Summer is just right around the corner, and you know what that means - time for you and your favorite furry companion to go outside and play! You can finally take that hiking trip you've been planning, go swimming in the lake, or just have a nice outdoor picnic where you can play fetch with your dog.
Fruits and vegetables are filled with antioxidants and vitamins which help your dog fight disease. Antioxidants are known for fighting against cancers and building your dog's immunity, so they are less likely to become ill. Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your dog's diet is an easy way to fight disease naturally.
In this blog, we'll tell you the top 5 summer fruits and veggies that will do just that!
What is Chinese Medicine's Five Element Theory?
The Five Element theory describes Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water as the material world's basic elements.
In Chinese medicine, elements help us understand the patient and their personality. It also helps us determine the best and most effective treatment plan.
In TCM, the Five Elements are dynamic: they create, control, and constantly interact with each other. Each element is said to generate—give rise—to another element. This generating sequence is a type of "mother-son" relationship, where the parent gives life to and nurtures the child.
In the Five Element theory, Fire generates Earth. Earth generates Metal. Metal generates Water. Water generates Wood. Wood generates Fire. One jumping-off point for remembering this sequence is to think of how rubbing twigs (i.e., wood) together can create fire.
Additionally, each element controls and is controlled by another element, creating a system of checks and balances. Ideally, this system guarantees that one element will not over-dominate another element for any lengthy period of time. The controlling sequence is as follows: Fire controls Metal. Metal controls Wood. Wood controls Earth. Earth controls Water. Water controls Fire. An easy way to begin memorizing the controlling relationships is to think of how Water can quickly douse—control—Fire.
Disturbances in these natural generating and controlling orders give rise to pathological symptoms. For instance, if the Wood element is too excessive in the body, it may begin "over-controlling" the Earth element. This is a common pathology in clinical practice. One way it can be used is to understand why feeling excessively angry (Wood's emotion) can give one a stomachache (the stomach is one of Earth's organs).
Here are the five elements explained in more detail to help you understand the theory better:
Canines with earth elements are calm and laid-back. They are kind, honest, and loyal. They like to take care of others, and they also love to eat. These dogs are usually big and round, probably due to their big appetites. And since these dogs love munching so much, their element is ruled by the stomach and spleen. If your dog's energy is unbalanced, he can exhibit digestive issues, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and appetite loss, especially during the solstice, as this is the season Earth is associated with.
Season: Late summer
Organs: Spleen; Stomach
Sense Organ: Mouth
Bodily Tissue: Muscles
If your dog is a wood element, they tend to be dominant and confident. They are strong, athletic, and have a muscular structure.
These dogs would make good agility or rescue canines as they also tend to be competitive.
When provoked, these dogs can become aggressive since they feel that they are the alpha. The liver and gallbladder rule the wood element since it is the liver that creates protein to produce strong muscles. During springtime, your canine's energy is focused on these organs, and if it is unbalanced, it can lead to liver disease, muscle tears and strains, nail and foot problems, and anal sac disease.
Organs: Liver; Gallbladder
Sense Organ: Eye
Bodily Tissue: Tendons
The metal element is obedient and likes to keep things in order. These dogs are easy to train because they like to follow the rules. They have a confident stature, showing off their broad chest and good haircoat. The metal dogs have energy concentrated in their lungs and large intestine. These dogs tend to display respiratory problems like asthma, sinus, cough, and dry skin during the fall.
Organs: Lung; Large Intestine
Sense Organ: Nose
Bodily Tissue: Body hair
If your dog is an introvert and likes to hide when strangers try to pet them, then they're probably a water element. These dogs are usually afraid of new environments and are easily stressed out. They are known to be fear biters and pee when they are scared. Their kidney and bladder rule water elements. They are associated with the winter season, and during this time, your dog will show urinary infections, reproductive problems, arthritis, back pain, deafness, and growth problems.
Organs: Kidneys; Urinary Bladder
Sense Organ: Ear
Bodily Tissue: Bone
Dogs with fire elements are energetic and outgoing. They are extroverted and love to be petted by people. They get easily excited and often bark a lot when they do. When we think of fire, we also associate it with the color red and passion. That is why fire's energy is found in the heart. When the hot summer season comes, medical issues such as restlessness, separation anxiety, dehydration, insomnia, tongue issues, and cardiovascular problems start to occur.
Organs: Heart; Small Intestine
Sense Organ: Tongue
Bodily Tissue: Blood vessel
What Should I Feed My Dog in the Summer?
The overall goal of nutrition in the east and west is to maintain a strong, healthy body. While we agree on things like eating a variety of food and avoiding too many unhealthy chemical additives, there are differences. In Eastern medicine theory, it is all about eating to your constitution and individual needs and whether you are excessive or deficient in any specific area and matching the energetic properties of food accordingly.
The concept of Yin and Yang is central to Chinese medicine theory and describes how opposing forces can interconnect while being present in all things. Two dynamic energies maintain balance and harmony throughout the entire universe and within each human body. Chinese medicine advises that an excess of yin should be countered with more yang and vice versa.
This can be explained with the five element theory, its categorizations, and how it provides a framework to assist us in making food choices that will be most beneficial to a person at a given time. The elements of the five-element theory are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. These elements support and restrain each other in continuous patterns and must be kept in balance.
These 5 elements correlate to every aspect of life, including colors, sounds, emotions, seasons, direction, climate, sense organs, solid body organs, taste, smell, and more.
Seasonally, the 5 elements match Wood with spring, Fire with summer, Earth with late summer, Metal with autumn, and Water with winter.
Environmentally, the pairings are Wood with wind, Fire with heat, Earth with dampness, Metal with dryness, and Water with cold.
Taste is Wood with sour, Fire with bitter, Earth with sweet, Metal with intense, and Water with salty.
Color is Wood with green, Fire with red, Earth with yellow, Metal with white, and Water with black.
Solid organs are Wood with liver, Fire with heart, Earth with spleen, Metal with lung, and Water with kidney. It is important to remember that these organs are not the same as anatomical and physiological concepts; they refer to related systems and include spiritual and emotional aspects and physical entities.
Fire, summer's element, brings warmth, light, and movement. It is often used as a metaphor for passion, which, much like fire, can be a slow smoldering or a wild flame. Fire is a creative force and also has the power to destroy.
The warmth of summer brings our dogs outdoors into nature to enjoy the heat and engage in outdoor activities. These outdoor activities and exercise help stimulate a healthy appetite. Still, when they are more active, they burn off the extra fuel more efficiently (even more so with the fire element's internal heat). So, summer is a time when the dog's metabolism is activated, and they are nourished by lighter, more cooling foods to keep them in balance with their climate and environment. It's also a time when you want to use quick-cooking methods like sautéing, steaming, and blanching and enjoy more raw foods.
Top 5 Summer Fruits and Veggies For Your Dog
Watermelon is a sure crowd-pleaser for everyone during the summer, including your dogs. Since watermelons are more than 90 percent water, it's a great way to keep your dogs hydrated. There are numerous health benefits of eating watermelons as they contain Vitamins A, C, and B6, fiber, and potassium. Vitamin B6 and potassium help keep your dog's blood pumping throughout their body, and it also lowers blood pressure, which promotes better heart health. Giving your pup a nice cool watermelon snack (minus the seeds, of course) will keep their tails wagging for a long time.
Just like its cousin above, a sweet cantaloupe is not only delicious but is also jam-packed with antioxidants. It is loaded with Vitamins A, B, C, fiber, beta carotene, folate, and potassium. That means if you feed this to your pooch, you're guaranteed to leave them with healthy cells in their heart, lungs, liver, and all the other organs in their body. The potassium in cantaloupe also decreases blood pressure, and the fiber promotes a healthy bowel movement.
Blueberries make a tasty snack for your hound and can even substitute your regular training treats. Known to be the king of antioxidants, blueberries can significantly boost your dog's immune system, as well as prevent cancer, inflammation, and urinary problems. Antioxidants can also benefit your dog's cognitive function and delay mental decline. So when you're teaching your fur baby some new tricks during the summer, be sure to give them some blueberries as a yummy reward, which also counts as brain food, to help them stay sharp.
Leafy greens like kale are also high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron, which support healthy bones, and a healthy heart. As it's vitamin-packed, feeding your dog kale can support vision and colon health, liver detoxification, and fight off infections. Kale's essential vitamins like K, A, and Iron provide bone health, proper vision and immune function, fetal development, and energy metabolism.
Bitter Herbs like Mustard Greens and Dandelion Leaves
Mustard greens contain many health-boosting antioxidants like beta carotene, which can protect your dog's skin and lower risk factors of diabetes. The greens are also a great source of several B vitamins, including thiamine (B1,) niacin (B3,) and pyridoxine (B6.)
Dandelion greens aren't just good for your dog; they're a great ingredient in dog food. Not only are dandelion greens a natural source of vitamins A, C, K, D, and B, but they contain protein and essential minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and manganese.
Although fruits and veggies are fantastic for your dog's health, remember to feed in moderation. Too much of one thing might cause more harm than good to your pup's well-being. Nonetheless, we hope that this information will help you become more aware of your dog's health needs and that you will take the necessary preventive actions to keep your fur baby healthy and well-balanced this summer. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!
Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!