As summer heat approaches, it brings to mind a traditional Chinese food philosophy of yin and yang – certain foods have a “heaty” or heat-inducing quality (too much yang) vs foods with a “cooling” or chilling effect (too much yin) on the body and its organ systems. When heat-cold is out of balance, the body is more susceptible to developing health problems.
The concept of “Chinese Food Therapy” is described in the Huangdi Neiji, the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (500 BC). Eating too many “heaty” foods such as chili peppers or lobster could result in rash and dry skin while eating too many “cooling” foods such as watermelon could cause GI upsets and lower immunity to viruses.
In the summer, cooling foods are believed to have an effect of clearing heat and toxins. Some cooling foods are apples, watermelon, alfalfa sprouts, seaweed, eggs, and barley. Examples of heaty foods are mango, guava, pumpkin, butter, venison, and shrimp. Neutral foods include berries, peas, carrots, and sweet potato.
Pet parents face special risks during hot weather. Depending on the lifestyle of the dog and cat, the following are good to keep in mind during the summer months.
Heat Stroke: One of the most serious and often fatal conditions commonly occurs in summer months as a result of prolonged exposure of pets to excessive heat. Prevention is the best cure – avoid direct sun exposure (especially for dark coats), never leave pets in a car, beware of sun burns from shaved or thin/short hair, check the surface temperature to prevent paw burns, and adjust walk and exercise times to cooler temperatures and shade. Short-faced breeds have a hard time keeping cool as it difficult for them to pant.
Water & Safety: It is essential to have available cool, fresh water to drink at all times. Wading pools are great for cooling off. If a pet swims, ensure that there is a means to get out of the water (steps/ramp for pools and boats), personal flotation device if needed, and never leave unattended.
Travel: Air travel is not advised in the summer and many airlines will not ship where and when the temperatures are too high. For car travel, do not leave pets unattended. Also be conscious of the temperature in and around the crate. Cool tips include using frozen liter bottles of water, placing sunshades on the windows, and providing a means of drinking water during the trip at all times.
Summer Diet: Adjust the pet’s diet to match lifestyle activities during the summer and the amount of time spent in the heat. Decrease the caloric intake if a pet will be spending more time relaxing indoors, Increase the caloric intake if a pet will be more active outside in the pool. If possible, increase more cooling foods in their diet.
Petbrosia diets are convenient as each formula is customized and also contain cooling (apples, seaweed, egg) and neutral (sweet potato, carrots, peas) food ingredients that will help balance the Yin-Yang needs for the dog.