Treating Animals with Five Element Theory


The Five Element Theory in Chinese Medicine is a comprehensive diagnostic tool that organizes nature into five groups or patterns. The Principles of the Five Element Theory can be applied to the characteristics of each individual animal, which allows me to categorize the personality and the disease tendencies of an animal. By comparing an animal to its most dominant elemental personality type, I can understand the patient as a whole and can address the imbalances associated with it’s constitution. After I figure out an pet’s constitution, I will then examine them and observe their tongue and feel their pulses to make a TCVM diagnosis and formulate a plan for treatment.

Here is a breakdown of each of the Five Elements and some personality characteristics associated with each Element. Can you identify your pet’s Element?

Wood: Wood animals are usually very dominant (Alpha animal) and athletic. They have quick and fast movements and can easily become angry. They are very alert and confident and respond quickly. When imbalances occur, they are prone to allergies, neurosis/anger, liver disease, ligament problems, ear problems, and anal sac issues. The liver is the dominant organ system for Wood animals. As a breed, the Jack Russell Terrier tends to be a Wood personality. The recommended foods include chicken liver or pork liver, green vegetables, carrots, and citrus fruits.

Fire: Fire animals are extroverted and easily excited/difficult to calm down. They tend to be noisy and bark more. They love to be petted and are the center of the party. They are predisposed to cardiovascular disease, separation anxiety, restlessness, excess heat, and insomnia. The heart is the dominant organ system for Fire animals. The majority of Chihuahuas in my practice tend to be Fire personalities. Diet recommendations include foods such as pork heart, fish, brown rice, wheat and vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, celery, and mushrooms.

Earth: Earth animals tend to be kind and take care of others. They are relaxed and laid back and sociable. They tend to be heavier set and are extremely loyal. As a breed, the Labrador Retrievers tend to be earth personalities. When imbalances occur, they are prone to GI problems, weak muscles, obesity, and gum disease. The spleen is the dominant organ system for Earth animals. Some food recommendations for Earth animals include lamb, chicken, and sweet potato.

Metal: Metal animals love order and have a disciplined attitude. They usually have a good hair coat and a symmetrical body and tend to be aloof. They are predisposed to respiratory problems, dry skin, cough, diabetes, and constipation. The herding breeds, such as the Border Collie or the Aussie tend to be Metal animals. The lung is the dominant organ system for Metal animals. Recommended foods include duck, egg, barley, and rice.

Water: Water animals are introverted and fearful about everything. They are careful and curious and like to hide. They can be fear biters and are typically hard to acupuncture. They are predisposed to hind end weakness, bone and back pain, urinary diseases, infertility, and deafness. Giant breeds such as the Great Dane tend to be water dogs. The kidney is the main organ system for Water animals and the Kidney stores the essence, otherwise known as Jing, which influences an animals growth, development, and reproduction. Feeding pork kindly, eggs, duck and sweet potatoes are recommended.


Dr. Paula Monte, DVM, CVA is a veterinarian certified in chiropractic, acupuncture, and herbal medicine.  Her practice caters to horses and small animals.  Dr. Paula is based on Cape Cod in Mashpee, Massachusetts.  She is licensed and serves clients throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Eastern New York.

Her attention to detail and quality of services allow us to serve our clients with the utmost competence and compassion. Get in touch with Dr. Monte: