Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Seasonal Approaches to Diet for Balanced Energy and Health in Your Pet

by Dr. Linda Vognar

Do your food preferences change with the seasons? Are your comfort foods different in winter and summer? Seasonal appetite variations are an important way that we balance our energy to achieve comfort and health.

But how healthy would we be if all we ate was the same highly processed diet from weaning until old age? The answer to this question may seem obvious, and yet most of us have been told that we should not vary our dog or cat’s diet, and to feed the same highly processed commercial food exclusively for years at a time. “Buy a good quality pet food and feed only that,” has been the advice that pet food manufactures and veterinarians have given for the last 50 years – since kibble was introduced on a large scale.

Dogs and cats need fresh unprocessed or minimally processed food in their daily diet to stay in the peak of health. It is also wise to change their diets to counterbalance seasonal changes and treat disease states. The Chinese have used food for health and to treat illness for millennium, and have developed a system that classifies food by its energetic qualities. Foods are basically divided into three types: heating, cooling, and neutral. These counterbalance environmental heat (summer), cold (winter) and the transitional periods of spring and fall.

Foods are basically divided into three types: heating, cooling, and neutral. These counterbalance environmental heat (summer), cold (winter) and the transitional periods of spring and fall.

Warming foods are basically Yang (hot, dry and energetic) in nature and can correct deficiencies in life force (Qi) created from the weather or illness (internal imbalance). They include chicken, lamb, venison, sweet potato, egg yolk, and squash. It is good to include some of these foods in your pet’s daily diet when the days are short and the weather is cold.

Cooling foods are basically Yin (cold, moist, and dark) in nature and can correct deficiencies that result in internal heat, and counterbalance summer heat. These foods include white fish, turkey, duck, egg white, barley, celery, and lettuce. Just as we feel best in summer eating lots of lettuce salads rather than venison stew, your pet will also benefit from additions of turkey, duck, and whitefish to their diet as the days grow long and the weather grows hot.

Neutral foods are often fed during fall and spring as we transition from one seasonal extreme to another. They include pork, beef, milk, salmon, sardines, tuna, and whole eggs. They can also be used for variety in the diet without fear of compounding existing imbalances.

So try adding some real food to your animal friend’s diet and see the health changes that result. These simple changes can help your pet be a healthy, happy companion for many years

Linda Vognar is certified in veterinary acupuncture and completed rigorous training at the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. She currently offers acupuncture, herbal and Chinese food therapy consultations at Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital  through Four Paws, Five Treasures, LLC.  She lives in Chippewa Valley with her husband and son, and her dog, Tank.

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