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Ty and Buster are senior dogs, but we’re not accepting old age lying down! We do everything we can to keep the boys fit, healthy, and feeling good – so when a friend invited us to visit his pets’ acupuncturist a few months back, we jumped at the opportunity. What we didn’t know was that Dr. Hein has also studied Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), and she had some interesting insights for us!
Ty and Buster love to pose with their food shipments from The Honest Kitchen, and if you look closely you’ll notice a difference in their two most recent photos:
That’s right – the dog food boxes are different! It’s because we changed the formulas the boys are eating, thanks to Dr. Hein’s advice.
One of the first questions most veterinarians ask is what we’re feeding our pets. For nearly seven years I’ve been proud to say that Ty and Buster eat The Honest Kitchen, a human-grade pet food made with natural ingredients. But Dr. Hein wanted more details … because after her cursory inspection of the dogs, she’d concluded they both had “too much heat” in their bodies.
Post-Ingestion Energetics of Food
The idea that certain foods can affect a body’s temperature isn’t an obscure concept – just imagine popping a spicy pepper in your mouth and breaking into a sweat, and you’ll know what I mean. Spicy peppers and watermelon are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but what I hadn’t considered before meeting with Dr. Hein is that all foods lie somewhere along that continuum. And every person and pet’s body lies somewhere along the hot-cold continuum as well. Using food, you can balance the natural tendencies of the body – and we had the opportunity to improve on that for Ty and Buster.
To help us identify foods that would support Ty and Buster’s health, Dr. Hein gave me a post-ingetion energetics breakdown of the ingredients in many pet foods, identifying them as cold, cool, neutral, warm, or hot. And, given Ty and Buster’s physiology, she suggested that we look for foods on the cool to neutral end of the scale.
There are many reasons to love The Honest Kitchen dog food – the fact that it’s human-grade, is made from ingredients I recognize, and comes dehydrated – which makes it perfect for traveling – are just a few. We’ve rotated the boys through different formulas for seven years now, and they still drool every time breakfast and dinner are served, so they obviously love it as much as we do!
To identify which formulas might work best given our new understanding of the boy’s “hot” bodies, I initially narrowed down the options to those composed primarily of fish and turkey – both are classified as “neutral,” which is a step better for Buster and Ty than the chicken formula we had been feeding them. Duck would have been even better, as it’s classified as “cool,” but Dr. Hein said that Ty is already oily enough (a common Shar-pei characteristic) and didn’t need the extra oil found in duck meat.
We rotate the dogs between two proteins to give them more diversity in their diets, and I had two fish formulas (Zeal and Brave) and three turkey formulas (Keen, Embark, and Marvel) to choose from. By printing out the handy comparison tool from The Honest Kitchen website, and referring to the post-ingestion energetics breakdown chart Dr. Hein had given me, I was able to label the “temperature” of each of the ingredients using colored pens. After analyzing the composition of each formula, I selected Brave and Embark as our best options.
It’s been two months since we switched the boys’ food, and I have to say, they’ve never looked better! The most noticeable change is in their coats – they’re silkier and glossier than they used to be, and they’ve lost that “slightly crunchy” texture. The color of Buster’s tongue and gums has also improved. What used to be red, almost to the point of appearing inflamed, is now a healthy pink.
So, there you have it – it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks! Meeting Dr. Hein was a pleasure, and I’m grateful that she shared her knowledge of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine with us. I hope these minor changes to the boys’ food help keep them healthy for years to come.