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Food energetics and rotational feeding: A quick guide for canines

February 16, 2022

As you practice rotational feeding, you’re probably focused on making sure your dog is getting a full slate of animal proteins. You might serve a chicken recipe one day (or week, depending on how many bags of food you like to rotate at a time), and a salmon recipe the next. But if your dog is feeling hot or chilly, you can also use the theories of food energetics as a guide to see if that provides some relief.

Check out: Want to try rotational feeding for your dog? Here’s how to get started

What’s food energetics? It’s a theory where specific foods have different effects on the body, like warming, cooling, or neutralizing.

  • If you’re overheated, try the foods that create cooling effects.
  • Are you a “cold hands, warm heart” type? Eat foods that stoke warming energies.

The origin of food energetics is rooted in traditional Chinese medicine. Many pet parents swear by its effectiveness, as do holistic vets.

If you take your dog to a holistic vet, they might recommend feeding your dog warming or cooling meats as part of the strategy to offer relief from various ailments (for example, cooling foods to help control inflammation).

This quick guide will familiarize you with how food energetics work and how to get started.

Right foods, right climate for a happier pet

Dogs with “hot” energy

Does your dog run hot? Hot could be your dog’s natural energy — much like that one guy we all know who wears shorts in sub-zero weather.

However, external factors, such as a heatwave, can also create similar overheated effects on your pup. Here are some of the signs of a hot energy dog:

  • Seeker of coolness. He’s never met a tile floor he won’t lie on. The elevated bed and the AC vent are his best friends. Ice cubes are always an exciting handout.
  • Excessive panting. Even when he hasn’t been exercising or moving.

Another physical sign of “hot” energy is hot spots on your dog’s body.

Hot spots are a skin condition that can show up during a bout of hot weather and are common in dogs living in warmer climates. They appear as raised bumps on the skin that look like insect bites or a rash, sometimes accompanied by hair loss. Hot spots are itchy, inflamed and irritating, which is why they’re often interpreted as an allergic reaction. There are many causes of hot spots, but they usually flare up in hot weather.

How do cooling foods help?

As you’re trying to bring relief to your furry friend, their diet is another thing to consider, especially how specific ingredients might be interacting with the body. Some pet parents find cooler proteins — and taking a break from the standard chicken and rice dog food formula — start yielding positive change. The theory is cooling foods have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

As you practice rotational feeding, layer in the food energetics approach to see if you find any positive changes in your pet.

Check out: Rotational feeding for canines: Which proteins and carbs should I choose … and avoid?

Cooling meats

  • Duck
  • Rabbit

Dogs with “cold” energy

Does your dog need help to generate extra heat? Here are three possible reasons why:

  • Your pet’s natural body temperature may run a little cooler. You know that friend… (wrap this bullet better)You know that friend who’s always complaining of cold hands and feet? Happens to dogs, too.
  • Senior dogs can feel chilled more easily as part of the natural aging process and can use extra help internally (diet) and externally (wearing a sweater).
  • The weather outside is colder than normal. When you feel like pulling on a sweater and down jacket, your dog may also crave some extra warmth.

Signs that your dog’s energy is running cold:

  • Ears are cool to the touch, rather than radiating body heat.
  • Lying down in a circle position, nose and tail tucked to preserve it’s warmth.
  • Seeks and snuggles up to heat sources, like their favorite humans, heat vents, and other pets.

With these indicators in play, seek warming ingredients.

What are warming and hot meats?

Under the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, certain meats are thought to create warming energies in the body upon digestion. If your pup is struggling to stay warm, whether it’s because of internal or external factors, try focusing on these animal proteins, and note any changes.

Warming meats

  • Chicken
  • Pheasant
  • Turkey

Hot meats

  • Lamb
  • Venison

Other foods to help your dog achieve comfort and balance

When it comes to food energetics, warming meats and cooling meats are not the only considerations. Sources of carbohydrates are also part of the theory.

But first, let’s talk about neutral meats.

Neutral meats

Neutral meats are neither warming nor cooling. If you’d like to balance the effects of any warming and cooling meats, look for formulas that include these animal proteins.

  • Beef
  • Bison
  • Pork
  • Quail
  • Salmon


Carbohydrates are a part of a healthy dog’s diet, providing essential nutrients and energy. If you’re giving traditional Chinese medicine theory a try, here’s what you need to know about carbohydrates.

Warming carbs

Whole grains are warming foods, including:

  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal

Remember when we mentioned chicken and rice formulas? These are highly digestible foods for dogs, which is why they’re the go-to for many pet parents. Now you know both mainstays are considered warming foods and could contribute to inflammation and itchy skin.

If you live in a hot climate, pairing a cooling meat with a cooling carb can be part of your strategy for keeping your dog comfortable.

Check out: Is it allergies, ingredient intolerance, or yeast? Can rotational diet help?

Cooling carbs

Grain-free formulas tend to provide cooling carbs, such as:

  • Peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Lentils

Reach for the brand that focuses on gut health

Taking a food energetics approach to your pet’s diet is a great option for rotational feeding, especially at those times when you want to curb inflammation in your pet. But don’t stop there. Building a colony of good bacteria in the gut is another strategy to fight whole-body inflammation. That’s why at family-owned NutriSource, we formulate all our foods with probiotics and prebiotics.

Learn more about how our innovative Good 4 Life system cultivates health in the gut and beyond.

Shop local and find NutriSource at your local, independent pet retailer.