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Harmony in the Bowl: Discovering the Power of Warming, Cooling, and Neutral Foods for Pets

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

healthy house cat resting on counter next to cup

If you love your fur baby, you probably want to provide the best of everything for them. Providing them with love and toys is a great start, but you also need to think about their health. Adding great nutrition, exercise and complementary therapies can extend their life and keep them healthy!

In this blog, we will delve into the fascinating world of cooling, warming, and neutral foods for our furry friends. Just like humans, animals can benefit from foods that help regulate their body temperature and support their overall health. Whether you're seeking to keep your pet cool during scorching summers, warm them up during chilly winters, or simply maintain their well-being throughout the year, we've got you covered.

Join us as we explore the reason why you should feed temperature related foods, what heat/cool conditions look like and the various foods categorized in their respective temperatures. Let's embark on this journey together and ensure our pets are happy, healthy, and nourished in every season.

Why You Should Feed Warming, Cooling or Neutral Foods to Your Pet

Feeding foods based on energetic properties in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a belief rooted in the principles of balancing the body's energies for overall health and well-being. According to TCM, the body's energies, known as yin and yang, should be in harmony for optimal health. Imbalances in these energies are believed to contribute to various health issues.

dog in snow needs warming foods to warm up

In TCM, foods are classified as cooling, warming, or neutral based on their perceived effects on the body's energy balance. The idea is to select foods that can help restore balance and address specific health conditions. For example, if a pet is experiencing symptoms of excessive heat, such as inflammation or restlessness, feeding cooling foods may help alleviate those conditions.

By incorporating foods with specific energetic properties into a pet's diet, TCM practitioners believe it can help address imbalances, support overall health, and potentially alleviate certain health conditions. It's seen as a way to promote the body's natural healing abilities and maintain balance.

However, it's important to note that TCM principles should be used as a complementary approach and not as a sole basis for pet nutrition. It's crucial to consult with a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about TCM or a trained TCM practitioner to ensure that the dietary recommendations align with the specific needs of the pet. A holistic approach that combines TCM principles with modern veterinary care can provide a comprehensive approach to pet health and well-being. Be sure to feed the appropriate food for each animal: Cats are carnivores and dogs are omnivores.

Examples of Heat Conditions in Animals

In traditional Chinese medicine, excessive heat is considered an imbalance of the body's energies that can manifest in various ways.

Acute Heat Conditions

These conditions present themselves quickly and have not been present long. A good example of this would be when your dog is running around doing zoomies in the park then gets hot. He may be looking for cooler areas to rest, drinking water and panting, thus, trying to bring balance back to the body naturally. This is when you could offer cooling snacks like watermelon and cucumber to help bring balance back to their bodies to help them cool down.

dog cooling off in the water because he is experiencing a heat condition
  • Restlessness and irritability: Excessive heat can cause restlessness, nervousness, and irritability in both humans and animals. Pets may display signs of agitation, pacing, excessive panting, or being unable to settle down.

  • Excessive thirst: When there is excess heat in the body, it can lead to increased thirst and a desire for cool water. Pets may drink more water than usual and exhibit signs of dehydration if not adequately hydrated.

  • Excessive panting: Dogs, in particular, may pant excessively when experiencing heat imbalance. Panting is their natural way of cooling down, but excessive panting can indicate a struggle to regulate body temperature due to excess heat.

  • Heatstroke: Heatstroke is typically associated with excess heat accumulation in the body, which can disrupt the flow of Qi and affect various organ systems.

Chronic Heat Conditions

Chronic conditions are the ones that have been present for longer periods of time. These are the ones that need supportive care to help the body. Allergies are an excellent example of this: It took a longer time to develop and will take a longer time to bring balance back to the body.

  • Inflammation: Excessive heat can manifest as inflammation in the body, leading to redness, swelling, and pain. Conditions like hot spots, skin rashes, or hot, swollen joints can be attributed to excessive heat.

  • Redness and heat in the ears: Excessive heat can manifest as red, hot ears in pets. This may indicate an imbalance or underlying condition, such as an ear infection or allergies.

  • Skin conditions: Excessive heat can contribute to skin conditions such as hot spots, dry and itchy skin, eczema, or dermatitis. These conditions may be characterized by redness, inflammation, and discomfort.

It's important to remember that these examples are general indications and should not be used for self-diagnosis.

Examples of Cold Conditions in Animals

In traditional Chinese medicine, cold is considered an imbalance of the body's energies that can manifest in various conditions.

Acute Cold Conditions

As mentioned above, acute conditions are the ones that have a more sudden onset. If your dog goes outside in the winter and comes back with cold paws, he would have an acute cold condition and it can be easily warmed by going inside and seeking warm areas.

cold paws indicate cold conditions in traditional Chinese medicine
  • Cold intolerance: Pets with a cold imbalance may exhibit intolerance to cold temperatures. They may seek warmth, seek out warm spots in the house, or curl up tightly to conserve body heat.

  • Cold extremities: Pets with a cold imbalance may have cold paws, ears, or noses. These areas may feel noticeably colder to the touch compared to the rest of the body. This can indicate poor circulation or a lack of warmth in the body.

Chronic Cold Conditions

The chronic cold conditions will take time to develop and are harder to manage.

  • Lethargy: Cold imbalances can lead to a sense of lethargy and low energy levels in pets. They may be less active and show a lack of motivation or enthusiasm.

  • Digestive issues: Cold imbalances can affect the digestive system, leading to symptoms such as diarrhea or loose stools. The stools may have a cold appearance, appearing pale or watery.

  • Excessive urination: Pets with a cold imbalance may urinate more frequently than usual. The urine may appear clear and copious, indicating a lack of warmth in the urinary system.

  • Pain and stiffness: Cold imbalances can lead to pain and stiffness in the body, especially in the joints and muscles. Pets may show signs of discomfort, reluctance to move, or difficulty getting up or lying down. Arthritis is a chronic cold condition.

It's important to note that these examples are general indications and should not be used for self-diagnosis. If you suspect your pet has a cold imbalance or any other health concerns, it's crucial to consult with a veterinarian who can provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. They can help determine the underlying cause and develop a comprehensive plan to address your pet's specific needs.

Cooling Foods for Pets to Reduce Heat Conditions

In TCM, cooling foods are often categorized based on their energetic properties rather than their temperature. Cooling proteins, according to TCM principles, are believed to have a cooling effect on the body and can help balance excessive heat.

Cooling Proteins for Pets

fish ready for cooking is a cooling protein in TCM
  • Fish: Certain types of fish, such as mackerel, cod, or sardines, are considered cooling in TCM. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can help support a healthy coat, skin, and immune system.

  • Rabbit: Rabbit meat is often regarded as cooling in TCM. It is a lean protein source that can be included in a dog's diet as an alternative to more warming meats like beef or lamb.

  • Duck: Duck meat is considered neutral to slightly cooling in TCM. It is often used as an alternative protein source for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.

Other Cooling Vegetables for Pets

watermelon is a cooling food for dogs
  • Spinach: Spinach is packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

  • Broccoli: Broccoli is known for its high water content and fiber, promoting healthy digestion.

  • Celery: Celery, with its crunchy texture and high water content, is a hydrating treat.

  • Cucumber: Cucumbers are also a fantastic cooling vegetable choice, as they are low in calories, high in water, and provide a satisfying crunch.

  • Melon: melons, such as watermelon or cantaloupe, which are not only cooling but also offer a hydrating and delicious snack.

Warming Foods for Pets to Reduce Cold Conditions

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), warming foods are believed to have a warming effect on the body and can help balance cold conditions or deficiencies. These foods are often recommended during colder seasons or for pets with certain conditions.

Warming Proteins for Pets

beef is a warming food for pets
  • Beef: Beef is considered a warming protein in TCM. It is believed to nourish yang energy and help warm the body.

  • Chicken: Chicken is another warming protein that is commonly used in TCM. It is believed to tonify chi (vital energy) and have a warming effect.

  • Lamb: Lamb is considered a warming meat in TCM. It is believed to have a nourishing and warming effect on the body.

  • Salmon: Salmon is considered a warming fish in TCM. It is believed to tonify yin and help warm the body.

  • Venison: Venison is a lean, nutrient-rich protein that provides warmth and nourishment. It is also a great alternative for pets with allergies or sensitivities to more common proteins like chicken or beef.

Other Warming Foods for Pets

quinoa is a warming food for pets
  • Quinoa: Quinoa is a warming grain that is often used as an alternative to traditional grains like rice. It is believed to have a warming effect and provides nourishment.

  • Ginger: Ginger is a warming herb that can be added to pet food in small amounts. It is believed to improve circulation and digestion, and warm the body.

  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon is another warming spice that can be used in small amounts. It is believed to invigorate yang energy and have a warming effect.

Neutral Foods for Pets for a Balanced Body

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), foods are often classified as either cooling, warming, or neutral in their energetic properties. Neutral foods are considered to have a balanced effect on the body and do not lean towards being excessively cooling or warming.

Neutral Proteins for Pets

eggs are a neutral protein in traditional Chinese medicine
  • Pork: Pork is a neutral food, but can be slightly cooling as well. Pork provides a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, including B vitamins, zinc, and selenium.

  • Turkey: Turkey meat is considered a neutral protein source in TCM. It is often seen as a balancing meat option that provides nourishment without being excessively warming or cooling.

  • Eggs: Eggs are considered a neutral food in TCM. They are a versatile protein source that is often well-tolerated and provides essential nutrients.

  • Goats milk: often considered an alternative to cow's milk due to its different protein structure and composition, making it more easily digestible for some individuals, including pets. It is a good source of nutrients such as protein, calcium, vitamins, and minerals.

Other Neutral Foods for Pets

pumpkins are neutral foods for pets
  • White Rice: White rice is considered a neutral food in TCM. It is a staple grain that is easily digested and provides energy without being excessively cooling or warming.

  • Sweet Potato: Sweet potatoes are often classified as a neutral food in TCM. They are a starchy root vegetable that provides nourishment without causing excessive heat or coldness.

  • Pumpkin: Pumpkin is considered a neutral food in TCM. It is a nutrient-dense vegetable that is often used for its digestive and soothing properties.

  • Carrots: Carrots are generally regarded as a neutral food in TCM. They are a root vegetable that provides essential nutrients and can support digestion.

  • Green Beans: Green beans are typically classified as a neutral vegetable in TCM. They are a good source of fiber and nutrients, providing balanced nourishment.

Reasons Why You Should Feed Neutral Foods

Feeding neutral foods to pets in TCM is often recommended to maintain a balanced state and support overall health. Neutral foods are believed to have a harmonizing effect on the body's energies without excessively cooling or warming it. Here are some reasons why neutral foods may be beneficial:

  1. Balance and Moderation: Neutral foods are considered to help maintain a balance between yin and yang energies in the body. They neither exacerbate excessive heat nor further cool down the body. By incorporating a variety of neutral foods into a pet's diet, it aims to promote moderation and prevent extreme imbalances.

  2. General Health Maintenance: Neutral foods can be suitable for pets who are generally healthy and do not require specific cooling or warming effects. These foods provide balanced nutrition and can contribute to overall well-being.

  3. Sensitive Individuals: Some pets may have sensitivities or conditions that make them more susceptible to imbalances caused by excessively cooling or warming foods. In such cases, neutral foods are considered a safe choice as they are less likely to trigger adverse reactions or exacerbate existing health issues.

  4. Transitioning or Transitional Periods: When transitioning from one type of diet to another or during periods of dietary adjustment, neutral foods can provide a stable and gentle option. They can help the pet's body adapt gradually without causing drastic shifts in energy balance.

  5. Supporting Individual Constitution: Each pet has a unique constitution, and what may be beneficial for one pet may not be the same for another. Neutral foods offer a middle ground and can be tailored to suit the individual needs of the pet, considering their overall health, age, activity level, and specific sensitivities.

Food Allergies in Pets

Food allergies in pets occur when their immune system reacts to certain ingredients in their diet or factors in the environment. As mentioned above, allergies can be a heat condition. While cooling foods can help reduce this heat condition, your baby could also be allergic to those cooling foods. It's important to identify the reason of your fur baby's allergies.

dog scratching has allergies from food and needs cooling foods

Common allergens for pets include beef, dairy, chicken, lamb, fish, eggs, wheat, soy, and corn. Symptoms of food allergies can vary and may include skin irritations, itching, gastrointestinal issues, ear infections, or respiratory problems. If you suspect your pet has a food allergy, it's important to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and guidance.

When transitioning to a new food, especially when dealing with food allergies or sensitivities, a gradual approach is recommended to minimize digestive upset and allow the pet's system to adjust. Here are some steps to help transition to a new food:

  1. Choose the new food: Work with your veterinarian to select a new diet that is suitable for your pet's specific needs. It should be formulated to address any known allergies or sensitivities.

  2. Transition gradually: Start by mixing a small amount of the new food with your pet's current food. Begin with a ratio of 75% old food to 25% new food for a few days, then gradually increase the proportion of the new food over the course of a week or two. Monitor your pet's response during the transition.

  3. Observe for reactions: Keep a close eye on your pet for any signs of adverse reactions or digestive issues during the transition period. If any concerning symptoms arise, consult with your veterinarian.

  4. Monitor progress: Once the transition is complete and your pet is solely on the new food, observe their overall health and response. If there are ongoing issues or concerns, consult with your veterinarian for further evaluation and potential adjustments to the diet.

cat eating new food needs slow transition to avoid stomach problems

It's important to note that the specific transition timeline may vary depending on your pet's individual needs and tolerance. Some pets may require a longer transition period or more gradual changes. Your veterinarian can provide specific guidance based on your pet's unique circumstances.

Additionally, if you suspect a food allergy, your veterinarian may recommend an elimination diet or a limited ingredient diet to identify and avoid specific allergens. They can guide you through the process and help determine the best course of action for managing your pet's food allergies effectively.

Acupressure for Cooling, Warming and Neutral Benefits

Acupressure can also be used as a complementary care option to help cool, warm or keep your fur baby balanced. The goal of acupressure is to bring balance or keep the animal balanced by supporting the chi in the body.

dog getting acupressure from cold conditions to warm conditions

The two types of chi are yin and yang. These both need to be balanced to have a healthy body. Yin would be more cold in nature, while yang would be more hot. When they are out of balance, we see hot or cold conditions mentioned above. We can further categorize those hot/cold conditions into acute/chronic. This helps us determine a session plan!

Acupressure is great for preventative care as well. A balanced animal will be healthy. Providing acupressure to a healthy animal will support their natural ability to cope with the world. It also supports the immune system, bodily functions, and a healthy mind (calm, focused, and happy). Below are a couple more ways acupressure can help:

Final Thoughts

Warming, cooling, and neutral foods for pets can play a role in their overall well-being, especially in relation to temperature regulation and balancing their energy. Here's a summary of these categories:

  • Warming Foods: Warming foods are believed to provide heat to the body and can be beneficial during colder months or for pets with a naturally cooler constitution.

  • Cooling Foods: Cooling foods are thought to help lower body heat and can be useful during hot weather or for pets with excess heat-related conditions.

  • Neutral Foods: Neutral foods are considered to have a balancing effect on the body's energy and are generally safe for most pets.

It's important to remember that the classification of foods as warming, cooling, or neutral is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine principles and may vary depending on different perspectives and individual pet needs.

happy dog is balanced in traditional Chinese medicine and eats neutral foods

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