Heal Your Dog With Food – Allergies, Arthritis, Even Canine Cancer Can Improve Through Food's Awesome Anti-Inflammatory Power
Ever have achy joints on a rainy day? Have you felt winter’s chill slip deep into your bones and stay with you until spring? How about sluggish digestion, or itchy dry skin? Whether your human, dog, or kangaroo – our bodies and the environment are energetically connected.
Food is our bodies’ energy source. Every food delivers its energy to our bodies in unique, elegant, and powerful ways. An obvious example of this is demonstrated when you eat spicy foods and beads of perspiration accumulate on your upper lip, or you get the sniffles.
Our reactions to most foods are more subtle than this, but the energy and results are undeniable. Consuming the same kinds of foods over time has a cumulative effect. This effect is positive when body conditions, weather patterns, and food choices are complementary. When they’re not, things can go haywire.
As parent to your pup you have the amazing ability to choose the right pet foods and dog treats to help your dog thrive. Here's how...
The New Four Food Groups
Traditional Chinese Medicine ascribes energetic qualities to food on a spectrum of hot to cold, and dry to damp. Think of them as quadrants, with temperature on the X-axis, and dampness on the Y-axis.
Energetically speaking, foods vary in temperature and moisture. Starches, eggs and pigmented fish (like salmon and tuna) tend to be dampening. All bodies thrive when there is balance – when Yin balances Yang. The food choices you make for your dog and you are best guided by this simple notion of balance.
In cold winter months, dogs are best suited by warming foods. In the heat of summer, they thrive on cooling nutrients. If its winter in New England, you would want to offer your dog meals and treats with proteins like lamb, goat, beef, and chicken; and a moderate amount of starch like sweet potato or steel cut oats. Human-grade treats like single-ingredient chicken jerky and beef jerky are great choices this time of year.
If its summer in the south, opt for diets with cooling nutrients like white fish, turkey, rabbit, celery, dark leafy greens, and skip the starch. A human edible, species appropriate treat like turkey jerky is a good option in summer months.
The Inflammatory Cascade
Systemic inflammation and the metabolic cascade that happens from inflammation is fueled by starch-laden diets with their dampening influences, and too much warmth. According to Dr. Nathan Heilman, DVM, warming meats, such as chicken, beef, and (the very warming) lamb, should be reserved for colder weather, or mixed in with cooler proteins to avoid their cumulative warming influence.
In other words, if a dog eats chicken or beef for an extended period, they are likely to develop inflammation. Western medicine views this as a dietary sensitivity. Chinese medicine views this as a cumulative warming action. Often mild inflammatory conditions can be resolved by simply switching to cooler proteins like turkey, rabbit or cod and cutting out starch.
A balanced diet doesn’t just mean getting the macronutrients like protein, fiber, fats and carbohydrates right. Nor is it limited to complete and balanced diets which have the correct ratios of micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and amino acids. A balanced diet also means balancing the energetic qualities of the food your dog eats with her internal energy (i.e. her health), and external energy (like the seasons and weather patterns). Even emotional energy plays a role. Health and harmony result when the energetic qualities of all these things align. Psst… the same goes for you too!
Using Food As Medicine
According Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine, Science and Tradition by Susan G. Wynn, DVM and Steve Marsden, DVM, Naturopathic Physician, about half of all small animal skin disorders arise from an overwhelming accumulation of toxins in the body. This buildup is referred to as Dampness in Chinese medicine. As Dampness remains in the body, it becomes hot (Damp Heat) and perhaps toxic (a severe Damp Heat). Think of excess Dampness as gunk in gears of your body; it gums up the works; it causes friction and friction generates heat.
The prevailing signs of excess or toxic heat can include agonizing itchiness, skin lesions, either elevated thirst or appetite (usually not both), and a preference for cool surfaces. Dampness may also present itself as loose stools and/or vomiting; deep sleeping; reverse sneezing or snoring; strong breath, skin or ear odor; a greasy coat and even large flakes of dander.
From a Chinese medical perspective, the body is injured by an excess of the “sweet” taste which is assigned to carbohydrate-laden plants and foods. Since cats and dogs are not biologically designed to use carbs as a main energy source, carbohydrates may be significant contributing factors in disorders referable to the diet and digestive tract according to Drs Wynn and Marsden.
While elimination diets make sense for these patients, Drs Wynn and Marsden advise caution in the selection of novel proteins, as many of them (like lamb and goat) are rich and considered energetically “hot” which can exacerbate the condition. Dr. Marsden says that in his practice it is becoming increasingly common for patients to not improve on these “hypoallergenic” types of diets alone. Why? The reason could be this fundamental principal of the energetic quality of the food.
Another reason could be that most commercially prepared diets – especially kibble – are loaded with gummy, Dampness-inducing starches. Dr. Marsden also says that raw diets may be helpful in treating skin disorders because raw food takes longer to digest, and this longer digestion time means there is no deluge of absorbed calories that can cause Dampness. (This Dampness causing deluge of calories is another reason why it is better to feed your dog smaller meals two to three times per day, than one large meal.)
So how should a parent help her dog achieve harmony of health, seasonal influences, and food? We included a graphic which shows some common ingredients and where they lie on the energetic spectrum. You can use this guide in developing a good rotation of commercially prepared foods to give your dog. You can also use it to guide your ingredient choices when making your own balanced homemade dog food well-balanced homemade dog food following the formula from Dr. Nate Heilman. Based in Burlington, VT, he is our family’s veterinarian and in my opinion one of the best integrative veterinarians on the planet.
Here at Goodness Gracious we are all about harnessing the power of simple whole foods to achieve optimum health – a state of being where internal and external energies are harmonious. We make collections human grade USA made, USA Sourced dog treats like our single ingredient jerky called Hula Lula. It covers the range of energies from cool to hot and drying to moistening.
We also make high protein gluten free and grain free cookies, meaty strips, puppy training treats, and species appropriate chews that dogs all love. There’s a perfect choice in our lineup for every season, every dog, and everything is always human edible. Come visit us today to find out more.