As Easter approaches, our thoughts turn to baby chicks, egg hunts, and chocolate rabbits, all of which create happy thoughts for people and potential health hazardous for our pets.
Baby chicks can spread bacterial organisms (Salmonella, etc.) to both people and pets.
Taking your dog along for Easter egg hunts may lead to dietary indiscretion and subsequent gastrointestinal illness (vomit, diarrhea, etc.).
Chocolate rabbits nestled into festive baskets create an edible target for curious canine mouths and result in toxicity from cocoa based stimulants.
As these holiday hazards should be familiar to familiar to pet owners, I am taking a different approach with this Easter 2012 themed Daily Vet article. Besides the well publicized potential for Easter associated toxins, what other implications do chicken, eggs, and rabbits have on your pet’s health? Many - from my perspective as a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM).
In Chinese medicine, food has inherent warming (Yang), cooling (Yin), or neutral properties. This applies to proteins, grains, vegetables, and fruit. Additionally, the format in which food comes from — whether nature or prepared by humans — has similar energetic implications.
Yang energy is external, drying, heating, and energizing. Conversely, Yin is internal, moistening, cooling, and calming. When Yang and Yin energy are balanced, organ systems function in harmony and disease states are minimized. Unfortunately, human and animal bodies are continually influenced by environmental exposure, infection, toxins, age, and other imbalance-causing factors.
There are diseases and clinical signs associated with Yang and Yin energies. Excessive Yang (or deficient Yin) can cause:
- Inflammation (allergic skin and inflammatory bowel disease [IBD], arthritis, etc.)
- Behavior (anxiety, aggression, etc.) and neurologic (seizures) problems
- Glandular abnormalities (Cushing’s disease, feline hyperthyroidism)
- Immune mediated disease (Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia [IMHA] and Thrombocytopenia [IMTP])
Excessive Yin (or deficient Yang) contributes to:
- Degenerative conditions (age related changes, degenerative joint disease, etc.)
- Glandular abnormalities (canine hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, etc.)
- Behavior problems (canine cognitive dysfunction)
If your pet suffers from one of these conditions, food energy could be a contributing cause and an important remedy. The best means of integrating these principles into your pet’s treatment protocol is under the guidance of a TCVM trained veterinarian. I follow the Chi Institute’s general guidelines for Chinese medicine energy associated with specific foods.
- Protein: chicken (including egg yolk), goat, lamb, lobster, prawn/shrimp, venison
- Grains and beans: oats, white rice
- Vegetables and fruit: apricot, blackberry, cherry, citrus, coconut, garlic ginger, papaya, peach, plum, pumpkin, squash
- Protein: rabbit, chicken, egg white, cod, clam/mussel, duck (including egg), frog, goose, oyster, scallop, turkey, yogurt
- Grains and beans: barley, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, mung bean, wheat bran/flower, tofu
- Vegetables and fruit: banana, berries, broccoli, cranberry, eggplant, mango, mushroom, melon, pear, persimmon, seaweed/kelp, spinach, strawberry, watermelon
- Protein: carp, catfish, beef (including liver), pork (including kidney/liver), salmon, sardines
- Grain: corn, black-, kidney-, green-, red-, soy-bean
- Vegetables and fruit: apple, asparagus, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, date, pineapple, white potato
Dry food is inherently Yang, as the majority of the moisture inherent in naturally occurring sources has been cooked out. In comparison to moist and whole foods sources, dry format has a dehydrating effect, requiring the body to secrete liquids (gastric acid, bile, pancreatic enzymes) or drink water to facilitate digestion.
In returning to our Easter theme, feeding chicken to your pet has a warming effect. This consequence is increased when chicken meal or dry format is consumed (both of which I do not recommend). Over time, the heating properties of chicken can add needed heat to the body or exacerbate Yang associated illness. This is a contributing reason to why so many pets are "allergic to chicken."
Eggs are more complicated, as the yolk is considered warming while the white is cooling. Additionally, the type of fowl that produced the egg also contributes to its Yang or Yin properties.
Rabbit has cooling energetic properties that calm the fire of excess associated with skin allergies, IBD, IMHA, and cancer. Rabbit is considered a novel protein source and an option for the management of hot, itchy, skin and digestive problems.
My dog, Cardiff, has suffered three bouts of IMHA in his six years of life and I use food energy to control his disease. During his IMHA episodes, rabbit, duck, and goose are some of the Yin food sources I used to treat his illness. Now that Cardiff is non-hemolytic, he eats a combination of human grade "dog food" containing turkey (cooling) and beef (neutral).
This Easter, and on an ongoing basis, consider the food energy implications of the chicken, egg, rabbit, and other foods consumed by your pet.
Dr. Patrick Mahaney