Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine for Itching Dogs
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2015
S.H. Xie, DVM, PhD, MS
Chi Institute, Reddick, FL, USA

Skin diseases are the most challenging problems in the veterinary practice. Recent studies indicate that acupuncture is useful for the treatment of pruritus and atopy.1-3 Clinical studies have also shown that many herbs have significant effects relevant to the treatment of skin conditions.4-7 This presentation will focus on an integrated approach that uses acupuncture, herbal medicine and food therapy for the treatment of skin conditions in dogs.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) Etiology and Pathology

External Factors

A.  Wind: Urticaria, skin rash, rubella, itchy, dryness

B.  Dampness: Papular eruption, excretion, eczema or erosion

C.  Heat: Red and hot, sore with heat sensation, papular eruption, itching and pain, erosion with pus

D.  Parasite: Scabies (Jie Man), fungi, intestinal worm, pinworm

E.  Allergy to food/drug

Internal Factors

A.  Stagnation: Liver Qi stagnation, or Blood stagnation

B.  Blood deficiency with Wind and Dryness

C.  Deficiency of Liver & Kidney Yin

TCVM Patterns and Treatment

I. Wind-Heat

Etiology and pathology: Seasonal allergy, pollen/food allergy, springtime, external wind/heat invasion, pruritus, contact dermatitis, flea allergy dermatitis.

Clinical signs: Worse in spring and summer, pruritus, itching, scratching (upper part); tongue: red or slight dry; pulse: wiry or fast.

Food therapy: Cool/cold diets (Table 1).

Chinese herbal medicine: Xiao Feng San or Wind-Heat Toxin.

Acupuncture points: GB-20, BL-10/11/12, BL-17, SP-10, Er-jian, Wei-jian.

Other supplements: Flax seed oil, barley green powder.

II. Damp-Heat

Etiology and pathology: Dermatitis, eczema, skin rash/itching, otitis, hot spot.

Clinical signs: Eruption, erosion, redness; thick/yellow excretion with stink smell; itching, scab formation or alopecia; pulse: forceful, rapid; tongue: red.

Food therapy: Cool/cold diets (Table 1).

Chinese herbal medicine: Damp Heat Skin Formula.

Acupuncture points: Er-jian, Wei-jian, SP-6/9, ST-40, BL-17, SP-10.

Other comments: Fast one day a week.

Table 1. Cold or cool diets and food

Meats, oil & sausage

Grains and beans


Fruits and Tea





Deep ocean fish, cod

Brown rice


Bitter melon






Wheat flour





Chinese cabbage



Barley sprouts (green)

Egg plant

Gingko, persimmon (shi zi)

White fish

Seed of Job's tear (Coix)


Chrysanthemum, green tea

Sesame oil, flax seed oil


Winter melon


Sausage (wheat)

Mung bean



III. Blood Heat

Etiology and pathology: DLE, SLE, and other autoimmune-mediated diseases.

Clinical signs: Depigmentation, crusting, or erythema, ulceration of the planum nasale or skin, erosions; tongue: red or purple, pulse: surging and fast.

Food therapy: Cool/cold diets.

Chinese herbal medicine: Blood Heat Formula.

Acupuncture points: GB-20, Er-jian, Wei-jian, Liv-3, GB-34, BL-17, SP-10.

Other comments: Fast one day a week.

IV. Blood Deficiency

Etiology and pathology: Geriatric dryness, or chronic skin problems.

Clinical signs: Chronic itching, in aged animals; dandruff, dry/burned skin/haircoat, alopecia; tongue: pale and dry; pulse: deep, thready and weak.

Food therapy: Neutral or cool diets.

Chinese herbal medicine: Yang Xue Xi Feng.

Acupuncture points: SP-10, BL-17, ST-36/SP-6, An-shen, HT-7, GB-20/BL-10.

V. Deficiency of Liver and Kidney Yin

Etiology and pathology: Geriatric dryness, or chronic skin problems.

Clinical signs: Chronic itching, in aged animals; dandruff, dry skin/haircoat, alopecia, or crusting; hyperactivity or abnormal behavior at night; tongue: red or deep red, and dry; pulse: thready, deep and fast.

Food therapy: Cool diets.

Chinese herbal medicine: Yang Yin Zhi Yang.

Acupuncture points: KID-3, BL-23, SP-6/9/10, An-shen, HT-7, GB-20/BL-10.


1.  Lee KC, Keyes A, Hensley JR, Gordon JR, Kwasny MJ, West DP, Lio PA. Effectiveness of acupressure on pruritus and lichenification associated with atopic dermatitis: a pilot trial. Acupunct Med. 2012;30(1):8–11.

2.  Carlsson CP, Wallengren J. Therapeutic and experimental therapeutic studies on acupuncture and itch: review of the literature. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2010;24(9):1013–6.

3.  Qin L. [Mild moxibustion at Xuehai (SP 10) for senile pruritus] [Article in Chinese]. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2011;31(9):849.

4.  Nagle TM, Torres SM, Horne KL, Grover R, Stevens MT. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to investigate the efficacy and safety of a Chinese herbal product (P07P) for the treatment of canine atopic dermatitis. Vet Dermatol. 2001;12(5):265–274.

5.  Reichling J, Fitzi J, Hellmann K, Wegener T, Bucher S, Saller R. Topical tea tree oil effective in canine localised pruritic dermatitis - a multi-centre randomised double-blind controlled clinical trial in the veterinary practice. Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 2004;111(10):408–414.

6.  Cuéllar MJ, Giner RM, Recio MC, Màñez S, Rios JL. Topical anti-inflammatory activity of some Asian medicinal plants used in dermatological disorders. Fitoterapia. 2001;72:221–229.

7.  Yamaguchi-Miyamoto T, Kawasuji T, Kuraishi Y, Suzuki H. Antipruritic effects of Sophora flavescens on acute and chronic itch-related responses in mice. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003;26:722–724.


Speaker Information
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S.H. Xie, DVM, PhD, MS
Chi Institute
Reddick, FL, USA

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