In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), the body is meant to remain in balance by having equal levels of yin and yang. This is why the yin yang symbol is often used to signify peace as things in balance are said to be in harmony with each other.
When one is higher than the other, a pet can be yin or yang deficient. Yin typically refers to cooling, moistening, recovery, and relaxing behaviors and body functions. As the opposite of yin, yang refers to heating, fiery, hot, and active characteristics and physiology.
TCVM recognizes that yin depletes naturally with aging--that is, by simply living. A cat or dog with a yin deficiency might show these signs:
- Dry skin and eyes
- Excess panting
- Low fever/Hot flashes
Animals that heat seek a lot or live in cold climates can present with yang deficiency. Symptoms of low yang include:
- Urinary incontinence
- Back pain or weakness
- Rear limb weakness
- Edema (fluid excess)
Correcting Imbalances/Opposites Attract
Yin and yang animals have certain characteristics that typically hold true. A dog with less yang than yin might be seen as quiet and heat-seeking whereas the opposite is true of a dog with yang in excess of yin.
The theory of yin and yang is used in our daily lives in accordance with the notion that everything has an opposite--sun and moon, day and night, hot and cold, fast and slow, life and death, heaven and earth, strength and weakness, front and back, salty and sweet, male and female, light and dark.
It makes sense, then, that everything within the body is also paired with an opposite--sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, head and feet, back and abdomen, calcium and phosphorous. Even the organs can be divided into yin and yang.
Yin organs include:
Yang organs include:
- Large intestine
- Gall bladder
- Small intestine
Cooling & Heating With Food and Herbs
Because yin and yang animals commonly have issues with internal heating and cooling, respectively, treatment is often referred to as fixing the thermostat--either the A/C or the heater. Both herbs and nutrition can be used to tonify yin and yang.
Yin tonifying foods, or "cooler" diets, include:
- Meats/protein: fish, turkey, duck, rabbit, egg, tofu
- Fruits: banana, apple, pear
- Veggies: kelp, spinach, broccoli, celery
- Grains: brown rice
- Herbs: angelica, rehmannia
Yang tonifying foods, or "warmer" diets, include:
- Meats/protein: lamb, venison, chicken, grain-fed beef
- Fruits: blackberry, cherry
- Veggies: squash, pumpkin, pepper
- Grains: white rice, oats
- Herbs: ginger, cinnamon, morinda, fennugreek, caraway
If your pet is diagnosed with a yin or yang deficiency, the veterinarian might prescribe a diet change and add in some tonifying herbs. Food sensitivities can also be linked to a yin or yang deficiency, with a pet being intolerant of foods in the same category, such as chicken and beef.