There is much truth to the saying, “We are what we eat”, and the same applies to our beloved pets. Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine is made up of the following modalities: acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Tui-na, food therapy, and exercise. For pets, the recommended exercise is walking because pets are not equipped to perform Tai Chi or Qi Gong exercises as people are.
In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, a pet is examined using different parameters than a western medicine exam. Tongue and pulse quality are used to identify a Chinese diagnosis. Additionally, fur, skin, eyes, gums, foot pads, and ear temperature are just a few of the components used to further refine the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is made, certain herbal formulas, acupuncture points or foods can then be selected for the pet, which will help to bring the pet back into balance.
Different foods have different qualities. We are all familiar with how good fresh watermelon tastes on a hot summer day. Watermelon is considered to be a cooling food in Chinese medicine. Additionally, bananas are cooling, and upon looking for food patterns, bananas are grown in warm climates and watermelon is grown in the summer in North America so there is some logic about the cooling energetics. Traditional Chinese Medicine has extensive food lists, which divide foods into different categories to be used essentially as medicine.
I had a small dog patient once who preferred to eat duck, and nothing else if she could get away with it. Duck is a very energetically cooling meat. The pet parent also expressed concern that her dog was burrowing under blankets to sleep and was cold most of the time. At the follow-up appointment a week later and after removing duck from the diet and instead of feeding warming foods, the dog had stopped burrowing and was more comfortable. This is just one example of how balancing foods can be and in this case, it was easier to see.
While food therapy can incorporate holistic pet foods, best results are most typically observed when whole foods are added in or fed exclusively. Following an initial consultation, a food list is generated for the new pet patient and different ideas for preparation are discussed. Making a stew is probably the most common way to cook for pets but there are also ways to make a meat loaf. Some pet parents enjoy cooking foods from their pet’s list for dinner and
then everyone gets their own plate of it. It just depends on the desire for preparation and lifestyle of the family. Most of us innately have a sense of what is healthy food and what is not, and we have also felt the effects in our own bodies what good versus not so healthy foods do to us. Over time, we can notice similar changes in our pets fed whole foods by the sheen of their fur, their clear eyes, their breath, and the extra energy that is becoming more noticeable. Food therapy is an integral part of health because food is medicine.