Holistic Health For Dogs and Cats
After 10 years in the real world of veterinary medicine, I have come to learn that there is much more to it than what they teach in veterinary school. My eyes have been opened to things that I never would have predicted. I am happy to give credit to my well-intentioned clients and their beloved animal companions.
In this article I recommend holistic health decisions that I have personally seen impact the health of dogs and cats.
"You Are What You Eat"
It all starts with food. The saying for people "You are what you eat" applies to animals as well. Many common brands of dog and cat food are loaded with byproducts, synthetic chemicals, and man-made vitamins. Added in are synthetic antioxidants to keep the food "fresh" as well as flavor enhancers (chemical cocktails) to keep the animal begging for more.
After seeing all the health problems that animals acquire while eating these brands, I have come to realize that the front of the package should say, "Save now, pay later!" in veterinary bills that is. I have heard so many times, "...but he won't eat anything else. He really likes it."
Children will usually pick candy over a spinach salad if they have the choice. Does that mean you should feed your children candy for every meal?
The healthiest dogs and cats that I have seen eat a raw food diet. The second healthiest are the ones eating a home-prepared diet. The third healthiest are eating premium food made with human grade (preferably organic) ingredients.
Many chronic illnesses including inflammatory bowel Disease (IBD), ear infections and skin infections respond to a change to healthier food. I have found that even if an allergy is diagnosed as an inhalant, contact, or flea allergy and you are told that you don't need to change the food, you usually DO need to change the food. A diet rich in essential fatty acids (Omega 3's), essential amino acids (high quality protein) and other nutrients including trace minerals helps the animal respond in a normal way to environmental allergens (i.e., without itching, hives, infections, etc). With a change to a healthier diet, many animals eventually no longer need medical intervention (i.e., prednisone, antihistamines, and allergy injections).
Many dogs and cats have "sensitive stomachs" and vomit either routinely or with any change in diet. Some get diarrhea easily and are frequently prescribed antibiotics. In the last few years, I have discovered that many pet's symptoms have resolved by feeding them beneficial bacteria. It is so nice when clients express how happy they are not to have the vomit or diarrhea to clean up, and to have their healthy pet back.
To help assure that your pet's diet is packed with nutrients as well as beneficial bacteria, I recommend supplementing it with In-Liven. In-Liven is a probiotic supplement that contains 26 certified organic, raw, whole foods. These whole foods are rich in varied nutrients including naturally-occurring vitamins, Omega 3 fatty acids (linseeds aka flaxseeds), essential amino acids, minerals and digestive enzymes. The probiotics in the supplement include 13 different strains of beneficial bacteria and yeast.
In addition to the Omega 3's in the In-Liven, fish oil should also be given. It should be from cold-water, fatty fish such as salmon, cod, anchovies, sardines, and/or mackerel. The oil should be kept in the fridge, even if the container says room temperature is okay (this helps keep the fat from spoiling).
Most people know that Omega 3's are good for the skin and coat, but did you know they are also healthy for the heart, kidneys (renal insufficiency), joints (arthritis), eyes ("dry eye"), diabetes regulation and more?
The latest continuing education conference I attended suggested a dose of approximately 2 grams (2000 mg) per 10 pounds of body weight per day for a dog with arthritis. That is a MUCH larger dose than commonly recommended. Many animals can do well on much less, so don't avoid the supplement just because you think the dose is unreasonable. Even 100 mg per 10 lbs body weight per day would be useful. If you go higher, do it gradually over at least a week.
If doing a raw and/or home-prepared diet, be sure to read a book (including recipes) on the subject to educate yourself thoroughly first. This will help ensure the diet is well-balanced, packed with nutrients and safe to eat.
With all the latest talk about over-vaccination, many people express their concerns to me. Adverse reactions from vaccinations are a gray area that is difficult to prove. Some people believe that vaccinations may be associated with a myriad of chronic health problems. Consider requesting vaccination titers from your veterinarian in lieu of vaccinations themselves.
Vaccination titers are antibody levels against specific diseases which are measured in a blood sample. Titers costs vary, but expect to pay three to four times more than the vaccination. For the long-term health of your pet, titers may be worth every penny.
Pesticides are a real concern for many pet owners. I have had to call Poison Control in some cases of pesticide poisoning or adverse reactions. A company called Arbico organics sells Beneficial Nematodes which are worms that eat fleas in your yard. They are not harmful to to humans or animals. This is a better option that treating the backyard with most "non-toxic" chemicals. Applied chemicals may contact your pets, children and water supply.
This article is intended to broaden your education about holistic pet health. There is so much more that is beyond the scope of this article. I encourage you to educate yourself, talk to your veterinarian and make health decisions for your pet that you feel good about.
Beyond traditional veterinary medicine, alternatives including physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractics, and herbology have helped many pets. Don't be afraid to explore your options.
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