Tag Archives: raw diet

Point of view on raw feeding by a raw feeder!

I came across this blog and I enjoyed the point of view of a raw feeder on raw feeding that was different than most. It is a very common sense approach and I would encourage whomever is looking for information about raw diets to keep an open mind and read this blog link. We often hear about the people wanting to feed their dogs like wolves…..dogs are not wolves. They are domesticated and that makes a big difference on how they evolved. I am open minded about the subject and I like to stay objective when I look at arguments from both sides.



raw diets

Food Therapy in Traditional Chinese Medicine

 Hippocrates said — “Let food be thy medicine & let thy medicine be food”.

One of the five major branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine is Food Therapy. The other branches are acupuncture, exercise, Tui-Na massage and herbal therapy.  Food therapy is based on the theory that different types of food can be used as treatment for various medical conditions. There is a large variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and herbs that can be beneficial in healing different ailments.

Food therapy is a great idea for clients that want to feed their pets home-made food, are already preparing home-made diets for their pets or are interested in supplementing whole foods to dry commercial diets.

Food Therapy is based on two fundamental principles: “Food Energetics” and “Pattern Differentiation.” Let’s discuss these two principles in added detail.

Food Energetics

This principle refers to the effect food has on multiple processes of the body, particularly the digestive, metabolic, and physiological systems. Each food has what is called a “Xing,” which is essentially the “temperature” of the item. This temperature refers to the particular food’s overall effect on the dog’s metabolism.

In the West, food is most often described by its contents and ingredients: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. In the East, however, food is described by the effect it has on the body when consumed, particularly the “temperature” of the food. The temperatures of food are hot, warm, neutral, cool, or cold. Chili peppers, for example, are considered hot, heating up our bodies when eaten, while watermelon is considered cooling. You may notice that you prefer to eat rich broth soups in the winter, whereas in the summer, you may find a strong preference for salads. Without knowing it, you have been using the basic principle of Food Therapy for your own health!

Types of food are also classified by their “Flavor.” In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are over five flavors that have distinct actions within the body. These flavors include salty, sour, bitter, sweet, and pungent. For example, the Sour flavor is paralleled with the Wood Phase which focuses on the Liver and Gallbladder. The Bitter flavor is correlated with the Fire Phase, affecting the Heart and Small Intestine. Each flavor has a particular quality, ranging from draining to detoxifying.

Lastly, foods may have a particular action within the body, either directly affecting a meridian or an organ.

Pattern Differentiation/Bian Zheng

The second principle in Food Therapy is one of the most important parts of Traditional Chinese Medicine — Pattern Differentiation/Bian Zheng. This principle distinguishes patterns of disharmony within individual dogs. The patterns of disharmony are numerous, often including theories such as Yin/Yang (cold, hot), Location/Jiao (upper, middle and lower Jiao), Five elements Theory (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood), Eight Principles (yin/yang, hot/cold, interior/exterior, excess/deficiency), and six Pathogenic Factors (wind, cold, damp, heat, summer heat, dryness). When a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine practitioner diagnoses any of the above patterns, the treatment is generally the inverse of the diagnosis, therefore balancing the body and restoring health. These patterns and principles can be quite complicated and would each deserve a blog on their own. For the purpose of this food blog we will not go into great details about each. Here is a simplistic chart of the 5 elements and what is associated with them based on TCM concept.



Food Combinations

Once Food Energetics and Pattern Differentiation have been evaluated, a practitioner will choose a food combination for your dog. Combinations include multiple types of food as well as culinary herbs designed to balance the dog’s physical and physiological imbalances.

Food Properties

— Tonic-type foods

These are best used to strengthen body function, and are particularly helpful for dogs with chronic issues. These foods maintain and improve available energy within the body. Tonic-type foods include beef, chicken, date, fig, ham, lentil, molasses, oats, sweet potato, and squash.

— Blood tonic foods

These types of foods are best used to improve the quality of immediate nourishment for your dog’s body. Blood tonic foods include apricot, beef, bone marrow, chicken egg, dark leafy greens, liver, oyster, nettle, parsley, sardine, and spinach.

— Yin tonic foods

These foods maintain and improve subtle body nourishment, as well as overall soothing of the body with cooling properties. Yin tonic foods include apple, asparagus, cheese, duck, honey, mango, milk, peas, pineapple, pork, rabbit, tofu, and yam.

— Yang tonic foods

These types of foods help to maintain and improve the animal’s ability to generate warmth and stimulate many system functions. Yang tonic foods include basil, cinnamon bark, clove, fennel seed, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, kidney, lamb, rosemary, shrimp, and walnut.

It’s important to remember that food is medicine. Sometimes we rely too much on drugs, supplements, and vitamins, forgetting that food can not only be a supplement to our health, but can also heal us.

If you’re interested in learning more about Food Therapy, consult a Traditional Veterinary Chinese Medicine practitioner in your area. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complex form of medicine and best left to a professional for diagnosis.

I am certified by the Chi Institute as a Chinese Veterinary Food Therapist (CVFT) and you can contact me for a food therapy consult. Please be advised that an initial exam is required to perform a full Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis in order to better assess the TCM pattern that is present in your pet.

Written by Dr Cindy Lizotte, DVM, MBA, CVFT (CHI institute), CVA (IVAS), Grad Dip Vet Western Herb Med (CIVT) Cert CVHM (IVAS)


Ferguson, Bruce. Introduction to Food Therapy in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. Australian Veterinary Association Proceedings. 2008.

The Importance of Dental Exams for pets!

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so let’s talk about the importance of dental health for your pet. Dental exams are very important, yet sometimes are placed on a lesser-priority list than an overall health exam. However, dental health and exams are equally as important. Poor oral health is often a sign of the dog’s overall health and can impact the whole body. Periodontal diseases may cause bacteria and toxins to enter the body with negative effects, while dogs with poor systemic health may have periodontal issues as well.

We usually think of white shiny teeth as an example of a well-balanced and nourished dog. Some dogs with brilliant white “smiles” can have dental disease hidden in and under the gum line. Unfortunately, not all dogs have radiant “smiles.” Many dogs have severe plaque and tartar that accumulates on their teeth, similarly to humans. Plaque is caused by proteins from the saliva that interact with the bacteria naturally found in your dog’s mouth, as well as from bacteria from the environment. If plaque is left for long periods of time, it can multiply and invade the gums, causing inflammation called gingivitis.

For senior dogs and for small dogs, plaque accumulation can develop quickly. Tartar forms when minerals from your dog’s saliva hardens plaque and becomes a ‘crust’. In cases of gingivitis, bacteria that are in your dog’s mouth can cross into the bloodstream. This “showering” of bacteria has been linked to kidney disease and harmful bacterial growth on the valves of the heart. This bacterial growth can change the valve’s function, leading to heart murmurs and even heart failure.

Dental Exams are extremely important in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. It’s recommended that you check your dog’s teeth at least once a month and take your dog for an examination every 6 months to a year. Large dogs are found to have fewer problems with plaque buildup and the consequent gingivitis, however large dogs can sometimes have tooth fractures from the power of their jaws. Small breeds, particularly toy breeds like Yorkshire terriers, are more prone to issues with tartar buildup and gum disease. Frequent examinations of your dog’s oral health are important due to the fact that tooth and gum diseases may start at any time.

What will the veterinarian look for? The vet will start by looking at your dog’s facial structure and the tissues around it. Unusual swellings can be a sign of dental or jaw diseases such as tooth root abscesses. The severity of tartar, plaque and gingivitis will be noted. The enamel will be evaluated and checked for cracks and wear patterns. If your dog has been chewing on too-hard toys or treats, their teeth may be worn down to the interior of the tooth, known as the pulp. Exposed pulp can lead to pain and infection. Certain breeds may have crowded teeth or retained baby teeth that can be sources of infection. Your veterinarian can determine from the exam when the next dental cleaning will be necessary.

There are several contributing factors to dental issues. Genetics play a large role! — the conformation and structure of your dog’s mouth may also cause problems. Some dogs have strong oral chemistry (lysozymes) that helps prevent excess bacterial growth. Saliva plays a very important role in your dog’s dental health but it does not contain the amylase enzyme responsible for the digestion of carbohydrates like in humans. Therefore the starches tend to stick to their teeth causing plaque and tartar build up. This may irritate the gums and dogs are more prone to gingivitis while humans are more prone to cavities from the carbohydrates (sugar). Saliva in a dog may act solely as a lubricant for swallowing and to moisten food before it reaches the stomach. Saliva does not really aid digestion in pets!

Diet is also exceedingly important, although controversial. Many holistic veterinarians believe that the excess amounts of carbohydrates and sugars found in commercial dog foods are to credit for the buildup of plaque and tartar. Some believe, although controversial, that feeding a raw diet, complete with raw meaty bones such as chicken necks and backs, can help to reverse poor dental health and create stronger teeth and gums. Based on my experience, dog that eat bones and cats that hunt mice usually have nicer looking teeth. Although I am still a bit wary of recommending raw bones in pets because of the potential of leading to a bowel obstruction, they need to be considered for proper dental health. This is a pretty good article by a trusted source about feeding raw bones in pets from the Integrative Veterinary Care Journal. There are veterinary prescribed dental diets for pets like Medical Dental, Sc. Diet t/d and Purina DH that may help reduce tartar and maintain dental health in some pets. These types of diets may provide an alternative to some clients. 

There are also some dental toys, gels, water additives and dental treats available on the market that are intended to help keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. Unfortunately, these toys and treats do not work for every individual. For some dogs, these items can be greatly beneficial, while for others, these products either do not help, and may even result in broken teeth, bleeding gums, or intestinal blockages from ingestion. Only products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC.org) have passed minimum required protocols to prove their efficacy. You can find a list of products that have proven the ability to help reduce tartar/plaque in pets at http://vohc.org/accepted_products.htm . Always consult with your veterinarian to see what he or she recommends for your pet. 

Some pets like to eat rawhide and pig ears and they can help mechanically abrade off some tartar but they have been cases of contamination of these treated by salmonella and other pathogenic bacteria. Also, remember that these types of treats are high in fat and not recommended if your pet is overweight.

Getting your dog’s teeth cleaned regularly can help to keep the plaque and tartar in check. Routine periodontal treatments include ultrasonic scaling of plaque and tartar, manual scalingof plaque and tartar, and polishing. Teeth cleanings are performed under anesthesia, so it is typically a stress-free operation for your dog. In the US, it is now standard of care to have dental radiographs performed at the time of cleaning. In Canada, dental radiographs are not offered at every clinics and it may be a few years before we see them being offered everywhere. These radiographs are fast and can expose potentially painful tooth root abscesses and structural problems. If any loose or infected teeth are present, they can be removed painlessly. 

It is important to brush your dog’s teeth daily between professional cleanings. Teaching a puppy to accept having their teeth brushed is usually easy. Some puppies learn to enjoy it. Start slow and introduce them to the idea of having someone touching their teeth and gums. You can even teach your older dog to sit for brushing with a little patience and reward-based training. Be careful to avoid human toothpaste, as some contain foaming agents that can irritate your dog’s stomach, while others contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Only brush your dog’s teeth with enzymatic toothpaste that is specifically made for use in pets.

Even with regular brushing at home, it’s still important to have your dog’s teeth checked even professionally cleaned when needed. Keep in mind that the old proverb that an ounce of prevention is worth pound of cure” is certainly true when it comes to home dental care. Daily brushing and monitoring will keep disease at bay and early treatment can prevent your dog (and wallet) from having to endure extensive dental procedures at the veterinarian.

Written by Dr Cindy Lizotte, DVM, MBA, CVFT (CHI institute), CVA (IVAS), Grad Dip Vet Western Herb Med (CIVT) Cert CVHM (IVAS)