So, what does it all mean and how does all of this factor into my approach to veterinary care?
Back to my candle analogy….. I don’t want your dog’s flame to extinguish when there is still wax in the candle to be burned. These dogs die too early, when they could have enjoyed much more time with their beloved families. And I don’t want your dog’s flame to burn so flatly, with so little energy or quality of life that the candle keeps burning, but gives off very little light.
These dogs die slowly, and may enjoy a longer life, but their last months aren’t quality months. My goal with my clients is to help provide a long healthy life but not by sacrificing quality of life. So if a pet is suffering from a degenerative disease (like diabetes, cushings disease, cancer, etc.), regardless of the length of their candle and wick (genetics), I will to make sure the there is sufficient energy to burn what is left of the candle (provide Qi through nutrition/food, herbs and cosmic energy with exercise and oxygen).
I will do my best not to allow the flame to go out before the candle has been completely consumed. This will allow the flame to continue to burn providing the energy to continue living and the functioning of the internal organs. Providing this external source of Qi may also cause the candle to burn brighter allowing it to radiate and illuminate the world which allows for a good spirit or shen…..happiness…. and a better quality of life.
Because the universe is maintained by balance, the treatments necessary to give your dog a better quality of life may result in a sacrifice of quantity (length) of life….we cannot escape the “see saw” of balance. I have been told, many times, by my clients, that even though their pet may have a life threatening terminal disease it appears that he/she is healthier than ever before…
Isn’t that better than living longer with a poor quality of life in which there is prolonged suffering?
Understanding the Five Energies of TCVM.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on a core belief in balance. TCM practitioners for humans and pets alike believe that everything in the universe, including the body, has two opposite aspects called Yin and Yang. This balance has everything to do with overall health. As the Huang Di Nei Jing says, “No disease occurs if Yin and Yang maintain a relative balance. Disease occurs when there is loss of the balance between Yin and Yang.”
Could health really be this simple?
The answer is yes, and this “ancient” philosophy is something our grandparents and great-grandparents embraced and attempted to pass on as well. “Everything in moderation,” they would say.
But, let’s dig in a bit deeper. In TCVM, the ancient Chinese divided the world into 5 different categories. These five categories have direct and indirect effects on each other, and each of these categories is present not only in the world around us, but show up representatively in our body as well. Each category is representative of a season of the year, an organ system within the body and a constitution/personality of the pet. The five categories are referred to as the Five Elements. Each organ system works both independently of the others and also works together to promote (support) or control the others. This relationship of “checks and balances” is based on the philosophy of how a family dynamic should work. Any weakness or excess in any element can produce clinical effects on the others. Hence why we treat the body as a whole (Holistic). In future blogs I will provide a summary of each of the five elements as well as what it may mean for your dog’s health.
NUTRITION IS THE CENTERPIECE OF GOOD HEALTH.
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. The same goes for our pets. We really are what we eat, as whatever is eaten becomes part of the body at a cellular level. This isn’t about picking the best kibble. In fact, kibble isn’t really ideal at all. A proper, balanced diet for your dog is prepared with a variety whole food. Feed the best you can afford to your pup to provide the fuel necessary to live — well — for many many years to come. Here are a few guidelines:
- Feed wholesome foods to fuel the body with good nutrition.
- Feed foods that are locally grown as they will be appropriate to balance with the climate. (More on this in my next blog.)
- Feed organic and/or grass fed meats when possible.
- Avoid processed foods.
“It matters not whether medicine is old or new, so long as it brings about a cure. It matters not whether theories are Eastern or Western, so long as they prove to be true”
Please stay tuned for next weeks blog….. Understanding the Five Energies of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine…the series.
Michel Selmer, DVM, MS, CTCVMP – “The Caring Vet”