diagnose Fido’s condition from a Western perspective. Dr. Paw, on the other hand, examined Fido’s tongue, pulse, temperature, body signs and symptoms, and overall demeanor to assess his liver health through TCVM principles.

As they discussed their findings, they agreed that Fido’s liver needed some help. They decided to start with food therapy, knowing the liver craves certain nutrients. Dr. Woof suggested lean proteins, whole grains, and leafy greens. Dr. Paw added bitter and pungent foods, like dandelion and milk thistle, which, according to TCVM food therapy, have energetic qualities that can support liver health. Both plants have serrated leaves, indicating their ability to cut through stagnant Qi and toxins, promoting smooth flow within the body.

They also decided to provide Fido with supplements to support liver function. Dr. Woof recommended milk thistle and SAM-e, while Dr. Paw chose herbs like bupleurum and peony to soothe the liver and alleviate stagnation.

They agreed that even though turmeric had some healing properties, it was too hot as an energy. Even though it can help stimulate circulation, dispel coldness, and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body. However, for dogs like their beloved Fido who was already warm constitution wise, and had excess heat signs (e.g., red eyes, panting, restlessness, or skin irritations), turmeric might not be the best choice, as it could potentially aggravate his condition by adding more heat to his body.

Dr. Paw shared how a TCVM doctor would treat liver imbalance using acupuncture, herbs, and food therapy. They decided to apply acupressure on Fido’s key points, such as the Liver 3 (Taichong) and Gallbladder 34 (Yanglingquan) to help regulate the flow of Qi and blood.

Fido’s condition improved significantly, and the doctors knew they had more to learn from each other.

And so, Dr. Woof and Dr. Paw embarked on a journey to deepen their understanding of the mysteries of canine health, blending the wisdom of Western veterinary medicine and TCVM to create a harmonious, balanced world.

Together, they continued to heal and restore the well-being of countless dogs in the magical land, where both ancient and modern wisdom thrived, and the remarkable liver held the key to health and vitality. Their collaboration opened up new avenues for treating and caring for their canine patients, incorporating a holistic approach that acknowledged the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit.

Fido, now happy and healthy, frolicked through the fields, grateful for the gentle touch and expert care of Dr. Woof and Dr. Paw. The veterinarians smiled, knowing they had made a difference in the life of their beloved friend, and continued to spread their knowledge of the liver, its meridians, and the importance of the wood element in a dog’s life.

As the seasons passed and spring returned each year, Dr. Woof and Dr. Paw paid special attention to their wood element dogs, ensuring they received the care and nourishment they needed to maintain balance and harmony within their bodies. And so, their legacy of love and healing lived on, touching the lives of countless dogs and their families in the enchanting land of canine health and wellness.

In the harmonious state of Dao, we embrace the wisdom of East and West, merging ancient and modern modalities to create a unified dance of healing, balance, and vitality.

Hannah Zulueta

Interested in Chinese Medicine?

I have found a deep love in the Eastern approach to healing. I am sharing some resources with you:

Note: Some links in this article are affiliate links (Amazon Associates or other programs I participate in). At no charge to you, as an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  


Whole-Pet Healing: A Heart-to-Heart Guide to Connecting with and Caring for Your Animal Companion

Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs: Maximizing Health with Whole Foods, Not Drugs

Four Paws, Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs

Acupuncture Points on the Dog

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Author Biography

Hannah Zulueta obtained her Certificate in Canine Nutrition from CASI Institute. She is also studying for her Doctorate in Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Herbalism from the esteemed Pacific College of Health and Medicine.

She resides in San Diego with her three dogs, Maggie, Orbit, and Mr. Higgins.

She is available for one on one consultations. Additionally, you can find her sharing free content on Instagram.

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