Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teaches that an individual (human or animal) has energies within the body that when out of balance will bring on illness.  In order to treat the illness, you need to address the underlying imbalance first.  In TCM, Yin represents cooling, fluids, quietness and more passive behavior.  Too much Yin can manifest as weakness or sluggishness.  On the other side, Yang represents heat, inflammation, outward energy and aggressive behavior.  Excessive Yang may present as irritability, dehydration, skin irritation or digestive upset.  To be healthy, you need a balance between the two. 

Using the concept of Yin and Yang, diseases can be classified as warming or cooling.  If a dog is “hot”, it will often be warm to the touch and may seek out cool places to sleep and rest.  They may pant even when resting, show signs of anxiety and the eyes and/or skin may exhibit redness or irritation.   TCM would characterize a dog that is anxious or reactive and those with chronic allergies as “hot” dogs. 

A “cold” dog may show signs of weakness, sluggishness, general fatigue, shortness of breath or exercise intolerance.  They may look for warm spots and often want to cuddle.  These dogs may have incontinence and joint pain.  They also tend to be relaxed and calm.  If you touch a cold dog you might find the ears, limbs and back feel chilled to the touch.

So how does all of this relate to nutrition?  Traditional Chinese Medicine views food, as well as herbs, as medicine and that foods have different energies.  Foods can be classified as Warming, Neutral or Cooling.  If you have a “hot” dog and feed them foods with hot or warming properties it can be like throwing gas on a fire.  An allergic dog may benefit from a food that has more cooling properties.  On the other hand, a “cold” dog may benefit from eating foods with warming properties. 

Cooling Foods

Proteins - Rabbit Duck, Clam, Cod Crab, Scallop Whitefish

Vegetables – Yellow tomatoes, Soy Bean, Bamboo, Broccoli, Celery, Cucumber, Eggplant, Kelp, Lettuce, Mushroom, Seaweed

Fruits – Apple, Banana, Cranberry, Kiwi, Lemon, Mango, Orange, Pear, Strawberry, Tangerine, Watermelon

Grains – Barley, Buckwheat, Millet, Wheat, Wild Rice

Miscellaneous – Duck Eggs, Flax Seed Oil, Marjoram, Peppermint, Salt, Sesame Oil, Tofu, Yogurt, Chicken Egg Whites

Neutral Foods

Proteins – Beef, Goose, Pork, Quail, Tripe, Tripe, Carp, Catfish, Herring, Mackerel, Salmon, Sardines, Tuna

Vegetables – Black Soy Beans, Kidney Beans, Beet Rood, Broad Beans, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Green beans, Peas, Red Beans, String Beans, Pumpkin, Potato, Shitake Mushroom, Yams

Fruits – Papaya, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Raspberry

Grains – White Rice, Brown Rice, Rye, Lentils, Corn

Miscellaneous – Spirulina, Tofu, Goat’s Milk, Yogurt Cheese, Chicken Eggs, Cow’s Milk, Duck Eggs, Honey

Warming Foods

Proteins – Turkey, Chicken, Pheasant, Ham Sturgeon, Lobster, Mussel, Shrimp, Prawn Anchovy

Vegetables – Black Bean, Squash, Sweet Potato

Fruit – Cherry, Date, Peach

Grains – Oats, Sorghum, Sweet Rice

Nuts/Seeds – Chestnut, Coconut, Pine Nut, Walnut

Miscellaneous – Bay Leaves, Brown sugar, Cinnamon, Ginger, molasses, Goat Milk, Tumeric, Binegar, Basil, Clove, Dill, Dried Ginger, Fennel Seed, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme

Hot Foods

Proteins – Lamb, Sheep, Venison, Goat, Trout

Miscellaneous – Cayenne

If your pet has conditions that may benefit from changes in the diet, work with a holistic veterinarian or nutritionist to develop a diet plan to bring the body into balance.  Even if your pet does not have specific issues, having a knowledge of food energetics can help you balance the foods you are feeding to keep their body in balance.