Fort Collins, Colo. -- Looking at a dog's tongue to diagnose illness may not be the best method, research from Colorado State University shows.
Fort Collins, Colo.
-- Looking at a dog's tongue to diagnose illness may not be the best method, research from Colorado State University shows.
The research, conducted by the university's Center for Comparative and Integrative Pain Medicine, looked at the reliability of Chinese tongue diagnosis to identify cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal pain.
For those practicing traditional Chinese medicine, an increasing trend, the patient's diagnosis and treatment often depends heavily on the appearance of the tongue, and tongue diagnosis constitutes perhaps the most important part of the examination of the patient. Tongue diagnosis has been practiced on humans for thousands of years.
The study found that while tongue diagnosis for cardiovascular disease may be used as an initial assessment tool, it should not be relied upon for an accurate diagnosis, according to the center's director, Dr. Narda G. Robinson. Robinson is also a veterinarian, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and a professor in the university's Department of Clinical Sciences.
"While complementary medicine can often benefit animals when approached rationally and judiciously, this study emphasizes that relying as heavily as some do on folkloric methods such as Chinese tongue diagnosis and probably other methods as well, such as pulse diagnosis, is not in the animal's best interest," he says.
The evidence was similar for the bony bi study.
"The results of this study do suggest that some relationships do exist between tongue appearance and bony bi syndrome," Robinson said. "However, although the study found some correlations between cracks and low spirit with dogs with bony bi, tongue appearance varied widely among dogs affected with bony bi. That indicates that using the tongue to diagnose bony bi syndrome is somewhat subjective. A much more definitive approach in this day and age would include a palpation examination and gait analysis, as well as radiographs when indicated."
Both research projects were conducted by Robinson; Stephanie L. Shaver, a professional veterinary medicine student; and Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie, head of the community practice unit at Colorado State's Veterinary Teaching Hospital.