Blog: TCVM Series Part 7 of 7- Water Element Personality

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine: Water Element Personality

by Alexandra Mittner DVM

Today we are going to discuss the  Water element personality type and some of the diseases that they are predisposed to. Remember, previously we discussed the 5 element theory and how everything flows through a cycle between the elements; wood to fire to earth to metal to water. We also discussed how each element has assigned characteristics, such as taste, color, time of the year and stage of life. Some of the characteristics we mentioned were associated with the Water element are: the color black, the direction of north, the emotion of fear, and foods with a salty taste.

In Chinese medicine each animal has a base personality type. Typically once their personality is established, the animal remains at its core that personality, and predisposed to the influences of that element. However, as the animal goes through life, and through the cycle, the other elements will influence how they react to their environment and can influence and add depth to their personality. Every person and animal has a different set of experiences, we are all individuals. Knowing core personality types can help us better understand our interactions throughout life.

Water animals tend to have thin to medium build. They are characterized as having black hair on the head, large ears and big, deep eyes. Water is considered to be a yin personality, and Water animals are prone to cold; they tend to prefer warm areas like doggie beds or laying in the sun.

Water personality animals tend to be very quiet and reserved. They are considered to be the most introverted of the personalities, and tend to be more independent and solitary, even when in familiar surroundings. Like the Metal personality, Water likes to analyze the situation before acting. Water types are prone to the emotion of fear. These dogs are hesitant and tend to look to their owners for guidance in new situations. Most water animals prefer to hide or run, but will bite or scratch if unable to avoid unwanted interactions/perceived danger. These animals are also sometimes described as having a trembling or shivering posture. Although the personalities are not linked to specific breeds, many people are familiar with the “shivering” chihuahua that peeks out at new things from it’s owner’s purse or arms; this is a prime example of a water personality animal.

The Water element is associated with the kidney and bladder, with secondary associations to bones, ears/hearing, endocrine organs, genetic essence and sexual energy. Water animals are prone emotional stress from their constitution and when out of balance may manifest a variety of issues, from premature aging and hearing loss, to recurrent urinary tract infections, kidney or bladder stones. They are also prone to decreased fertility as the Kidney system stores sexual energy. Water animals are also prone to developing imbalances which can lead to endocrine disease that effect the body’s natural water balance, such as Cushing’s or Addison’s diseases (hyperadrenocorticism, hypoadrenocorticism) and thyroid dysfunction.

With better health care and nutrition, all domesticated animals are living longer in modern society. Water is a key component of all cells in our body and adult mammals (dogs, cats, humans etc) are approximately 60% water. Many of us, and our animals walk around in a mild state of dehydration. For people, we often just don’t drink enough water. For pets this is more complicated as they are much less efficient water drinkers, and  because they may get little to no water from their diet as the main foods fed to animals is  currently a kibble based diet, which has the majority of water removed. Overtime the lack of water in the diet, combined with the better prognosis for longevity leads our animals toward kidney system imbalance. This imbalance often manifests in older animals as arthritis, intervertebral disk disease, and kidney disease that eventually leads to kidney failure.

Knowing the personality of your animal can help to understand why they react to situations a certain way and what diseases they may be predisposed to. Once we have determined their personality type, we can work together to support your best friend throughout their lifetime and    optimize their quality of life.