All pet owners want their pets to enjoy good health and happiness. One pathway to that goal is paying attention to what your pet eats from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
This sounds daunting, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, we’ll help get you started.
Food Energetics in TCM is all about how the food we eat impacts how well our body is able to adapt to its environment and stay in a healthy balance.
The basic foundation of Food Energetics categorizes foods as Cooling, Neutral, or Warming. The first step in applying this idea is to observe your pet and start to notice their habits and potential health imbalances.
- Does your pet have trouble with hot weather, and even pants a lot when it’s not hot?
- Do they routinely seek out cool floors to nap on?
- Do they have red or itchy skin?
- Are loose stools a common occurrence?
- Do you suspect allergies?
- Is their behavior “over the top?”
If some of these sound familiar then your pet would benefit from Cooling foods in their diet. A few examples of cooling foods are:
- BOK CHOY
- Does your pet seek out warm and snuggly sleeping spots?
- Is their appetite hit or miss?
- Is their energy sluggish?
- Are they elderly and frail?
- Are they recently rescued and need to gain weight and vitality?
If some of these sound familiar then your pet would benefit from Warming foods in their diet. A few examples of warming foods are:
- LAMB (lamb is actually considered “Hot”)
- GOAT MILK
Neutral foods are perhaps the most important category that every pet should have in their diet. You don’t want to feed your pet an extreme diet of only cooling or only warming foods, you want to work toward balance in the body. Including neutral foods also improves variety in the diet. A few examples of neutral foods are:
- BEEF TRIPE
- SWEET POTATO
- GREEN BEANS
It’s easy (and helpful) to combine foods from different categories, especially when you think beyond just the meat part of the diet.
- Cooling meats with neutral veggies
- Neutral meats with cooling veggies
- Warm meats with neutral veggies
- Etc… experiment!
Cooking foods moves them higher on the temperature scale
All cooking styles warm foods, but feeding them in a dry format is the extreme version. Dry food (aka kibble) is always going to be a much warmer version of any food, and is usually placed high in temperature assessments. Feeding cooling toppers helps, such as appropriately chosen raw veggies and raw meats, but if your dog suffers from chronic health imbalances this is another reason to feed more fresh food.
Learn to observe how these changes affect your pet, and know that their needs will change over time.
Basic food energetics like these examples are a good place you can start on your own learning how food affects different bodies. It’s important to know, though, that there is much more to it too (foods that help specific organ systems, that “resolve damp” or “clear stagnation,” foods that are “Yin tonics,” and so on), so relying on these temperature basics alone may not get your pet to their perfect balance. Working with a vet or non-vet practitioner who uses Traditional Chinese Medicine principles will help you learn more.