All foods provide nutrients, but foods also have specific properties that affect the body such as warmth and cooling, energy or calm. It’s easy to understand this when you consider that we tend to eat warm soup on a cold day, and watermelon or salads on a hot day. This same concept can be applied to dogs to help control allergies, decrease inflammation, and improve their immune system.
Food energetics, part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, teaches that all food has a natural energy that can interact with your pet's natural energy. A holistic approach to canine health includes the idea that foods have warming or cooling properties that can either warm or cool your pet’s body. An imbalance – too much cold or too much hot - tends to cause symptoms such as itchiness, food sensitivities, or skin irritation.
Let’s first determine if your dog’s natural energy category is hot, cold, or neutral.
A “hot” dog doesn’t refer to their physical temperature, but means they have an excess of energy. They tend to be active, nervous, or restless. They are always looking for the coolest place and will likely prefer lying on tile rather than carpet. They may drink excessively or pant when it doesn’t seem appropriate. Hot dogs often suffer from allergies, hot spots, dry skin, or inflammation.
“Cold” dogs seek out warm places, and will prefer a sunny spot or snuggling under blankets. They tend to be more slow-moving, may have a poor appetite, are often stiff after they have been lying down for a while and have more joint problems.
Neutral dogs don’t regularly exhibit any of these symptoms. They may occasionally show signs of having excess heat or cold, but they are generally not prone to one or the other.
Choosing to feed cooling foods for dogs that are hot and warming foods for dogs that are cold can help address certain health issues - especially allergy symptoms. The immune system of dogs with allergies is over-reacting to an allergen and responds with heat and inflammation. This causes symptoms like red, inflamed skin, and intense itching. Cooling foods can make a huge difference to help balance their natural energy and alleviate allergy symptoms.
All foods fall somewhere on the spectrum of food energetics, but proteins typically have a greater effect. Following is a list of proteins with each energy so you can work to balance your dog’s diet.
Hot Proteins should always be fed in moderation, even to cold dogs. Lamb, goat, mutton, venison and trout are considered hot. If a hot dog is fed hot foods, it’s like throwing kerosene on a fire!
Warm Proteins are especially beneficial in the colder months and are helpful for dogs that need added joint support. Warm proteins include chicken, turkey and pheasant.
Cool Proteins can help bring down inflammation, which is the root cause of allergic reactions. Duck, rabbit, minnows, cod and whitefish are the most cooling proteins. Dogs with hot energies are often easily excitable or anxious and cooling foods can also have a calming effect.
Neutral Proteins balance both warm and cold and are a great option for most dogs. Neutral proteins include pork, beef, bison, salmon, quail, herring, mackerel, and sardines.
Food is the foundation of health and for an allergic dog – food is medicine. A dramatic improvement can often be made just by changing the foods dogs are fed. Food energetics works best with a minimally processed or raw diet. This is partially due to the quality of nutrients, but also the fact that such diets include fewer ingredients and are not subject to high heat processing, which destroys or alters many of the ingredients and nutrients.
When considering food energetics, balance and variety are the key. A hot dog should not eat only cold foods and vice versa as this can lead to different imbalances. A diverse diet ensures that your dog is receiving a wide variety of nutrients. That alone will help to create balance.