Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Bucks and Montgomery Counties PA

Double Down on Healing

May 01, 2020 05:03PM ● By David MacDonald

When treating animal patients, a holistic veterinarian may use many modalities in addressing the spectrum of ailments that present in veterinary hospitals every day. A particular strength of holistic veterinary medicine is that a synergy exists between modalities, and outcomes are often achieved beyond that which each individual component of care could offer by itself. An excellent example of this synergy is when acupuncture and chiropractic are used in treating pets. 


Acupuncture has been successfully used in animal patients for many decades and has now been accepted as an effective and safe method of treatment within veterinary medicine as a whole. Acupuncture has wide applications, helping with osteoarthritis, degenerative neurologic disease, digestive issues, dermatologic disease and many other conditions. Many pets benefit from acupuncture with no side effects or interference with other medications or therapies. 

Acupuncture, as understood through the concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine, addresses the state of health of the individual as a reflection of balance when healthy and imbalance when illness occurs.

        The foundation of Chinese medicine has, at its core, a rigorous consideration of the body’s function that is several thousand years old, and it uses terminology that might be confusing to modern physicians. The most astounding thing about Chinese medicine is that these early concepts are still an accurate depiction of the how the body functions. The modern scientific understanding of the body gained in the last 200 years does not supplant the earlier Chinese medicine beliefs; rather it simply offers further detail in understanding its operation. Modern medicine and Chinese medicine, when combined, provide additional medical thought on the patient’s circumstances, offering greater insight into the nuances of care. 

Acupuncture treatment is directed at correcting imbalances through the use of stainless-steel needles at acupuncture points—precisely localized access points in the physical body that alter the physiologic state locally and systemically. The therapeutic effects of acupuncture occur through initiating changes in blood flow and the release of biochemicals that have a physiologic influence on pain and inflammation, and that improve support for compromised tissues in the body. 


Acupuncture has great impact on the body overall, and as such has been widely embraced in veterinary medicine. While recognizing its great effect, it is not possible for acupuncture to correct all the physical problems encountered in veterinary medicine. In the same way that Chinese medicine extends the effects of conventional medicine, other therapies improve the effects of acupuncture. It is recognized clinically that chiropractic, when used in conjunction with acupuncture offers even further benefits. 

Chiropractic exerts its main influences through the nervous system. Consider the impact of this—practically all parts of the body have nerves that go to and from the nervous system. That is to say that sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose, mouth), visceral organs (digestive, urinary, cardiovascular) and musculoskeletal tissue (muscles, tendons and ligaments) are all influenced by nerves, and are thus accessible to modulation through chiropractic treatments. 

Chiropractic care involves adjustments of the central nervous system through manipulation of the spinal vertebrae, as well as treatment of the peripheral nervous system in the extremities. Chiropractic adjustments are quick and painless, and the influence on the nervous system is immediate. 

Appropriate chiropractic care can be successful in conjunction with other modalities such acupuncture, because its influence on the nervous system modulates such a pervasive element of the body function. It’s almost as if chiropractic eliminates the background static on a radio station. Thus, the symphonic playing of the other treatments (such as acupuncture) is more readily accomplished. 

In formulating treatment plans for animal patients, the combined efforts of multiple modalities should be considered in a methodical manner, rather than taking a kitchen sink approach. In using chiropractic and acupuncture together, a true synergy is achieved because each element has a known influence and each factor helps the other perform more successfully. 

This example of holistic veterinary practice stands as a representative model of what holistic veterinarians strive for. The result is that truly comprehensive health care is achieved with assurance each time. 

Dr. David MacDonald is a veterinarian with Doylestown Veterinary Hospital & Holistic Pet Care, located at 380 N. Shady Retreat Rd. He is a certified veterinary acupuncturist (CVA) and a certified veterinary spinal manipulative therapist (CVSMT). To request an appointment, call 215-345-6000. For more information, visit

Sign Up For Our Free Digital Magazine!
Click The Cover To Read The Current Issue


COVID-19 Guidelines From the CDC
Cool Solution
Learn More About Natural Awakenings