A Happy Heart for a Happy Dog: Creating a Heart-Friendly Diet Using the Five Element Theory

"To take medicine only when you are sick is like digging a well when you are thirsty. Is it not already too late?" The wisdom of this Ancient Chinese saying is unquestionable. Still, many prefer putting work and finances over health, creating a sensible imbalance, and such imbalances can be seen in our dogs as well. A happy and healthy life is proof of moderation, following the middle path, of bringing extremes into synergy.

Maintaining the balance is all about implementing preventative measures, being proactive, and preventing serious diseases from ever developing in our bodies, which is no different for dogs. Understanding, at the same time, that no two beings are alike, Ancient Chinese Medicine studied the link between natural elements, the seasons, and the body, and how the balance between complementary opposites, yin and yang, is the key to general health.

Finding Balance with the Five- Element Theory

Centuries of observation led to the creation of the Five-Element Theory, which states, based on the direct correlation between seasons and disease cycles, that the constant flow of energy in our bodies, called Qi (pronounced Chi), is interrupted by malfunctioning organs, which do not allow this energy to pass to the next set of organs as the seasons progress. For example, symptoms of malfunctioning kidneys and bladder will manifest themselves at the end of winter, their season, and continue with the stomach and spleen, and so on. This domino effect will continue until you assess the origin of the symptoms and treat it accordingly.

Summer is the Fire season: warmth and enthusiasm, heat and energy, and passion and dynamism reign supreme during this time of the year. At the same time, however, in the Five-Element Theory, the Fire season is associated with dog heart diseases. With the help of the Five-Element Theory, you will learn all about the proper food for dogs with heart disease and how the Volhard Natural Diet can bring balance back into your dog's life!

Summer is associated with the Fire personality, and with adolescence, the tongue, the heart and pericardium, small intestine and the Triple Heater, which isn’t an exact anatomical organ but is somewhat similar to the thyroid. The Fire personality is outgoing, talkative, friendly and likes to be the center of attention.

In the heat of summer, Fire problems such as Shen disturbance, which can be seen as noise phobia or other abnormal behaviors, are more likely to occur. To cool Fire dogs or any other hot animals in summer, feed cooling foods such as watermelon, celery (which also drains Damp, helping hot animals with diarrhea or moist dermatitis), greens, brown rice, millet, turkey, rabbit (which is also strengthening), clams, cod and other whitefish. Feeding the heart is also helpful. A cooling bed or fan is a great adjunct in hot weather.

Since the tongue is the sense organ of the Fire element, heart disease and Shen disturbance can sometimes be suspected by a red and/or bell-shaped tip to the tongue. Diagnosis can be done with conventional means, such as an echocardiogram and a thorough physical, along with a Chinese pulse examination. Treatment with food therapy, acupuncture and herbal medicine, along with any conventional medicine, can help.

To correctly assess the tongue, the dog must show it freely, without having the mouth opened externally. Often, when a person sticks out his/her tongue, the dog will do the same. If necessary, peek through the lips between the dog’s teeth to see the general tongue color, shape and moisture level.

Shen disturbance can be helped with Chinese herbal medicine (often a Heart Yin tonic) and non-Chinese medicine adjuncts such as Rescue Remedy given orally or rubbed on the hairless parts of ears several times a day. This is especially important during fireworks and thunderstorms.

Identifying Dog Heart Disease Signs

It is essential that you have a keen eye and understanding of how dogs behave during the Fire season. You will notice a scorched smell and hyperactivity in your canine companion, with often bursts of happiness. Together with small intestine ones, your dog will manifest heart issues through the following symptoms, which the hot days of summer does nothing but exacerbate:

  • conditions Associated with Heart/Small Intestine
  • red, itchy skin with blotches all over the body, hot spots
  • panting and shallow breathing
  • general weakness
  • pain in the pit of the stomach, or region of the heart
  • rapid heartbeat, insomnia
  • dryness in the throat, bleeding gums
  • pain along the middle of the front legs, with constant licking
  • difficulty in climbing stairs, limping
  • fluid retention
  • deafness
  • distention of the belly
  • painful places along the outside of the front leg and shoulder, limping in the front
  • difficulty in getting up after lying down for a while
  • excessive shedding of body hair
  • skin that turns black under the arms and belly
  • allergies that return at the same time every year
  • Behavioral manifestations are whining when moving, crying when climbing stairs, lack of interest in breeding, sudden limping front or rear legs, occasional deafness, hyperactivity, excessive playing, or no play behavior at all.

Choosing the 21-Day Heart & Small Intestine Cleansing & Balancing Diet

Once you've identified the imbalance in your dog's health, it's time to bring the extremes into balance again. Such a feat requires a friendly diet that will help cleanse and bring balance to your dog's health. Here at Volhard, we've put together: 21-day cleansing and balancing diet for a 50-pound dog.

Feed twice a day and adjust according to weight.

Protein: 20% of diet -- use one at a time -- white meat from chicken, lamb, mutton, cottage cheese, white fish slightly cooked, lamb and lamb liver mixed together, cooked pork and pork liver, mixed together. Use what your dog prefers

Grains: 40% of diet -- use one at a time, rotating the grains or mix together -- millet, brown rice, oats and buckwheat

Vegetables: 40% of the diet -- use one at a time rotating the vegetables or combine some together (lightly steam, or put through food processor) -- sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, celery, chard, asparagus, cauliflower, radishes, okra, broccoli and squash.

Note: For the very sick dog, the vegetables and meat should be lightly cooked and fed together with a digestive enzyme. When you see improvement, reintroduce your dog to raw food.

Herbs: 2 teaspoons dried -- use two or three together and rotate -- garlic, savory, thyme, basil, sage, caraway, marjoram, chamomile, melissa (lemon balm), angelica, dill, parsley, peppermint, pinch of cayenne and/or ginger, hawthorn, licorice

Fruits: rotate the following - 1 tablespoon black currants, blackberries, or shredded apples mixed with honey and goat's milk


A.M. Meal

1 gram (1,000 mg.) Vitamin C (calcium ascorbate) -- start with 500 mg., then slowly increase to 1 gram

1 Vitamin B-Complex

400 IU vitamin E

15 mg Coenzyme Q-10 tablet

1 Amino Acid complex tablet

2 teaspoons Lecithin granules

1 tablespoon , raw, local honey

1/4 teaspoon Luster (vit/min mix with efa's, used for skin)

1/4 teaspoon Digestive Enzymes

P.M. Meal

1 gram (1,000 mg.) Vitamin C (calcium ascorbate) -- start with 500 mg., then slowly increase to 1 gram

1 Vitamin B-Complex

1 tablespoon Raw Wheat Germ

1 tablespoon raw, local honey

1/4 teaspoon Luster (vit/min mix with efa's used for skin)

1/4 teaspoon Digestive Enzymes

Glandulars - Cardiotrophin PMG, 1 tablet in the a.m.

Note: This diet is lower in meat protein than the other cleansing diets and is used to calm down the small intestine.

Maintenance Diet After three weeks, return to either the Natural Diet or the Natural Diet Foundation. Any time hot spots reappear, go back and do the cleansing diet again, but just for one week at a time, until the body has re-balanced.

Expressions of Triple Heater/Pericardium

During Summer, the energy of the body is in two other organ systems, the Triple Heater and the Pericardium. The Triple Heater is unique to TCM. The Chinese divide the body into three parts. The upper body is called the Upper Heater, the middle body is called the Middle Heater, and the lower part of the body is called the Lower Heater. When a specific area of the body is not functioning correctly, for example, the back legs, which would be in the Lower Triple Heater, it puts the body out of balance and compensations have to be made in other parts of the body. Therefore, the Triple Heater has to be treated together with the other organ systems to regain balance. The Pericardium represents the sheath of tissue surrounding the heart and is considered its protector. Many emotional conditions manifesting themselves in odd behavior in our dogs, can be treated using the Pericardium acupuncture points.

Conditions Associated with Triple Heater/Pericardium

  • thyroid and adrenal malfunction
  • edema
  • difficulty in urination
  • limping and pain in front legs and shoulders
  • agitated and suspicious
  • running in circles, shaking, poor balance
  • head tilts, dizziness, staggering
  • swelling in armpits
  • biting feet from underneath
  • toenails that grow fast
  • lick granulomas in the middle of front leg
  • ear-aches, bleeding gums

Acupuncture and nutritional supplementation can do wonders in treating these conditions.

  • TH 5 - to re-balance the body.
  • PC 6 - all behavioral abnormalities
  • To calm a dog who hates having his nails clipped, use these points together.

Note: Where thyroid, adrenal, circulatory or heart conditions are suspected, a good working relationship with your veterinarian is a must. Continued monitoring through blood work, plus the use of medication is often required for successful, long-term treatment.

21-day cleansing and balancing diet for a 50-pound dog

Since these meridians and organs are energized at the same time of the year as the Heart and Small Intestine, the diet is the same.

Maintenance Diet

After three weeks, return to either the Natural Diet or the Natural Diet Foundation. Any time symptoms reappear, go back and do the cleansing diet again, but for one week at a time, until the body has re-balanced.


Now that your dog's heart issues have been dealt with through the proper cleansing diet, the real work of keeping your dog's health balanced begins, and the Volhard diet is here to accompany your dog on this journey. Ready to learn more about the Five-Element Theory and how it can positively influence your dog's health? Feel free to contact us or check out our blog!