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How Does Spring Affect Pets? - A TCVM Perspective

By Emari Yokota, DVM, CVA, ACVCHM

Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist and Herbalist

Spring has sprung! The flowers are blooming, the rain is coming down, the wind is picking up. What does this mean for our pets?

Spring ushers in a time of major transition. The ambient humidity increases greatly as we welcome the April showers needed to bring about our beautiful May flowers. This also invites lovely pollen and other allergens into the mix. The shifting temperatures create shifts in the barometric pressures causing high winds and storms. But why does this matter?

Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors have largely regarded seasonal transitions to be a tough time on humans and animals alike. Mammalian bodies are made to be able to control the environment on inside while adapting to the environment on the outside, but this comes at a cost as it puts on added stressors on our systems. What happens when we are not in tip top shape? When your body is out of balance, you are not able adjust as well to the changes outside and we are more prone to developing a disease. Gradual changes allow us to cope more easily, but abrupt changes are much more taxing to our bodies. Changes like this are even challenging to bodies at the top of their game let alone those with underlying body imbalances.

So how does Spring affect the body? Well, we just talked about major switches in the temperature. Just like us, our pets are affected by the weather. Have you noticed you pet does better at certain temperature ranges outside? Just like us, dogs and cats, can be “cold-blooded” or “hot-blooded”, meaning they prefer or do much better in a specific temperature rage. In Chinese medicine, this could be a sign their body is out of balance. Worsening symptoms during specific weather can clue us into imbalances such as feeling sore and sluggish on cold rainy days.

Diseases that may be more prevalent in the Spring include:

· Allergies

· Eye issues

· Headaches

· Seizures

· Short-temper and stress/agitation

· Strains and sprains

· Stress-related bowel conditions

· Upper respiratory infections

· Vertigo/Vestibular Disease


How do you help your pet get through this transition?

Gradually introduce your pet to the change in the weather – try to limit the time outside when the weather is extreme. If there is a unseasonably hot day after many cold days, take it easy on them on their walk as they may not be ready to take on the heat so suddenly. Just like us, they do better when the temperature changes are gradual. Our body needs time to adjust to warming temperatures. Try to keep your home free of drafts. If your dog wears a sweater outside, keep it on a little longer on those blustery days. Bandanas and sweaters are great as they protect the base of the neck – where the Chinese believe many diseases like to enter. Understand that the body is more likely to succumb to disease when stressed emotionally and physically. Light to moderate regular exercise is still extremely important to health. Leisurely walks or light play is vital for good circulation and energy flow. It helps release internal stress and improves tendons and ligament flexibility.

Acupuncture and certain herbal therapies can be helpful bringing a body back into balance and improving energy flow. If your pet is having any issues regarding the above-mentioned issues, these therapies may be helpful in improving their care. Even if your pet may not be actively sick, their body can still be out of balance making it easier for them to get sick as the seasons change.

About the Author:

Dr. Yokota has been practicing in the Northern Virginia area for over 7 years. Her veterinary service, Well Whiskers, currently provides at home and in office holistic care to her patients.

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