This question is popping up as more and more dog parents get interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM or TCVM) food energetics. And the answer is that when it comes to turkey as a protein for your dog, it’s cooling or neutral.
Why Are Their Discrepancies?
The information you find online is widely oversimplified and doesn’t often quote their source. Most online articles are just copies or rewrites of another.
To answer this fully we have to step back and understand the role of history in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
The history of TCM goes back 5,000 years. Back then, references to it were found in archeological pieces like tortoise shells.
We also have to understand who was in power. During the history of China different dynasties were in the rule. And when one dynasty took over, they burned all the books.
Whoever was in charge controlled the way of thinking or the narrative.
TCM roots were shamanistic. But then in the Qin Dynasty, shamanism was of less importance and it was more about medicine.
Officially TCM is 2,000 years old.
History starts when you have a common language.
When language in China became universal during the Han Dynasty – then that’s when the books/texts started to emerge and TCM was codified into texts.
Throughout history, the importance of Chinese Medicine would change. Sometimes, acupuncturists were more esteemed, sometimes, it was the herbalists.
The energy on food wasn’t always widely shared as this was only available to the wealthy.
Also, the practice and beliefs of TCM vary from region to region. Even country to country. The Koreans have their own system that branched off and so did the Japanese. There’s Classical TCM and there is modern-day TCM.
To dig deep – references to food energetics should also indicate sources of information – which dynasty or modern times, which texts etc.
Variations will surface because farming was different and so that is where the interpretation of energetics will vary slightly. Some will never change.
TCM was originally for humans. Then it was for horses (warring lords had to keep the horses for the army healthy) and then more recently, they have learned more about TCM for pets.
So Let’s Look At Turkey
Turkey is a traditional food that goes back 3,000 years. It’s mostly a land, ground-feeding bird. They cannot fly for long distances and often just do so in short spurts.
Factory-farmed turkeys are similar to factory-farmed chickens. When they are nervous they scratch themselves. They are easily frightened (more than chickens) and labelled as not being the sharpest tools in the shed.
When turkeys get scared, they tend to pile (stack themselves on top of each other).
Factory-farmed turkeys depend on their caretakers for food. Often they live in tight spaces and have to walk over their own excrement. They also develop neurotic, cannibalistic and aggressive behaviors.
Those that know turkeys will say that they are emotional intelligent animals and it is only because of the severe factory farming conditions that are stressful that have caused factory farmers to call them stupid.
Free-range turkeys on the other hand are independent and can take care of themselves. They are powerful birds that can forage for almost half of their food needs.
The energy of a factory-farmed turkey will be different from that of a free-range turkey.
Personally, I’d posit that free-range turkeys will be more cooling. And those from good farms are neutral while those with their beaks cut off might be so stressed out they could even be classified as warming.
So What Should You Categorize Turkey As?
While I mention that there might be nuances to the energy of turkey depending on where you get it and how they lived, we still need a standard way of looking at their energy.
Based on modern-day food energy charts for dogs from Chi University, Turkey is categorized as cooling/neutral food.
Remember that the goal is to look at food as a WHOLE and individualize it for the dog.
A dog that has anxiety and runs warm can benefit from turkey as protein. Not only is it cooling or neutral it is calming, too (tryptophan).
And even though a dog has allergies, if they cold, you want to feed a warming protein instead.
Interested in Diving Deeper?
If you are a vet, or in the veterinary profession, or a vet student, you can go to Chi University.
The path is to be a vet first and complete that education and then go to school for six months to learn TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine)
If you’re in need of a TCVM vet that is available via phone consultations:
I trust Dr. Thomas, and his information is below.
Holistic Health Care for Pets
1707 E. 11th Ave, Spokane WA 99202
If you would like to contact him via email: DrThomasHolisticvet@yahoo.com
I use him for my own dogs, and refer clients to him when a TCVM vet isn’t available in your city.
In my case I’ve decided to pursue learning about TCM for humans.
As a student at the Pacific College of Health and Science where I’m studying to be a Dr. of Acupuncture, TCM, and Herbalism. It’s a four-year full-time path or, in my case, part-time eight years. Studies will be one-third bio-medicine (integrative medicine), one-third TCM, and one-third clinical.
Today TCM is recognized by hospitals that are even adding Acupuncturists and Herbalists to their staff. Additionally, insurance companies are starting to cover TCM treatment plans.
The depth of TCM is Vast and the information online is just the tip of the iceberg.
For our beloved dogs, the current practice is to look at Turkey as a cooling/neutral protein.
And if you are seeking one on one assistance with a holistic dog nutritionist that focuses on combining food energetics rooted in TCM, TCVM, and complete and balanced meals, then BOOK A ZOOM CALL with me for your dog.
If you have a deeper interest to learn more, visit your TCM school in your city and check out their library.
Hope that helps shed light.
Hannah Zulueta is a Certified Canine Nutritionist through the CASI Institute. She is also studying to get her Doctorate in Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Herbalism from the esteemed Pacific College of Health and Medicine.
She resides in San Diego with her three dogs, Maggie, Orbit, and Mr. Higgins.