Saturday, March 10, 2012

Food Energetics for Pets

Last week I talked about 'natural' foods for pets and what that really meant. In my house it initially meant getting rid of things in my food that were not natural to canines like grains - all grains. We progressed from there into eating raw foods to promote better health for me and believing in the Food Energetics philosophy.

One of the books that helped convert us is "The Tao of Healthy Eating" by Bob Flaws. The philosophy he follows is that all animals (and people) can be classified as "hot" or "cold" or "neutral" based on a few characteristics. We can change those classifications by eating the foods that will cool or warm the body.

Another go to source is Chris Bessent, DVM and Herbalist. She is a true holistic veterinarian and says "I see a lot of animals that are on a variety of diets, and there is no denying that dogs who are on a great nutritional program are generally healthier than dogs who are fed a diet of low-end kibble. Food can be just as instrumental in maintaining wellness as supplements, medications, surgery, and regular veterinary care. Every food has properties and actions in terms of how they affect the balance of the body in Chinese theory.  Dogs that have a tendency to be hot in nature should be fed cooling foods, and dogs that tend to be cold in nature should be fed warming foods." This is a similar concept to how we tend to eat certain foods according to the season. For example, we don't eat beef stew in the summer and watermelon in the winter.

Hot Dogs vs Cool Dogs

How to determine what your dog is. "Hot" animals tend to be young, outgoing, hyper, can be aggressive, pant a lot have a red tongue which may have cracks in it, drink a lot, love to play outside on cold days, sleep on tile floors sprawled out, and can have a dry or brittle coat. Older animals that are "yin deficient" have lost their cooling abilities and can also show these symptoms. Feeding a "hot dog" hot foods (like lamb or venison, which are considered the hottest proteins) is like throwing kerosene on the fire. Hot dogs should be fed cooling foods to dampen the negative effects of heat on their bodies. Proteins like duck, rabbit, or fish are considered cooling by Chinese theory, and are best for a dog that has allergies or is generally hot in nature. If a dog is on a raw or real food diet, you can explore other options like fruits, vegetables, and grains. For example, some great cooling fruits and vegetables are apples, bananas, oranges, pears, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and mushrooms.

On the other paw, "Cold"' animals tend to be older, fatter, sluggish, more laid back, love to sleep in the sun or under the covers, may have moist skin problems, greasy gooey ears, don't drink as much, and don't like to go out on cold days. However young animals can be "cold" too.  Their tongues will not be dark red, but may be lavender or pink. So, a dog that has cool tendencies should be fed warming foods. A "cold dog" may show signs like general weakness, fatigue, exercise intolerance, poor appetite, shortness of breath, slow moving, and a preference to lay around. They may also seek out warm places, have fecal or urinary incontinence, stiffness that gets worse with rest, joint pain that gets worse in the cold weather, or have coldness of their ears, back, and limbs. All of these symptoms of coldness can be aided by feeding warming foods like turkey, chicken, squash, sweet potatoes, cherries, or oats. Similarly, a dog that is affected by arthritis tends to be cold in nature. (This is why arthritis gets even worse during the winter months.) For this reason, a dog that needs added joint support would benefit most from a warm diet. 

Some pets can have characteristics of both hot and cold, so our humans  need look for the predominant signs. You can never go wrong with neutral foods.  Foods like beef or salmon are great for any dog. You can use neutral foods for dogs that are well balanced or to dampen the effects of hot or cold foods given as part of an animal's diet.  Other examples of neutral foods include tuna, milk, cheese, eggs, white or brown rice, potatoes, peas, carrots, or green beans.    

The food we feed our dogs impacts their health, their mood, and their general well being. We saw a dramatic improvement within 3 weeks when my food was changed from 13 years of Science Diet to raw. 

Flaws says "we do not recommend feeding foods with corn, soy, wheat, or white rice in general, as an animals body is not meant to digest carbohydrates and these items are really just fillers in lower quality foods."

Go to a small independent holistic pet store and you'll find food you've never heard of. They are generally small manufacturers who would never farm their manufacturing out to facilities that process commercial pet food. When you look at those brands try to make sure the first few ingredients match what you are trying to accomplish through food energetics. For instance, a good cooling food for a hot dog would be a duck and sweet potato or a beef and barley meal, while good warming meal for a cool dog would be lamb and rice or oats. "It is recommended that you NEVER feed lamb based foods to hot, dry, hyper dogs (think Jack Russell Terrier bounce!)" according to Flaws.

If you feel as though this is confusing, this chart should make it easier to determine which foods are best for your pet. In any case if you are thinking about changing your pet's diet always be the good pet parent you are and check with your Vet or local small holistic store.
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Dexter Dog said...

Happy Saturday! Mum knew about Chinese medicine for humans, but never thought about how it could apply to us dogs, very interesting!

Anonymous said...

Hey it's Jet here. Mom understood many of your concepts... glad to know that we pets can be hot/cold etc... We appreciate your info.

Two French Bulldogs said...

Good info thanks
Benny & Lily

K-Koira said...

The hot/cold thing seems like an interesting theory. I've never really noticed much difference in my dogs' energy, though, based on what they are fed, and we do a pretty large variety including pork, beef, venison, elk, chicken, rabbit, salmon, sardines, and mutton.

Reba Messina said...

K-Koira Sounds like you feed a great diet! U R a good pawrent!

DogInTheDesert said...

I love seeing posts like this. We feed raw too and one of the best things about it is our ability to tailor it to our specific dogs needs. Just lately I have been working on applying the hot/cold principals to our dogs after some reading. Our dogs are pretty well balanced but this principal gives me a little more to think about when I am deciding what meat and veggies goes into who's bowls. After seeing the results of a natural diet this household is never going back to processed foods!

kingslandkennels said...

Nice info...
Thanks for sharing

Rosanna Dana said...

This is a lot to digest. I have a 14 y.o. blind & deaf Shih Tzhu. His body is covered w/benign growths. I have been feeding him version with carrots. He loves fresh vegetables..cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, etc. Even eats fresh fruit. Latrly, he is off his feed and doesn't want to eat at all. I also have a 1314 wk old English Springer Spaniel who is wind up tight and I am not sure what to feed him.
I am unaware of any holistic pet store, etc. in my arrange....Harrisburg, Lancaster, York. Any suggestions?