If you own a dog, you may be accustomed to referring to it as large, medium or small. But in Ayurveda, body types are more complex than that. Body typing is a unique concept in Ayurvedic medicine, based on the five elements theory.
Determining your pet’s body type allows you to learn how to create balance in their mind, body and spirit, thereby allowing your pet to achieve and maintain optimal health. Moreover, when your pets are functioning at optimal levels, they benefit not only themselves, but also the world around them. Your pets affect the people and places around them in a positive way.
In individuals and pets, the five elements manifest as the Tridosha. Dosha means “protective,” or, when out of balance, “disease-producing.” The Tridosha are the three humors, or metabolic forces that make up the mind and body. They are called Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Vata is considered the leader of the three Ayurvedic Principles in the body. Vata governs all movement in the mind and body. It controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing and the movement of thoughts across the mind. It’s very important to keep Vata in good balance. The related elements are Air and Ether.
Common characteristics of pets who have a predominantly Vata constitution:
- Mental quickness
- Highly intelligent
- Quick to learn and grasp new knowledge, but also quick to forget
- Slenderness; lightest of the three body types
- Runs and walks quickly
- Tendency toward cold paws, discomfort in cold climates
- Excitable, lively, fun personality
- Changeable moods
- Irregular daily routine
- Variable appetite and digestive efficiency
- High energy in short bursts; tendency to tire easily and to overexert
- Full of joy and enthusiasm when in balance
- Respond to stress with fear, worry, and anxiety, especially when out of balance
- Tendency to act on impulse
- Often distracted easily
- Generally have dry skin and dry fur
- Typical health problems include hypertension, earaches, anxiety, irregular heart rhythms, muscle spasms, lower back pain, constipa- tion, abdominal gas, diarrhea, nervous stomach and arthritis. Most neurological disorders are related to Vata imbalance.
Pets of Vata constitution are generally physically slender and small- framed. Their chests are flat with their veins and muscle tendons visible. The skin is cool, rough, dry and cracked. Vata pets generally are either taller or shorter than average, with thin frames that reveal prominent joints and bone-ends because of small muscle development. The eyes may be sunken, small, dry, and active. The nails are rough and brittle. The shape of the nose is bent and in some cases turned-up.
Physiologically, the appetite and digestion are variable. The production of urine is scanty and the feces are dry, hard, and small in quantity. Their sleep may be disturbed and they will sleep less than the other types. Their paws are often cold.
Psychologically, they are characterized by short memories but quick mental understanding. They will understand something immediately, but will soon forget it. They sometimes lack determination, tend toward mental instability, and are sensitive to tolerance, confidence, or boldness. Vata pets are nervous, fearful at times, and afflicted by much anxiety.
Pitta is a force created by the dynamic interplay of water and fire. These forces represent transformation. Pitta governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism, body temperature, the luster of the eyes, intelligence, and understanding. Psychologically, Pitta arouses anger and jealousy. The small intestine, stomach, sweat glands, blood, fat, eyes, and skin are the seats of Pitta.
Common characteristics of pets who have a predominantly Pitta body type:
- Medium physique, strong, well-built
- Sharp mind, good powers of concentration
- Assertive, self-confident; aggressive, demanding, pushy when out of balance
- Competitive, enjoy challenge
- Strong digestion, strong appetite; get irritated if they have to miss or wait for a meal
- Like to be in command
- When under stress, Pittas become irritated and angry
- Uncomfortable in sun or hot weather; heat makes them very tired
- People may find them stubborn or pushy
- Generally good leadership ability, usually acts as leader of the pack
- Subject to mood swings, impatience, and anger
- Typical physical problems include rashes or inflammations of the skin, acne, boils, skin cancer, ulcers, heartburn, acid stomach, hot sensations in the stomach or intestines, insomnia, bloodshot or burning eyes and other vision problems, anemia, jaundice.
These pets are of medium build, are slender, and their body frame may be delicate. They show a medium prominence of veins and muscle tendons. The bones are not as prominent as in the Vata pet. Muscle development is moderate.
The fur is soft and warm. The eyeballs will be of medium prominence. The claws are softer. The shape of the nose is sharp. Physiologically, these pets have a strong metabolism, good digestion and resulting strong appetites. The animal of Pitta constitution usually takes large quantities of food and liquid. Their sleep is of medium duration but uninterrupted. They produce a large volume of urine. The body temperature may run slightly high, and their paws will tend to be warm. Pitta pets do not tolerate sunlight or heat well.
Psychologically, Pitta pets have good powers of comprehension; they are very intelligent and sharp. They have emotional tendencies toward hate, anger, and jealousy.
Kapha is the conceptual equilibrium of water and earth. Kapha is both structure and lubrication. One can visualize the Kapha force as the stirring force that keeps the water and the earth from separating. This dosha maintains body resistance. Water is the main constituent of Kapha, and this bodily water is responsible physiologically for biological strength and natural tissue resistance in the body. Kapha lubricates the joints; provides moisture to the skin; helps to heal wounds; fills the spaces in the body; gives biological strength, vigor, and stability; supports memory retention; gives energy to the heart and lungs, and maintains immunity.
Kapha is present in the chest, throat, head, sinuses, nose, mouth, stomach, joints, cytoplasm, plasma, and in the liquid secretions of the body, such as mucus. Psychologically, Kapha is responsible for the emotions of attachment and greed. It is also expressed in tendencies toward calmness, forgiveness, and love. The chest is the seat of Kapha.
Common characteristics of pets who have a predominantly Kapha constitution:
- Easygoing, relaxed, slow-paced
- Affectionate and loving, forgiving, compassionate, non-judgmental nature, stable and reliable; faithful
- Physically strong with a sturdy, heavier build
- Have the most energy of all constitutions, but it is steady and enduring, not explosive
- Slow moving and graceful
- Slower to learn, but never forgets; outstanding long-term memory
- Soft fur; tendency to have large “soft” eyes and are soft tempered
- Tend toward being overweight; may suffer from sluggish digestion
- More self-sufficient, need less outward stimulation than do the other types; have a mild, gentle, and essentially undemanding approach to life
- Excellent health, strong resistance to disease
- Calm, strive to maintain peace in their surroundings
- Not easily upset and can be a point of stability for others
- Tend to be possessive
- Don’t like cold, damp weather
- Physical problems include colds and congestion, respiratory problems including asthma and wheezing, hay fever, allergies, and atherosclerosis
Pets of Kapha constitution have well-developed bodies. There is, however, a strong tendency for these individuals to carry excess weight. Their chests are expanded and broad. The veins and tendons of Kapha pets are not obvious because of their thick skin and their muscle development is good. The bones are not prominent.
The fur is soft, lustrous, and oily, and skin texture is cold and pale. The fur is thick, dark, soft, and wavy. The eyes are dense, large, and attractive. Physiologically, Kapha pets have regular appetites. Due to slow digestion, they tend to consume less food. Stools are soft and may be pale in color, evacuation is slow. Sleep is sound and prolonged. There is a strong vital capacity evidenced by good stamina, and Kapha pets are generally healthy, happy and peaceful.
Psychologically, they tend to be tolerant, calm, forgiving, and loving: however, they also exhibit traits of greed, attachment and possessive- ness. Their comprehension is slow but definite: once they understand something, that knowledge is retained.
Other body types are a combination and permutation of the dosha present in them. Life is considered a sacred path in Ayurveda; a ceaseless interaction between the internal Tridosha, environment and the external environment, or the sum of cosmic forces. To counterbalance external change, a pet lover may create a balance for their pet in the internal forces by altering his or her diet, lifestyle, and behavior.