HomeAcupuncture and Traditional Chinese Veterinary MedicineFive Elements- what constitution are you and your pet?

The ancient Chinese were very observant of the natural world and codified these observations into the theory of the Five Elements during the Zhou Dynasties (1046 B.C.E to 221 B.C.E.).  Everything in the universe can be divided into five categories based on shared characteristics.  This later became one of the foundations of traditional Chinese medical practice.  Together with the Yin-Yang theory, the Five Elements theory helps the practitioner form a diagnosis and treatment plan (for animals too!).

One aspect of the Five Elements theory relates to your pet’s constitution.  We are all born with a predominant personality type (I happen to be an Earth constitution, for good or for bad!)  As I am learning TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine), I have enjoyed identifying the constitutions of all my family members, four-legged and two-legged.  I thought some of you might have fun with it as well.

The Five Elements include Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.  We all have some characteristics of all of the elements at some point in our lives, but do you see a predominance of traits of one element in either yourself or your pet?  These are the characteristics:

Wood:  An individual with a wood constitution has a pioneer spirit and leads the way like a general.  Wood types tend to be dominant, aggressive, competitive, confident, fearless, and intolerant.  They are very alert and respond quickly to stimuli.  When they become imbalanced they are prone to irritability and anger, tendon and ligament injuries, environmental stress, and Liver-related issues (which has a broader scope of meaning in TCVM than in Western Medicine)

27196_112944392068511_112826735413610_162207_2989977_nSome of my patients are trickier to categorize, but Buddy is easy!

Woody Wood Wood!





Fire: These individuals are like good Emperors, very persuasive and skilled at inspiring others.  They are very social and enjoy being the center of attention.  They are extroverted, easily excited, friendly, and playful.  They thrive on attention and physical contact.  On the negative side they can be difficult to calm down, overly sensitive, and a bit noisy and talkative.  They tend to have strong bodies and small heads.  When imbalanced they can become hyperactive and high strung,or  develop behavioral problems or Heart-related issues.

27196_112867038742913_112826735413610_161923_6553716_nYup!  My one and only, Zoe!

A real Firecracker!






Earth: Think “Earth Mother.”  These types are good hosts who like to take care of others.  We tend to be laid back and easy going, friendly, sweet, and easily satisfied.  We are very trusting (not always a good thing), humble, kind and tolerant.  Physically we are often short and sturdy.  When imbalanced we are prone to worry, digestive issues, and obesity.

30085_117775531585397_112826735413610_181528_3568698_nGinger!  AKA my “walking pillow”.  She is very good to kiss, and we always remind her that she is the nicest one in our family.  Her theme song is “Ginger-the-Friendly-Cat” to the tune of Casper-the-Friendly-Ghost.

Anyway, she’s the real poster child for Earth!





Metal: Metal types have foresight and sagacity.  They are broad-minded, organizers. and leaders in a group (sort of like a good Prime Minister).  They like rules and order.  People who are Metal types hate it when things don’t go according to plan.  These individuals are independent, aloof, ordered, organized, quiet, confident, and consistent. They tend to have broad foreheads and excellent hair coats.  Many herding dogs are Metal constitutions (Border Collies for example).  When imbalanced they are prone to excessive sadness or grief.  They are also susceptible to respiratory issues.

GetInlineThis is my niece, Boo.  She is a perfect example of a Metal type dog.  Soon to be featured as Pet-of-the-Month (nepotism, I know).







Water: Water types are philosophers and observers.  They prefer to hang back and case the situation.  They are deep thinkers and skillful planners.  They tend to be fearful, but would much rather run and hide than bite or scratch.  They are quiet, often timid, introverted, shy, solitary, and hesitant.  Physically they thin and often have black hair on the head, with deep, big eyes and ears.  When imbalanced they are prone to kidney or bladder problems, arthritis, infertility, or emotional withdrawal.

31600_118976278131989_112826735413610_186274_6130938_nMy clever Gibby!  Often found carting his toys around looking for one of us to play, he has my poor husband wrapped around his mittens.

If there is a stranger near he’s a lump under the comforter, though!

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