The Use of Acupuncture and Yang Yin Xi Feng to Treat a Geriatric Dog

The Use of Acupuncture and Yang Yin Xi Feng to Treat a Geriatric Dog

by Donna Hein, DVM, CVA, Tomball, TX

Author: Chi Institute/Thursday, October 16, 2014/Categories: TCVM Newsletter, 2014 Summer Issue

Gus was referred to me on January 28, 2013 for ataxia from an equine acupuncturist who had performed one acupuncture treatment to no avail. The dog had not been treated with conventional western medicine but only Chinese medicine. 

Western Examination and Diagnosis

Gus was a fourteen-year old, 27.8 lb, castrated, mixed breed dog. His gums were pink and had a CRT of less than two seconds. His heart rate was 90 and the respiration rate was normal.  He did have a Grade 1 systolic murmur. He had conscious proprioceptive deficits in three limbs but not in the front left leg. Occasionally he had very slight, random eye twitching that lasted a few seconds.  His pupillary reflex was normal. The rest of his physical examination was normal.

TCVM Examination and Diagnosis

The patient had an Earth Constitution and good Shen. His urination, water consumption, stools and appetite were normal.  He presented with a deep red tongue and his pulses were weak and thin but fast. He preferred warm places and soft surfaces. The primary complaint from the owner was loss of control of his rear legs (without grand mal seizures) and vocalizing at night. The owner did not notice the eye twitches.  He was fed Healthy Mobility Hills Science Diet.  My TCVM diagnosis was Internal Wind due to Yin Deficiency, plus Heart Qi Deficiency due to the Grade 1 heart murmur.

So my TCVM strategy is to nourish the Blood and Yin, clear the Internal Wind and strengthen Kidney Qi.

Acupuncture Treatment

First Treatment (1/28/13): Dry needled GV-20, GB-20, An-shen, GB-39, SP-10, BL-17, LIV-3, BL-23, BL-21 and ST-36. Electro-acupunctured Left BL-23 to Right BL-23, Left KID-1 to Right KID-1 for 10 min at 20 Hz and 20 min at 80-120 Hz. Aqua-punctured Left and Right ST-36 with Vitamin B12 0.5 ml each. 

Second Treatment (2/6/13): Patient was happy and presented with no ataxia. The owner reported that the night after the first treatment the patient’s mentation was sharp, which lasted 5 days and then declined again. His tongue was red with some small cracks.  His pulse was deep, weak and thin, with the right side weaker than the left. Dry needled GV-20, BL-20, BL-21, BL-23, GB-20, ST-36, GV-14, SP-10, BL-17, An-shen, Nao-shu and LIV-3. Electro-acupunctured Left BL-23 to Right BL-23, Left BL-17 to Right BL-17, Left BL-21 to Right BL-21 for 10 min at 20 Hz and 20 min at 80-120 Hz. Aqua-punctured Right BL-17 and Left ST-36 with Vitamin B12 of 1 ml each.

Third Treatment (2/21/13): Patient was able to sleep through the night with no ataxia. He took the herb well. His pulse was deep and weak, and his tongue was less red.

Dry needled GV-20, BL-20, BL-21, BL-23, GB-20, BL-17, SP-10, An-shen, Nao-shu and LIV-3. Electro-acupunctured the same points as the previous treatment. Aqua-punctured BL-17 bilaterally with Vitamin B12 0.5 ml each.

Fourth Treatment (3/1/13): His pulse was slightly weaker on the left. His tongue was pink and moist now. Dry needled and electro-acupunctured the same points as for the last treatment. No aqua-puncture was performed this time.

Herbal Formula

Yang Yin Xi Feng (Classical Antecedent: Yang Yin Xi Feng Tang) was dispensed at the time of the second treatment for a duration of 3 months.

Food Therapy

The owner was not able to cook for her dog but she changed his diet to duck-based food, canned and dry.  Kidney beans with ½ boiled egg at night was recommended to add on top of the food to nourish the Kidney and tonify the Blood.


The geriatric patient had small, involuntary eye movements which were very small focal seizures, or Internal Wind as regarded in TCVM.  The acute onset indicates the invasion of Wind. Yang Yin Xi Feng was used to nourish the Blood and Yin, as well as to clear the Internal Wind. His red tongue, fast pulses and the vocalization at night indicates a Yin Deficiency.  The Cornus in this herbal formula nourishes the Yin. The fact that the patient preferred warm and soft places to sleep, plus his thin pulses, could indicate a Blood Deficiency. The Paeonia and Rehmannia in the formula nourishes the Blood.  The Heart controls and governs the Blood and the Liver stores the Blood and controls the free flow of Qi Because of the relationship of Blood with the Heart and Liver, the Paeonia and Moutan are used in the formula to soothe and cool the Liver.  Since the patient is geriatric, his Kidney essence had diminished, leading to Kidney Deficiency. The Rehmannia in the herbal formula helps to nourish Kidney Jing.  

Usually, electro-acupuncture is not used in cases with seizures but this patient had not had a grand mal seizure yet.  The electro-acupuncture was purposely performed away from the head at the caudal end of the patient. The owner was aware of the consequences of inducing a seizure with the treatment but due to the age of the patient and the owner’s request not to use any conventional veterinary medicine, this was the patient’s last chance before the owner considered euthanasia.  

This geriatric patient, Gus, responded very well to the use of acupuncture and the herb.  The herb was dispensed for a duration of three months.  A follow-up phone call revealed the patient was doing very well with no ataxia, no focal seizures, no nighttime vocalization and acting like a puppy. If this patient was not treated with TCVM, he would have been euthanized.  This is another example of how TCVM returned a life to the owner and the patient.

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