How to help our elderly animal companions with the seasonal change to spring
Often times we think of fall with the dark coming and winter with it’s cold short days as the most difficult but coming out of the dark into spring is also a large time of transition and when I unfortunately loss many of the older animals I work with.
I think part of it is that spring is a time of rebirth. Many new animals come into the world, flowers spring out of the earth and the winds bring change into our lives. The other side of this is that many animals who are near the end of their lives choose the transition of spring to do it in. Whenever there are new beginning their are also endings.
From a practical standpoint I think the ups and downs of weather in the spring as particularly hard on our older friends. It is warm one day, freezing the next, dry than wet and the wind can come in and weaken those who are already vulnerable.
From a Chinese medicine standpoint, our bodies change with the seasons. In the winter we hold more blood in our core, preserving our warmth in our organs. In the summer we send more blood out to the extremities which can cause the inner body to be more deficient. In spring we began that process of pumping more blood out. In yin and yang terms we externalize our yang and if we don’t have enough yin to hold to the yang in our bodies it can cause behavior changes such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, organ failures or if yang is not held at all death (the ultimate separation of yin and yang).
So what can we do to help?
- Consider putting a coat on your older dog when you take them outside, especially one that covers the neck area. The Chinese say that external pathogens can easily get into a body which is already weak and that they come in through the neck.
- Consider adding some of the tonic foods to your animal’s diet. Bone marrow or a broth made with marrow bones is awesome. Make sure your animal is getting enough protein i.e. meat. Shiitake mushrooms or a mushroom supplement such as Host Defense My Community can be helpful. Tender spring bitter greens such as spinach or dandelions help to keep blood moving well.
- In the older ones consider using infrared light therapy. See Infrared Light Therapy for dogs and cats.
- If you are in an area where acupuncture is an option it can be helpful with some of the issues of transition.
- In older dogs the formula Xiao Chai Hu Tang can be helpful to balance yin and yang and to help with times of transition. Do not use this formula if you have a dog in kidney failure without the direction of a veterinarian.In younger or middle aged dogs consider this Spring Detox Formula.
- Help your older cat and dog to get some exercise. Exercise is one of the best ways to help with brain function and to help keep blood moving well.
- Love them every moment. All of us will pass at some point in time. Unfortunately our dogs and cats live shorter lives than us. Sometimes no matter what we do they are ready to move on and all we can give them is our full love and acceptance.