Monthly Archives: December 2015

Which Element is Your Pet?


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


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.

Damning Report on Pet Foods


A sustainable foods-oriented, consumer advocacy organization, The Cornucopia Institute, recently released a scathing report on commercial pet foods. Of course, most of what they found will not be shocking to the readers of this blog. It is interesting to have such a group back up many of my concerns and come up with a few of their own.

The report starts by exposing the regulations that pertain to pet food manufacturing. It shows the loopholes in these regulations and how the pet food companies exploit them to hide the poor quality ingredients used and the toxins permitted in pet foods. The report emphasizes that pet food is basically the dumping ground for food that is unfit for human consumption.

Next, the report takes a close look at pet food ingredients. It gives details about toxins such as carrageenan, synthetic preservatives (which may not be listed on the ingredient list), BPA, sodium selenite, and food dyes.

The report exposes unsavory ingredients such as rendered meat byproducts which may contain dead cats and dogs.  It looks at inappropriate ingredients like grains and carbohydrates. It even takes on pea protein meal which is a poor quality protein containing an incomplete amino acid profile. It is also a prime target for melamine adulteration.

An interesting thing about this Cornucopia Institute report is that they come at the critique from an environmental point of view. They point out one particular ingredient, forage fish. These are small fish that serve as food for larger fish. In part because of the pet food industry, these fish are being over-harvested which endangers world fish populations.

The report next looks at the marketing ploys used to fool consumers about so called organic pet foods. The report ends with a section on the virtues of homemade diets recommending Dr. Karen Becker’s diet book (a book that I also recommend).

Of course, the best way to avoid all this nonsense is to feed a balanced raw diet.

If you still feed conventional pet food, you must read this report.