TCVM Consultation: What To Expect During A Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine Exam

The TCVM exam is quite different from what you’re normally used to.

While the individual experience might vary with different practitioners, most things should be the same.

The first thing Jasmine noticed as she walked into our TCVM vet’s exam room was the lack of an exam table! Yay! A good reason to like the place! Instead, our TCVM vet had a little bed in the room, which Jasmine finds very comfortable.

TCVM Consultation: What To Expect During A Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine Exam

TCVM versus integrative veterinary medicine

A few professionals practice TCVM alone, but most of the time, you’ll find veterinarians who combine the advantages of TCVM and modern veterinary medicine—integrative veterinarians.

The certifications an integrative veterinarian might have include:

  • TCVM Practitioner (CTCVMP)
  • Acupuncturist (CVA)
  • Food Therapist (CVFT)
  • Chinese Herbalist (CVCH) 
  • Tui-na Practitioner (CVTP)

One place where you can find a qualified veterinarian near you is the Chi University directory. They have a locator both for the USA and other countries.

An integrative veterinarian is likely to employ other modalities such as cell therapies, physical therapy, etc. I find the multi-modal approach offers a broad selection of choices for care for my dog’s health.

Be prepared for your first TCVM exam

Expect the initial TCVM visit to last about an hour. A good deal of this time will be spent going over your dog’s history and behavior. Yeah, a good reason to have a comfy bed for the dog! Jasmine thought that it was a lovely idea.


Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine pays detailed attention to your dog’s history of medical issues, habits, quirks, and preferences. They are all important clues your TCVM vet will include in the diagnosis, however trivial they might seem.

Does your dog prefer firm or soft surfaces? Dot they seek cool or warm places to rest? Do they chase bunnies in his dreams? What symptoms did you notice in your dog, and when do they most likely occur? All of these things are relevant. The more observant you are about your dog’s habits and behavior, the more helpful it will be to the diagnosis. You might want to jot down some notes before your visit.

With a large number of Jasmine’s issues, we kept a detailed chart that included many details. Sometimes it is hard to rely on memory alone. Such a chart also helps you track the progress your dog is making. Both gradual decline and gradual improvement are often hard to notice.

If you have any recent blood tests and x-rays, bring them with you also.


There is very little probing and prodding during the TCVM exam through a stethoscope does come into play. Another thing Jasmine truly appreciated – no thermometer!

Your TCVM vet will thoroughly observe your dog. He will watch your dog’s behavior during the visit. In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, an emotional response is linked to the condition of different organ systems. He will assess your dog’s skin and coat, eyes, tongue, body shape and constitution, muscle tone, and gait.

Tongue diagnosis

This is quite fascinating. There is a whole science behind how different areas of the tongue reflect the state of respective internal organs. The tongue shape, color, texture, and coating provide an amazing amount of information. Just as the eyes are windows to the soul, the tongue seems to be a window to the body.

Sounds (auscultation)

Your TCVM vet will listen to the chest the same way you’re familiar with. The force and character of the breathing are also taken into account. The sounds your dog makes when moving, such as grunts, groans, or whines, are also considered.

Physical exam (palpation)

This is seemingly a more typical part of the exam. Your TCVM vet will feel the abdomen and limbs, evaluate your dog’s pulse and test what is called diagnostic points.

The pulse diagnosis is also quite complex. There are as many as seventeen pulse qualities to be evaluated in the TCVM exam! The diagnostic points are, simply put, acupuncture points used in diagnosis. Each of them corresponds to a respective internal organ. Sensitivity at particular points indicates a problem in the corresponding organ.

If a sensitive point is touched, your dog might growl or snap. This is quite normal and your TCVM vet is ready for that.

Scent (olfaction)

This part I was really looking forward to seeing! But our vet was very subtle about it, probably after enough ‘less educated’ owners weirded out. What a disappointment!

The olfaction part of the TCVM exam consists of checking your dog’s eyes, nose, mouth, and ears for odors. This is also quite fascinating—problems in different organs present with typical smells.

Dogs can often detect cancer or another disease, and I’d have to assume mostly by smell. Infection smells like grapes, and diabetes comes with a fruity sweet smell. In the case of TCVM, the roles are reversed.


This is roughly what you can expect when taking your dog to a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine practitioner for your initial consultation. After the thorough exam, your TCVM vet will fit all the pieces of the puzzle together and come up with a treatment plan, which might include food therapy, massage, acupuncture, and herbal therapy.

Related articles:
When Modern Medicine Doesn’t Have the Answer: TCVM
The Theory behind the Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

Further reading:
What can you and your pet expect at your first TCVM appointment!

Categories: Alternative treatmentsIntegrative veterinary medicineTraditionad Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM)

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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