In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is believed that Qi is the vital energy that is responsible for all functions of the body. In ancient cultures, food has long been regarded as not only essential for survival but for health. The Chinese believe that each naturally occurring source of food has an innate energy i.e. it is either warm, cool or neutral. All foods have this ying and yang principle in the form of warm, cool or neutral effects on the body. For example, we frequently eat foods according to the weather, e.g. having an ice cold watermelon drink on a hot day helps to regulate the heat and quench the thirst. Likewise, our dogs would also benefit from the yin and yang of food.
Dogs which tend to be hot will benefit from cold and cooling foods. Cold and cooling foods will clear up heat in the body. Signs of heat in a dog includes panting, itching, skin and ear infections and hot spots. Mandy, our adopted senior was a typical hot dog. When we first adopted her, we noticed she was constantly panting and seeking the cold floor as a relief. Her panting got worse on hot days and once, she had to be sent to the vet for observation after suffering from an apparent heat stroke. She also had several hot spots on her body and a chronic ear infection. We switched her diet to include lightly cooked pork or beef with cooling vegetables like cucumber, green beans, spinach and celery. Pork and beef are neutral meats and we avoided feeding her heaty meats like chicken, mutton or venison. For a hot dog, it is also good to occasionally feed cooling fruits like watermelon and pear. Mandy’s condition improved significantly after 2 months on the cooling diets. She pants less now and her ear infection has also cleared up.
On the other hand, a cold dog will tend to be lethargic, have cold paws and pale tongue and may suffer from diarrhea. For a cold dog, you can give warming foods like lamb, chicken and vegetables like pumpkin and peppers. Neutral foods can be used in cases when warm or cold meats cannot be fed due to cost or lack of availability. Kangaroo meat for example, is an excellent cooling meat but is expensive and not readily available in Singapore.
Below is a list of common warm, cool and neutral foods:
|Chicken eggs||White potatoes|
The methods of cooking impacts the warming or cooling properties of the food. Steaming is neutral cooking as it does not add yang energy to the food. Boiling and slow cooking adds warm yang energy to the food and is excellent for senior pets who are Qi deficient and needs additional warmth. We do not recommend microwave for any type of cooking as it is believed that microwave changes the nature and molecular structure of the food and damages the Qi.
Feeding a geriatric pet
We have 3 senior dogs at home, aged 9, 10 and 11 years. The digestive ability of the gut is diminished in older dogs and hence, we strive to ensure that our seniors are fed fresh, easily digestible food that is rich in nutrients. Some considerations for feeding a geriatric pet include:
- Do not constantly feed cold foods as this decreases yang energy and leads to poor digestion and gastrointestinal issues.
- Feed easily digestible food at room temperature. Good choices include soups, stews and bone broth.
- Avoid white potato and other vegetables from the nightshade family like egg plants, peppers and tomatoes as this will aggravate the arthritis which many senior pets may have. Do note that white potatoes are used as a base in many treats and frosting in pupcakes and these should be fed in moderation to senior pets.
- Add foods rich in omega 3, including salmon, sardines, mackerel.
- Do not feed entirely dry food to senior pets as kibble is drying and hot in nature. This will cause yin deficiency and dehydration. Add some fresh cooked foods to improve nutrition.
- Feed several times a day instead of one main meal.
Our beloved dogs are with us for such a short period of time and it is our fervent hope as pet parents that by applying the appropriate food therapy and nutrition, we can increase the quality of life for our aging fur kids. We are constantly learning and improving our recipes to provide our dogs with the best nutrition possible.
At Paws Fur Life, all our recipes start with 100% human grade meat and fresh wholesome ingredients. We offer a range of nutritious home cooked meals that can be used to supplement your pet’s diet.
Click here for our range of nutritious stews and meals.
Paws Fur Life, canine massage & nutrition. A healthy dog is a happy dog
- Certificate in Canine Nutrition (USA)