The Ayurvedic practice of medicine seeks to use the wisdom of food and herbs to help balance the mind, body, and spirit. If you practice Ayurveda, you might be surprised to learn that ancient Ayurvedic texts also mention the benefits of the Ayurvedic practice for animals.
In the Ayurvedic text, Rigvata, written somewhere between 2000 and 4000 B.C., Ayurvedic practitioner Salihotra first described the use of Ayurvedic healing practices on animals. Later in 1463 B.C., the first recorded veterinary hospital in the world opened and used knowledge found in the Rigvata to treat animals.
In Ayurveda, all life originates from the same place and is made up of five elements expressed by the doshas vata, pitta, and kapha. You, your family and friends, and even your dog have these elements and doshas because we’re all the same at our core.
Below we’ll look at how you can identify your dog’s dosha, what changes in their life may benefit them, and if there are any herbs or foods that may help to provide them the best life possible.
What Dosha Is Your Dog?
Like humans, dogs have the vata, pitta, and kapha doshas. Also like humans, only one is dominant. The dominant determines the positive and negative characteristics of the individual. To bring out the positive traits, you simply need to make changes in your dog’s lifestyle and diet that aligns with the needs of their dosha, as we’ll discuss below.
Vata – The Leader
Vatas are dominant. At their best they are lively and fun, but at their worst they will take over the house and leave it in ruins.
Vata dogs have a slender body and are taller or shorter than the average height of the same breed. They are sensitive to cold weather and require extra care for their skin, nails, and fur. They also have irregular eating habits and may suffer from unpredictable digestive habits, resulting in more frequent, smaller bowel movements and urination.
They are also strong willed, often with quick bursts of energy that give way to calm. Also smart, they learn new tricks and habits quickly, but without regular practice they will forget. When out of balance their mood becomes unpredictable. One moment they are full of joy and enthusiasm, but the next instant they are destroying the home, barking at you, or challenging your authority.
If you want only good things from your vata pooch, make sure they receive these:
- Keep their food bowel stocked with warm, moist food like beef and pureed root vegetables.
- A warm home is nice; a heated bed is better.
- They crave attention, so when they experience a burst of energy be ready to play.
- Overstimulation, especially before leaving them home alone, can spell trouble.
- Don’t stress them out by changing up their daily habits.
Examples of vata dogs include Greyhounds, Dalmatian, Poodles, some Terrier breeds.
Pitta – The Brains
Pittas are intelligent. At their best they will effortlessly learn new tricks and will follow complex commands without much instruction, but at their worst they become aggressive and demanding.
Pitta dogs have medium to slender builds with a delicate frame; also less prominent bones and a medium amount of strength. Look for fur that is soft and warm, nails that are round, and an aversion to hot weather. They are prone to overheating and require a lot of water and food to recover.
Everyone will comment on the pitta’s ability to concentrate and solve problems. But owners will warn that the pitta is almost too smart. When out of balance, the pitta will outsmart owners to get what they want, like sneaking treats, hiding shoes, or even claiming ownership of parts of the house.
If you want only good things from your pitta pooch, make sure they receive these:
- Provide cold food (duck, chicken, cottage cheese, tofu) and a cool wood or tile floor to rest when it’s hot outside.
- Buy an inflatable kiddie pool for them to play in during the summer, give them a chance to run around in the snow, and be patient if they refuse to come inside during a rainstorm.
- Make games mentally stimulating – don’t throw them a tennis ball; instead, scent it and then hide it somewhere for them to find.
- Too much thinking can make them moody, so practice meditative time by keeping a quiet hour for a few hours.
Examples of pitta dogs include German Shepherd, Doberman, and Rottweiler.
Kapha – The Healer
Kaphas would prefer the couch to a long hike up a steep trail. Sound like a perfect match? Busy families that don’t have a lot of time for activities after work or school will appreciate that the kapha doesn’t bore easily.
Kapha dogs are heavier and have less strength, but don’t confuse them for weak. They are sturdy, both physically and emotionally. They have soft fur and eyes, a gentle personality, and a slow moving digestive system. Be careful to monitor their eating habits because they might not touch their food bowl all day or require an emergency outdoor bathroom break.
Although appearing dumb and lazy, they are not a pooch to underestimate. They remember everything, are non-judgemental, reliable, and may outlive your wildest expectations while maintaining excellent health. When out of balance, they become anxious and fear separation, they become greedy, they may develop respiratory problems, and their weight may finally become a problem.
If you want only good things from your pitta pooch, make sure they receive these:
- Keep food light with a lot of protein and lean fat, and fresh carrots, squash, and pumpkin.
- Limit time spent outdoors in cold weather and rain.
- Crates, corner beds, pillows, and blankets provide them a sense of security and comfort when you aren’t around.
- Encourage exercise each day, even if they have no desire to move.
- Lots and lots of cuddling.
Examples of kapha dogs include St. Bernard, Basset Hound, Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Herbs For Pets
Herbs play a vital role in Ayurvedic practices and they are an item you may consider adding to their daily diet. Some of the popular herbs that are given to dogs include ginger for vata dogs, cumin or coriander for pitta dogs, and turmeric for kapha dogs.
Ashwagandha may also be ideal for any dog that needs to relax when there is a storm outside, fireworks, or you have people over. With these herbs, only a little is required; 60 pound dogs should only receive ⅛ of a teaspoon of any herb. Make the dose even less for smaller dogs.
There are no restrictions for which herb you can give to your dog, but be careful when giving them an herb for the first time because their body may not agree with the plant or spice. Also, if it brings out a negative behavior, you may want to try something else.
Other herbs that may support their body include:
- Aloe vera
- Barberry root
- Chinese rhubarb
- Dandelion root
- Licorice root
You may also want to try triphala, which is a combination of the fruit haritaki, bibhitaki, and amalaki. Triphala is said to support the pursuit of Rasayana, a word that means “path of essence” in the Sanskrit language. Rasayana is key to helping support healthy aging, vitality, brain function, healthy-looking skin, and immune system health.
Better still, triphala contains vitamins and antioxidants that may support the hundreds of biological processes in the body. Triphala is also said to aid in balancing the doshas, and thus may help to encourage more of our good characteristics.
Herbal Support from Pet Wellbeing
If you are looking to help balance your dog’s dosha, then you want to introduce them to the Pet Wellbeing brand. The brand specializes in offering pet owners an alternative choice to more traditional Western medicines. Using only natural ingredients, the brand’s formulas may provide optimal support for your pet’s health needs.
If you’re looking for a supplement with triphala, Pet Wellbeing has you covered. Check out, GI CleanUp Gold, Smooth BM Gold, or Hairball Gold, which are carefully formulated to help provide balance and comfort in their body.
Now that you know a little more about Ayurvedic medicine and what it means for your dog, you can start to think about the different ways you can provide your pooch a better life. Ayurveda is a very big subject, so this article couldn’t cover everything. But now you have a starting point to figure out your dog’s dominant dosha, make changes to their environment and diet, and may use herbs to help bring out their good side!