Food Therapy

Introduction to Food Therapy


In Food Therapy, the goal is to create a balance within the body and in the overall foods given to each pet. It doesn't mean that warming ingredients are not used in Spring and Summer recipes, rather it means we learn to balance the diet so that the pet does not have any negative fall-out from the food choices. For instance, if we opt to use chicken (warming) for its potent digestive tonic effects, then we balance it with a veggie blend that is cooling.


For Spring, we move to a place where an overall neutral to cooling thermal nature is optimal. Below are general guidelines. Pets with special needs will need a more tailored approach. Please contact VPC to schedule time if you have questions.



  • Occasional use of WARMING meats: chicken
  • Frequent use of NEUTRAL meats: beef, bison, sardine, rabbit
  • Frequent use of COOLING meats: grass-fed(GF) beef, GF bison, turkey, white fish
  • Intermittent and infrequent use of COLD meats: duck



  • Decrease root veggies to 40% or less and increase surface veggies to 60% or more
  • Add in squash, zucchini and a small amount of broccoli for Fluid-building effects
  • Add spinach into leafy green rotation
  • Use kale and another green to get maximal effect in liver detoxification
  • Note: kale is out of season, so baby kale will be less bitter at this time of year
  • Celery is great to smooth Liver Qi, which helps to quell itching


GRAINS (for cooked diets only; no more than 5% of diet)

  • Millet and brown rice are cooling
  • Quinoa is warming in nature
  • Millet and quinoa are not truly grains. They are seeds, thus unlike grains, they are not pro-inflammatory and are good to use in skin cases. Combine quinoa with millet or brown rice in the recipe to stay neutral.
  • Remember the goal is an overall thermal quality of neutral to cooling
  • AVOID oats! (HOT!)



Freeze dried organ meats: LIVER, kidney, and heart


AVOID Pizzles & Bully Sticks, which are HOT!



  • Duck feet, which are perfect chewies for this time of year. (yummy!)
  • Buffalo Liver treats (dry-roasted & freeze-dried)
  • Turkey (cooling): breast strips, liver and hearts
  • Salmon (neutral) and cod (cooling)


Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried:

  • K9 Beef Nibblets and Turkey Nibblets
  • K9 Beef tripe
  • Turkey Necks, Salmon Skins
  • Feline Fish Nibblets & Turkey Nibblets (small bites)


Stella & Chewy's Carnivore Crunch:

  • Turkey, Beef, Fish, and Duck Carnivore Crunch


More available! Just look at labels and select products made in US, Canada, and New Zealand.


Summer Heat affects the body in considerable ways. Our nutritional goal is eliminating the excess heat without sacrificing the digestive Qi. The excess Damp from the Spring created a weaker Digestive Qi this year, so digestive support will play a larger role this year. The challenge is to BALANCE the effects of cooling foods with foods to support digestive Qi without creating more heat.



  • Avoid use of single-source duck, as it is COLD. Though the cold nature might help control the heat, the COLD will exacerbate digestive insufficiency
  • Use NEUTRAL to COOLING meats like rabbit, salmon, sardine, turkey, GF* beef, GF* bison, emu & whitefish
  • Avoid HOT meats like lamb and venison
  • Occasional use of WARM meats like chicken, pheasant, quail & trout
  • Add organ meat to meals such as heart and kidney; start with lower amounts, as the rich & cloying nature of organ meats may not be as easily digested in a weakened system




Mother Nature provides the veggies the body needs when it needs them. If it is off-season for a veggie, don't use it!

  • Decrease root veggies to 40% or less
  • Increase surface veggies to 60% or more
  • Every batch should have celery and green beans
  • Minimal use of sweet veggies - carrots and sweet potatoes are preferred over green peas and butternut squash
  • Add seaweed in each batch --> it is COLD, salty, and tonifies the Kidneys thus will put out the FIRE. However, too much seaweed will promote digestive insufficiency, thus slow, gradual increases are best
  • Add small amounts cucumbers when Heat Signs are noticed (see Heat Signs). Remember, cucumbers have a detoxifying effect on the intestines, so start low and move slowly



  • Should encompass no more than 5-10% of cooked diets
  • DO NOT add any grains to raw food!
  • Cooling grains include brown rice and millet
  • Can alternate cooling grains with quinoa (warming) for Kidney & allergy benefit



In the current climate, the use of Tripe Treats from Vital Essentials is a must! It is a single-ingredient; freeze dried, unbleached tripe, which acts as a potent digestive tonic.


All pets should receive heart in the Summer. Freeze dried heart works nicely with any type of diet, such as:

  • Momentum (duck & turkey)


Melons may be given away from meat meals, though to a lesser extent in cancer cases.


Cucumber slices may be given as treats or placed in water bowl daily for Cooling.


Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Nibblets:

  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Tripe


Stella & Chewy's Carnivore Crunch:

  • Beef (neutral to cooling)
  • Duck, which uses duck (cold) & turkey (cooling).
  • Turkey
  • Salmon & Cod (overall cooling)


BRAVO: cooling freeze-dried and dry-roasted treats

  • Cod
  • Buffalo liver
  • Turkey hearts and turkey breast


Many other options are available, so READ THE LABELS and determine if it is MADE IN USA and if it meets the criteria for Summer.


In the Fall we are continuing the transition to cooler weather. At this time, the goals of food therapy shift toward an overall neutral to warming diet. Protecting and tonifying the digestion provides more nutrients (Ying Qi) for the LU to disperse to the body to bolster the immune system (Wei Qi).


Basic Tenets for Fall Food Therapy:

  1. Use fewer cooling vegetables
  2. Eliminate cold meats (i.e. duck) and cold veggies (i.e., cucumber)
  3. Increase warming, qi-tonic root veggies
  4. Use steamed or slow-cooked veggies
  5. Raw food diets - add Zypan (Betaine HCl & Pepsin) to warm digestion and increase digestibility
  6. AVOID phlegm-forming foods such as pork and dairy products
  7. Cook using less water and lower heats for longer periods
  8. Add whole food Vitamin C or Canine Immune Support during the transition to cooler weather for immune boosting effect



Incorporate the following:

  • WARM meats, such as chicken, pheasant, grain-fed beef, grain-fed buffalo and trout
  • NEUTRAL meats frequently such as salmon and rabbit
  • Occasional use of HOT meats such as venison and lamb
  • Occasional use of COOL meats such as: turkey, emu, grass-fed beef, grass-fed buffalo
  • AVOID using cold meats like duck



  • In general, surface veggies are neutral to cooling and root veggies are warming
  • Make changes gradually to help body transition more easily
  • Increase root veggies slowly to 50% of veggie blend
  • Incorporate turnips, parsnips or winter squashes
  • Use kale, Swiss chard, turnip greens more often and spinach less frequently.
  • A variety of 4-5 veggies is always best!
  • For cooked diets, steaming is best method followed by slow-cooking.
  • Add digestive enzymes with raw veggie mashes



  • In cooked food diets, use small amounts (5%) grain
  • Quinoa is a perfect "whole grain" to use in cooked diets for the Fall and Winter, as it tonifies KI yang. This can be alternated with a cooling grain, such as brown rice or millet.
  • Remember, grains are not used in raw food diets



Use dry roasted or freeze-dried meats or organ meat treats

  • Stella & Chewy's
  • Nature's Variety
  • Vital Essentials
  • Honest Kitchen


In addition, Ziwi Peak and Real Meat Diet air-dried dog foods are fabulous treats for Fall.



When feeding whole foods, a rotation of approved foods ensures a higher nutrient exposure. Please check with your veterinary health care provider for options for your pet.


The goals for Food Therapy (FT) of fall continue into winter with a few additions. As the Kidney (KI) meridian is the root of the body, it is important to utilize foods and food combinations to balance the KI Yin and KI Yang.


Basic Tenets:

  1. Winter leafy greens are your best friend's best friend, like kale, red kale, Swiss chard, turnip greens, etc
  2. A small amount of seaweed can be added. Nori, or sushi seaweed, is readily available at most markets. Crumble a ½ sheet into the steeping phase of your cooked diet or use it in raw veggie mashes as described below
  3. In Texas, overall thermal nature should be neutral to warming. Individual needs may vary a bit.
  4. Cooked foods longer at lower temperatures - slow cooking is the best method
  5. Organ meat supplementation is critical!



Incorporate the following:

  • WARM meats such as chicken, pheasant, grain-fed beef, grain-fed buffalo and trout
  • NEUTRAL meats such as salmon & rabbit
  • Periodic use of HOT meats in Texas, though can use more frequently in colder climates, such as lamb and venison
  • Occasional use of COOLING meats such as turkey, emu, grass-fed beef, grass-fed buffalo
  • Incorporate ORGAN MEATS, such as heart, liver, kidney and gizzards. (Warning: cooked kidney is quite odiferous!)
  • AVOID COLD meats such as duck as a stand-alone protein.



  • Maintain 50:50 root to surface vegetable ratio
  • Use lesser amounts of sweet veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash
  • Incorporate turnips, parsnips and winter squashes if not already done so
  • Use MORE dark, leafy greens such as kale, red kale, Swiss chard, turnip greens, collard greens, etc
  • Seaweed can be added in small amounts to all diets. Options include nori (as used for sushi) or other dried seaweeds



Quinoa millet are the 2 most useful "grains: to use in cooked diets for the winter. Quinoa has a warming thermal nature and tonifies KI yang, while millet has cooling thermal nature. Both of these "grains" are not really grains at all. They are seeds. Thus any concerns in using true grains in various diets are not applicable here


Other true grain use includes:

  • Occasional use of cooling brown rice
  • Occasional & minimal use of hot oats

REMEMBER: Grain is limited to very small amounts (~5-10%) in dogs, AVOIDED in kitty foods and raw food diets.



Use dry roasted or freeze-dried meats or organ meat treats

  • Stella & Chewy's
  • Nature's Variety
  • Vital Essentials
  • Honest Kitchen


In addition, Ziwi Peak and Real Meat Diet air-dried dog foods are fabulous treats for Winter.




Thermal Qualities


H=hot, W=warming, N=neutral, C=cooling, CD=cold
Protein   Grains
H: Lamb N: Whole eggs (yolk=W, white=C) H: Oats
H: Venison N: Beef H: Quinoa
W: Chicken C: Buffalo N: Buckwheat
W: Trout C: Turkey C: Barley
N: Pork C: Whitefish (except trout) C: Millet
N: Rabbit C: Tofu C: Amaranth
N: Salmon CD: Duck C: Brown Rice


Please note: These guidelines are for overall healthy individuals. Specific diseases may require slightly differing protocols. Please contact your holistic veterinarian if your pet has special needs to be addressed.


If it grows in the air and sunshine, it is probably yang;
If it grows in the earth or darkness, it is probably yin;
If it is soft, wet and cool, it is more yin;
If it is hard, dry and spicy, or needs heating up, it is more yang.