Holistic veterinarians sometimes speak of the constitution of an animal. This word can refer to the physical character of her body as to strength and health. Another way to think about the constitution of an animal is that it refers to the aggregate of the individual’s physical and psychological characteristics. This is the meaning of the word when used within the realm of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) which is based on Chinese medicine for people.
In TCVM, an animal’s constitutional type reflects the pattern of in-borne tendencies. It is the manifestation of the animal’s genetic strengths and weaknesses. Knowing an animal’s constitution can help you anticipate what types of diseases a pet is prone to as well as behavior and personality traits. If you can see part of the constitutional pattern, you can predict the rest. Interestingly, over the years, holistic veterinarians have found that a pet’s constitutional type often matches that of his owner.
In TCVM there are five constitutional types – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. These five concepts are what the Chinese termed the Five Elements. The Chinese did not think of these as chemical elements as we might think. Rather they are processes that are reflected in all of nature. Every pet and person is a mixture of the five elements but usually one dominates their constitution.
TCVM constitutions provide a new way to think about and relate to your pet. It is fascinating to look at the animals (and people) you know in this way. Next week I will go into detail about each constitution so you can gain new insights into your pets.