The wellbeing of our dog or companion animal is often a direct reflection of our own wellbeing.
Natural healing practices and lifestyle can make all the difference to our human body, mind and spirit, so why would our dogs be any different? With easy steps and a little effort we can promote a positive shift in our pet’s physical and mental health.
The healing principles of Ayurveda, one of the predominant mind-body healing sciences of the East, can be utilized to understand people—and four-legged creatures—from a more integrated and holistic perspective. Ayurveda teaches that each being is a unique individual.
Just as we educate and empower ourselves when it comes to self-care, let’s remember to include our companion animals in our circle of influence. We should see our dogs as the dynamic and multi-dimensional beings they are in order to support their health.
The Ayurvedic approach provides various methods to nourish and restore balance through the five senses – taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. All information received by body and mind (for two or four-legged beings) is channeled through these five gateways and integrated into the system. With this in mind, choices can be made to favor what nourishes while reducing what exaggerates imbalance, so equilibrium can be restored naturally and holistically.
For instance, when we listen to calming, grounding music, it encourages us to feel calmer and more grounded. When we listen to salsa music, we feel more passionate. When we listen to rock, we wanna rock! Our sense of hearing triggers a certain mind/body response.
Applying Ayurveda to Dogs
Dogs may not necessarily salsa dance (although I’ve seen a few questionable YouTube videos) but they do feel more energetic when they hear stimulating music. They’re calmed by earthy tones and soothed by cooling aromas. Their bodies function optimally when fed high-quality food and they may suffer on a diet of processed meals. Their behavior is improved and training becomes easier when they are better understood. Just like us, their entire life can be transformed by adjusting their environmental influences.
Ayurveda describes imbalance as a disturbance, often an elevated state, of one’s dosha (mindbody type). Simply said, a dog’s body and mind can go out of balance in some of these ways:
- Too airy/light/dry: Vata dosha imbalanced
- Too hot/intense/moist: Pitta dosha imbalanced
- Too heavy/slow/inert: Kapha dosha imbalanced
Tips to Promote Balance for Dog’s Doshas
Balance the Vata dosha
- Favor warm, moist food.
- Add pureed seasonal vegetables lightly cooked in sesame oil to food.
- Doggie massage. (Deep, audible breathing for extra relaxation for both!)
- Calm, grounded communication from human companion.
Balance the Pitta dosha
- Favor cooling foods such as apple (no seeds), yoghurt (unsweetened), cucumber, banana.
- Coconut oil (eaten or topically; daily recommendation is up to 1 teaspoon of oil per 10 pound of dog).
- Swimming and other cooling activities.
- Non-aggressive, mentally stimulating play.
Balance the Kapha dosha
- Green leafy and other fresh vegetables, pureed.
- Regular, daily, vigorous exercise.
- Bright, invigorating colors and patterns of collar, name tag, bedding, et cetera.
- Use only natural, healthy treats.
Make any changes—even positive ones—slowly and gradually. Be consistent. When facing a behavioral or physical challenge with your dog, ask yourself if you can identify a human version of this symptom anywhere in YOUR life. Our dogs are often our mirrors.
With some extra attention and care, their overall wellbeing and behavior can be enhanced, and their unique personality will shine!
The information written here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or behavioral advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Veterinarian or other qualified animal healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or behavioral condition that your pet may suffer from.
Amanda Ringnalda is the founder of SoulPlayMates, an education, dog rescue, and advocacy nonprofit. She is also a Certified Vedic Educator and the Vice President of client services at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing at the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, California. Amanda teaches workshops on Ayurveda for Dogs including upcoming workshops on Doshas for Dogs at the Chopra Center on March 12 and April 30. soulplaymates.org.