This is the last in a series of articles that we have published throughout the year to explore the nature of the different seasons from a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) point of view. We hope that with a better understanding of how the different times of year affect our pets’ health we can provide special consideration for their specific needs.

Once again, as we shift from one season to the next, we notice a distinct change in our external environment. As it becomes colder, damper, and less inviting outside, we and our pets find ourselves naturally slowing down, resting and trying to stay warm. It is the time of year to store energy in preparation for the new growth and regeneration that comes in the springtime.

In the Five Phase Theory of Chinese Medicine, Winter is represented by Water and the associated organs of the kidneys, adrenal glands, bladder and bones. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are the source of all energy, vitality, and heat in the body. The kidneys store the energy needed to help us adapt to stress, heal from injury, prevent illness and to age gracefully. The coldness of winter can deplete these resources if we are not careful to maintain them.

Symptoms associated with kidney Qi deficiency may include:

• Worsening of arthritic pain
• Weakness of the hind legs
• Weakening of bladder control

Treatment strategies that may help prevent or treat some of these conditions include:

• Acupuncture, especially with the application of Moxibustion, in which acupuncture points are warmed by the burning of a dried Chinese herb called Moxa, in order to invigorate the Qi and dispel Cold and Dampness.
• The use of warming Chinese herbs, which may be especially helpful for our aging pets who are already experiencing a depletion of their energy stores.
• Daily, moderate exercise. Avoid extremes in activity. Short walks every day is much better at maintaining good circulation to your pet’s joints, muscles and tendons, then a single long hike on the weekend.
• Stay warm!

We are about to come full circle in the transformation from Yin to Yang, then back to Yin again. Our awareness of the natural cycle of the season’s effect on our pet’s health allow us to maximize their ability to restore balance naturally. It is a way of living in harmony with nature, regardless of how removed from nature we feel in our technologically advanced lifestyles.