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Pictured above is a sorrel quater horse weating a western style halter.


Dr. Daly will soon become a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA). She received her training in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) at the Chi Institute in Reddick, FL. Dr. Daly is excited to bring TCVM to horses Midcoast and Central Maine. She is always happy to discuss the many benefits of these therapies with horse owners. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

What Is Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, food therapy and medical massage to correct imbalances and promote healing. TCVM has been practice for thousands of years, gaining popularity in the United States within the past 50 years. A well founded body of research support the neurophysiological mechanisms and numerous benefits of acupuncture both in the human and animal medical fields. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners have recognized and support the use of acupuncture in the practice of veterinary medicine. 


TCVM can be used alone and can also be integrated with western medical therapies often improving results than if using western medicine alone. Interested in learning more? Check out this PBS Spotlight on TCVM featuring Dr. Xie of the Chi Institute and Dr. Xie's Jing Tang Herbal pharmacy.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture, one of the main branches of TCVM, is the placement of very small, sterile needles at specific points in the body along channels known as meridians. Each point has specific functions the use of which is determined by the animals TCVM diagnosis. Acupuncture is a safe and non-invasive form of treatment. 

How Does Acupuncture Work And What Are The Benefits?

In TCVM it is believed that energy, called "Qi", flows along the acupuncture meridians and can become blocked at specific points. This blockage is called “stagnation.” Healing occurs when energy flow and balance is restored. From a western perspective, the acupuncture points correspond with important underlying structures - nerves, blood vessels, and myofascial planes - and needling results in local and systemic benefits through the release of endorphins and neurotransmitters, improved circulation and blocking pain stimuli to the central nervous system.

These benefits include:

  • Reduction pain and inflammation

  • Activation of immune and metabolic systems

  • Hormonal and homeostatic regulation

  • Improved circulation and healing

  • Relaxation of muscle

  • Improved nerve function

What Horses Can Benefit From Acupuncture And Herbal Medicine?

From young to old, performance to retired, tall to short; any horse can benefit from acupuncture!  Not only is TCVM used successfully for the treatment of many equine conditions, but it’s also excellent for performance enhancement and general preventative medicine.

What Conditions Can Acupuncture Treat?

Acupuncture, and TCVM in general, can be used to treat many of the same equine conditions that commonly cause us to seek out western medical therapies. TCVM and western medicine each have their strengths and weaknesses. It is when we use them together that we truly get the best of both worlds - complementary medicine!

Some of these conditions include:

  • Musculoskeletal problems, such as back soreness, arthritis, and laminitis

  • Gastrointestinal disorders, such as diarrhea and non-surgical colic

  • Neurological problems, including radial neuropathy

  • Respiratory conditions, such as heaves

  • Other chronic conditions including poorly healing wounds, anhidrosis, skin disease and allergies, immune and metabolic disorders, infertility, hormonal dysregulation

  • Behavioral problems, such as aggression and anxiety

Do Horses Tolerate Acupuncture Well?

The majority of horses enjoy acupuncture with many of them relaxing deeply during their session! Dr. Daly works with each individual horse to understand their energy, tolerance levels and needs. A successful outcome is not based by the number of needles used. It is most important to make the proper TCVM diagnosis and treatment plan - sometimes that takes 3 needles and sometimes it takes 20. On average, needles will stay in for 20-30 minutes, but some may only last a few seconds. As with most things, horses develop an increasing level of trust with each successive acupuncture session. For certain personalities and TCVM constitution that are very challenging to needle, Dr. Daly offers therapeutic laser services substituting the laser for acupuncture needles. 

How Long Does It Take To See Results? Will My Horse Need More Than One Acupuncture Session To See A Response?

Horses are wonderfully responsive to acupuncture. Almost all horses with have an immediate noticeable response during their acupuncture session. You will likely see their body relax, licking and chewing, and they may even fall asleep! It usually takes 24-48 hours to see the full response to a session. New patients, as well as old patients with a new problem, are seen more frequently and often require 3 to 4 session to resolve or improve upon a particular concern. To capitalize on these benefits, we recommend that our patients have acupuncture therapy on a somewhat regular basis. Regularity is 100% dependent on the individual, but are usually spaced out to every 4 to 6 weeks, or as needed. Herbal medications are a very beneficial addition to your horse’s treatment plan. They are usually recommended for one to six months depending on the condition and disease pattern diagnosed.

What Should I Expect At My Horse’s First Appointment?

The first appointment is using the longest, often lasting more than an hour. At this appointment we discuss your horse's medical history, current medications and supplements, and your primary concerns and/or goals for your horse. Based on our discussion and the exam findings, a treatment plan will be recommended - often including both TCVM and western medical recommendations.  In addition to dry needling, additional techniques are often used to increase simulation, including electroacupuncture (a small electric current between needles), moxibustion (burning of Moxa at an acupoint), and aqua-acupuncture (injection of B12, blood or other substance at an acupoint). In general we recommend that your horse have the day of and occasional the day after their acupuncture session off from training. Acupuncture is meant to move energy within the body, a process that is fatiguing to some horses.  

Can Anyone Perform Acupuncture On Animals Or Only Veterinarians?

In the state of Maine, acupuncture fall under the veterinary practicing act stating that only licensed veterinarians are allowed to perform acupuncture on animals. There are three main veterinary acupuncture certification programs in the United States, and all of these programs require many hours of classroom learning, hands-on practice, and written and practical examinations to become certified. We recommend to horse owners, or pet owners of any variety, that you only use veterinary acupuncture services when they are performed by a licensed veterinarian who is also a certified acupuncturist.

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