I did not realize that the old adage you are what you eat was so appropriate until I began to study Chinese Veterinary Food Therapy. This is where Chinese Herbal Medicine got its start, using specific foods to nourish each individual based on their age, the season, their inborn tendencies, and their disharmony or specific condition.
Each food has a tendency to warm or cooI the individual. In Chinese Medicine individuals often tend to be either too warm or too cold. Many dogs with allergic skin disease for example are too warm. Feeding these dogs a diet that consists of mostly cooling foods will benefit their skin. We often eat cooling foods intuitively. In the summer we crave watermelon, which is a very cooling and moistening food, but in the winter we are more likely to eat warming foods such as oatmeal.
Different foods also target and nourish different organs. To nourish the kidneys for example, asparagus, and black beans, are appropriate. In patients with kidney disease, a diet created based on their Chinese medical diagnosis would likely include some of these ingredients.
When we feed our dogs human grade ingredients we are also giving them the most bio available nutrients possible with the ease of digestibility that is not afforded by dry foods.
What about balance? Most packaged foods on the market are advertised as being balanced for adult dogs or for all life stages. In theory this is all good and appropriate, however, the reality of eating the same thing every day regardless of body condition, season, and constitution is not the best idea for a continually healthy body. Also, there are micronutrients which may or may not be present in sufficient quantities in dry diets. We can adjust our prepared diets for the dog’s changing clinical condition by simply changing some of the ingredients.
Most clinical conditions can be improved with a change in diet. A thorough case review which may include medical record review, phone or in person consultation with the client, as well as physical exam of the patient where possible will yield the information necessary to formulate an appropriate diet for a specific dog or cat.
Mina’s case: Mina is a young dachshund who was diagnosed with three large bladder stones. Because she was at the start of her show career, her owner was looking for an alternative to surgery. We created a diet for her based on her Chinese Diagnosis and placed her on an appropriate herbal formula. Within 6 months her bladder stones were gone. Mina continues to have great health, having given birth to one litter of puppies and earning her championship. She still eats her Chinese Food Therapy diet prescribed just for her, and has had no recurrence of urinary crystals or stones!
I greatly enjoy watching the results of the personalized diets that I create for my patients. I consider it to be one of my most effective tools in healing.
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