FUNCTIONS OF THE TRIDOSHA
Vata = Ether + Air
Pitta = Fire + Water
Kapha = Water + Earth
At the time of fertilization, permutations of Vata, Pitta and Kapha determine the constitution of any living being. These three metabolic forces control all biological, psychological, and physiopathological functions of the body, mind, and consciousness and have subtle properties. These forces determine personality traits, and physiological structure, with the influence of gender and other important factors such as diet, lifestyle, behavior, emotions, seasons, and so on.
The unique individual constitution produces natural urges and individual tastes in food, flavor and temperature. The doshas govern the maintenance and destruction of bodily tissue and the elimination of waste products. They are also responsible for psychological phenomena, including emotions of fear, anger, and greed as well as the highest order of emotions: understanding, compassion, and love.
A balance of the dosha is necessary for optimal health. The doshas increase by similar properties and are diminished by the opposite ones. For example, Vata is dry, light, and cold; so any food, medicine, or behavior that increases these qualities will increase Vata within the body. Conversely, oily, heavy, or hot factors will decrease Vata.
Together, the doshas govern all metabolic activities; anabolism (Kapha), catabolism (Vata), and metabolism (Pitta). There can be up to ten different constitutions, depending upon the permutation and combination of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The combination of the three humors remains unchanged throughout a pet’s lifetime but can respond to environmental changes such as diet and lifestyle, thereby providing the opportunity for the pet to maintain health or compromise it.
Diet By Dosha
In Ayurveda, food is medicine and medicine is food, and it is important to consider the right ingredients, proportions, freshness and seasonality, promoting balance with foods that counter or diminish the excess dosha. If you choose to change your pets’ diets, please do so in increments, taking about three weeks to switch them over to a more wholesome alternative.
In addition to the pet’s dosha, keep in consideration whether the animal is a larger or smaller breed, active or a couch potato. Below are a few specific food recommendations based on either vata, pitta or kapha canines.
Vata (e.g. Greyhound dog) – Vata dogs run cool and dry and should avoid beans, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, and potatoes. Feed them warming foods such as beef, along with washed and pureed carrots and squashes although they can be quickly blanched then pureed for enhanced digestion.
Avoid ghee as it is hard for animals to digest and can lead to pancreatitis. (Use fish oil instead.) For pets experiencing digestive issues, they can be fed the Ayurvedic dish “kitcheree” made with white basmati rice and mung beans. Spices can include black pepper, cumin and coriander, with a slight bit of hing for Vata dogs.
Pitta (e.g. Pitbull) – As Pitta dogs tend to run warm, avoid foods that provoke warmth. They do well with cooling foods including meats such as duck, and chicken breasts; dairy products such as cottage cheese, and even tofu. Fresh pureed veggies such as leafy greens are beneficial as well.
Kapha (e.g. overweight Golden Retriever) – For the heavy-set Kapha pet, the diet should contain more wholesome foods such as fresh veggies. Avoid starch, grains and fat, and additives such as molasses and corn syrup. Veggies should include carrots, squash and pumpkin and should always be washed, raw and pureed.
The most common herbs and spices for pets include turmeric, cumin and coriander powders for balancing digestion. Try dried or fresh ginger for Vata pets, cumin and coriander for Pitta, and turmeric for Kapha. Take care not to be overindulge, as a 60 lb. dog only needs 1/8 of a teaspoon of any given herb.
For hyperactive dogs, ashwagandha has a calming effect (also a wonderful herb for humans!) These types of dogs also need to keep active. Some types of dogs are considered working dogs by breed (i.e. cattle dogs) and need to have a “job” that keeps them involved and moving.
Just remember most Ayurvedic principles that can apply to humans also apply to your pets. Provide them with an environment and nutrition that balances their doshas and they are sure to become a harmonious member of your family, contributing their unique gifts that express their dosha in its most beneficial form.
Dr. Tejinder Sodhi graduated from the College of Veterinary Science in Punjab, India in 1983. Dr. Sodhi came to the United States in 1985, where he did his ECFVG certification with the American Veterinary Association and opened his own clinic in Lynnwood, Washington, The Animal Wellness Center with clients coming to him from throughout Washington State and even from the East coast of the United States and Canada. In 1996, Dr. Sodhi opened his second location in Bellevue, WA. Dr. Sodhi is also president of the first ever chapter of Holistic Veterinarians in the state of Washington. As president, he works to promote Holistic care in the field