The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda encourages us to create internal harmony by synching with the rhythms of nature. What happens in our environment impacts us both mentally and physically, because we are a part of nature, not separate from it. The seasonal change has an influence on us too, just as it does the trees, plants, weather patterns, planetary alignment and more. By adjusting our foods and diet to the season, we naturally align our internal system with the shift in our surroundings.
There are three Ayurvedic seasons that correlate with each dosha or body/mind type. Think of their meeting points as a quarterly reminder to start modifying your pup’s lifestyle to suit the upcoming changes. The season of Kapha (Earth Dog) runs from the coldest, darkest part of winter into spring. Pitta (Fire Dog) is the hottest time of year from late spring to early fall. And we are now embarking upon the time of Vata (Air Dog) that goes from late fall into early winter.
As we move into the Air dog’s season (Vata), the air itself becomes cool and dry. Much like the dry leaves that fly around in the increased wind of Fall, our dogs’ bodily systems, no matter what their body/mind constitution, become lighter, drier and cooler. In order to counteract and balance these changes, the bulk of their diet needs to be warm, moist and oily because it will help ground them through the lightness of the next few months.
A few of my top choices for this season’s balancing vegetables are:
These are enticing foods to eat this time of year because of their warm and earthly qualities and are also incredibly valuable to a dog’s health. A favorite holistic vet, Dr. Karen Becker explains that adequate amounts of low-glycemic, fibrous vegetables like these do more than add calories to a dog’s diet. They also provide prebiotic fibers that are necessary to nourish your dog's microbiome and contribute to their overall gut and colon health.
Yes, dogs can eat vegetables, and a diet that includes these nutritious fibrous foods can help keep a dog regular, lower their cholesterol levels and maintain their weight – in the same way that it does for us. Plus, they provide a range of nutrients, are a good source of hydration, and even help alkalize the body. All five of these vegetables are beneficial for Vata/Air dogs, because it is their time of year, and what will balance the season, will also restore the season’s dog with the same natural qualities.
Squash and pumpkin are in the same family. They are very rich in vitamins, minerals and potassium, but it’s their high levels of vitamin C that make them ideal immune system supporters. They’re both naturally sweet and grounding.
Brussel sprouts are little cruciferous vegetables that contain a lot of nutrition. They are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, some B vitamins and folate, and they provide more protein than you might expect.
The eggplant is low in calories and has essential nutrients like iron, calcium and potassium that your pup needs.
Sweet potatoes are another excellent source of vitamin C, and they also come with vitamin A and potassium.
The five vegetables mentioned above are yummy, healthy and vet approved! Go ahead and load up on these colorful, in-season treats, but remember that we are at the Pitta/Vata (Fire/Air) juncture. This is not the time to feed them to your dog raw and cold. Cooking a vegetable too long can break down its fiber content, which is a necessary component in the digestion process. But we do want to warm our pup’s food to balance the coolness and dryness of the season. Just be sure to lightly cook the food to maintain its nutritional value. Pureed raw vegetables are also a great option, as that will leave the fiber intact while breaking the casing to provide the most nutrients.
If you really want to be a great dog chef, you could add in a few warming herbs. Try a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg for a bit more flavor. You should know however, that cinnamon is an appetite stimulant, so if your dog is working to losing a few pounds, it’s probably a good idea to skip this one.
Each change of season is an opportunity to maintain or improve the health and wellbeing of our dogs. If you practice nourishment by adjusting or modifying their diets to the fluctuations of the climate, you’ll keep your dog balanced and happy all year long. For an extra boost, you could even add a mild doggy detox. But always try to align yourself and your pup with the current season, because when we do, our bodies naturally give us what we need – homeostasis or an optimum state of balanced wellbeing – aka Sama.
by Amanda Ree
Apply the science of Ayurveda and natural healing to help your dog’s unique circumstances. In a one-hour session with me, you’ll come away with multiple specific steps to take in order to understand what’s really going on with your dog, and how to bring them back to balance again. More about dog wellbeing consultations here.
[Photograph by Ben Hanson]