Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) comprises a complete health care system consisting of acupuncture, herbal medicine, Tai Qi and food therapy. TCVM, in simple terms, defines health as a balance of Yin and Yang. When there is an imbalance, disease occurs. Every aspect of our lives and body has a particular Yin or Yang quality. Depending on your pet’s personal constitution/personality, they are prone to Yin or Yang aspects and this translates to certain disease predispositions. The goal in TCVM food therapy is to maintain balance (Yin/Yang).
Food Therapy in TCVM is based upon 2 fundamental principles:
1)Food Energetics: This refers to the effect of a food on digestive, metabolic, and physiological processes of the body. This includes the thermal nature of food, and flavor (sweet, bitter, neutral, salt or pungent (acrid)).
2) Pattern Differentiation: Does the patient run hot or cold and what system is predominantly affected? This may change from season to season as well.
In the Summer, when your pet is hot and panting, you want to offer cooling foods that counter this heat. In the Winter, when your pet is seeking heat, you want to offer foods that are richer and warmer, to help keep your pet warm.
The needs of an active puppy, kitten or even a foal will be different from the needs of their elderly counterparts.
Western diets, unfortunately, do not consider energy qualities of the foods which can influence the long term health of your pet.
According to the World Health Organization, 60% of chronic disease is a consequence of industrialization: processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle. Processed foods have nutrition condensed into small packages. These foods are full of saturated fat and refined carbohydrates, which causes chronic diseases to all kinds of animals. For example, a kibble has a minimum of 30% carbohydrate content. For many breeds of dog, and all types of cats, carbohydrates at this level are far too much. Moreover, the quality of ingredients that goes into most animal feeds is substandard, as animal feed is often a direct outlet for rendered foods and by-products. Therefore, our biggest opportunity to improve the health of our patients exists in improving the nutrition contained in their daily food.
By Cathy Alinovi, DVM, CVA, CVCH, CVTP, CVFT
"Food-related disease is common in our western, modernized, industrialized society - the convenience of processed foods is both a benefit and a health hazard. It is very difficult to argue against the convenience of processed dog food in a bag." Dr. Alinovi
Schedule an appointment with your TCVM veterinarian about improving your pet's dietary needs.