Tag Archives: Chinese medicine

Which Element is Your Pet?

Riley

Last week, I introduced the concept of TCVM constitutional types (see here). Now it’s time to have some fun and see how this concept might apply to your pet.

As I talk about Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood, I will mention a breed of dog that best exemplifies each element. It is the stereotypical dog of that breed that I’ll refer to. I do not want to leave the impression that every dog of that breed is necessarily associated with that specific element. After all, there is individuality in the animal kingdom. And of course, cats and other pets can also be categorized into one of the elemental categories. So, let’s look at the constitutional types and see where your pet fits.

The Fire constitution is represented by the typical toy poodle. The Fire pet is full of excitement and enthusiasm. When this constitution is balanced, the pet shows love and affection and is good at communicating with her owner. When this type becomes sad, lonely, and lacks interest, it is said to be deficient of Fire. On the other hand, excess Fire is manifested be over-excitement and manic or inappropriate behavior. The organ for this constitution is the heart and Fire pets are prone to cardiac disease.

The Earth constitution is typified by the Labrador Retriever. Earth animals tend to be gentle caregivers who hover, nurture, and protect. When this element is balanced the individual is sympathetic and supportive. If there is a lack of Earth energy then the animal tends toward excessive worry. Too much of the Earth tendency can cause the pet to be clingy and possessive. The digestive system is associated with the Earth element and these pets are prone to obesity, food intolerance, and diarrhea.

The Border Collie is the dog bread that best represents the Metal constitution. This constitutional type is focused on getting things done RIGHT. When in balance, metal animals have an easy rhythm of taking in and letting go. Those with a deficiency of Metal energy may have an inability to form lasting bonds and tend toward isolation. An excess of Metal leads to inflexibility and an extreme need for control. The Metal element is linked to the respiratory system and this constitution tends to have lung problems such as asthma or pneumonia.

The Water constitution is best demonstrated by the St. Bernard. They tend to be “thinkers, not doers.” When the Water animal is in balance, they have a firm will and are not easily discouraged. Too little Water energy can result in an animal that is fearful and easily discouraged. Excessive Water can lead to stubbornness. Physical problems associated with the Water constitution include birth defects, kidney and bladder issues, and deafness.

Finally, the Wood constitution can be seen in the Jack Russell Terrier. These types are always active and doing something. When balanced, the Wood constitution conveys confidence and creativity. With a deficiency of Wood, a pet becomes uncertain, has low self-confidence, and is easily dominated. Too much Wood energy leads to aggressiveness, impatience, anger, and frustration. The Wood element is associated with the liver and this constitutional type is prone to liver disease as well as redness of the eyes and vomiting of bile.

Learning about these five constitutional types can help you better understand your pets and anticipate their needs. You might even learn a little about yourself in the process. Here is a good book about pets on this subject and here’s one on people.

Which element is your pet?

The Five Elements and Your Pet

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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.

Holistic Tips for Kidney Disease

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If your pet has been diagnosed with kidney failure, there are natural treatments that can help. The first thing to be aware of is that monitoring will help you know what is needed. Many veterinarians will do blood work periodically to see how things are progressing. The BUN and Creatinine are the most commonly monitored tests. However, it is important to also keep an eye on the phosphorus, the hematocrit (red blood cell count), and the potassium.

The BUN and Creatinine monitor the progression of the disease. The phosphorus often elevates as the kidneys fail and can cause lack of appetite and vomiting. The hematocrit helps us keep an eye out for anemia. Finally, some cats with kidney disease will develop low potassium which complicates the condition. Be sure your vet is monitoring everything and is not struck with tunnel vision.

The first thing for any pet with renal disease is to feed the kidneys by providing the nutrients they need to function as well as possible. One great supplement for this is the Fermented Fish Stock made by Answers Raw Pet Foods. They also make an excellent probiotics delivery system in their Fermented Raw Goat’s milk. Most pets find this very yummy and it often gets a finicky pet eating again. A final supplement to feed the kidneys is Canine or Feline Renal Support from Standard Process.  The omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and preserves kidney function.  If your pet develops a low potassium level, there are supplements that can be added to the mix.

A supplement that can help the body rid itself of waste that the kidneys are not handling well is called Azodyl. It provides special probiotic bacteria that basically suck the nitrogenous waste in the body out through the colon. This is a good place to start for pets with high BUN/Creatinine.

If your pet’s phosphorus is starting to go above normal, a phosphorus binder can be used. Aluminum Hydroxide is the most common one. It binds to phosphorus in the gut and keeps it from getting absorbed. I like Phos-bind by Rx Vitamins.

Milk thistle is well known for its positive effects on the liver but it can help the kidneys too. My favorite herb for the kidneys is Rehmannia. It is part of Chinese herbal formulas for kidney failure and helps improve the blood circulation to the kidneys. It is best to have your pet seen by a TCM practitioner to find the right Rehmannia formula for your pet.

When you look at all the supplements that can help with renal failure, it is easy to see that you can’t get everything into most pets. There just wouldn’t be room for food if you gave them all. I suggest you try the different ones and see what works for you and your pet. I have found acupuncture to help with pets’ appetites and renal function. And it is one less thing you need to get down the pet’s throat.

Have you had success with any treatments for kidney disease?