We love our pets, they are part of our family and we want to do our best for them, to make their lives as healthy and happy as possible. It can be a difficult task. Just as the human population has seen more chronic degenerative disease so have our pets. And for the same reasons: poor nutrition, over vaccination and medication, stress, and toxins in the environment. For many generations now our pets have been living on highly processed foods, receiving yearly vaccinations, and living with our pollution. This has taken its toll on their immune systems and their vitality. I cannot prove it, but I believe that their vital force is weaker than it was in their forebears at the turn of the last century. One vet I know says that his practice is 25-40% cancer patients. 40%!
We cannot prevent every illness but we can give our pets every possible advantage to heal themselves. The most important thing, as it is for people too, is nutrition. First – get rid of the kibble. I don’t care if it says that it contains all the required nutrients or has been approved by AAFCO or anyone else. How do you think you would fare if you ate nothing but crackers for your whole life? Even if they were fortified with vitamins and minerals. Kibble is a highly processed product, about as far from whole food as you can get. It is also grain based. The only grains felines & canines get in the wild is the small amount digesting in their prey’s stomach, they are not eating grain in quantity. The other issue with kibble is that it has very little water content. Cats in particular need to get water from their food. A mouse is 70% water. Most cats will not drink enough extra water to make up for this deficiency. This in turn can lead to bladder problems. Dogs are more omnivorous but they too should be eating mostly meat.
So what do we feed our pets? For cats and dogs, ideally, a raw meat diet. It’s great if we can make it ourselves but if that is not feasible there are an increasing number of raw foods available for our pets. What you want is a food that is about 95% meat, organs & bones with the other 5% being supplements and some vegetable matter for the roughage which would normally be provided by fur and feathers. If raw is not available for you then at least a high quality grain free canned food. For a bunch of great information on cat nutrition and making your own food go to: catinfo.org. For doggy diets and info go to www.thewholedog.org. For our herbivore pets it is even easier. Fresh raw vegetables and grasses – see: this page. This article is about rabbits in particular but I think much of the information could apply to other herbivores. Do some research on your particular pet. What does this animal eat in the wild?
The next thing we can do is to clean up their environment as much as possible. This will benefit us as well. Get rid of the toxic cleaners, synthetic fragrances, and VOC laden paint. Do not smoke around your pets and get a good water filter – e.g. Aquasana. Brush your pet daily to increase circulation and help remove toxins that have been released through the skin.
Get to know your pets, their habits and behaviors. Be aware of any changes in their behavior, eating, and elimination. This is how your pets will speak to you, let you know that something is not right with them.
I would also recommend finding a holistic veterinarian or at least one who is open to alternative treatments and one who does not want to vaccinate your pet every year. People do not get vaccinated every year so why do we do it to our pets? The only vaccine required by law in most states is rabies and often that requirement is every 3 years. There is mounting evidence that over vaccination causes a variety of health problems including thyroid disease and cancer. If your pet spends time outdoors or in the company of other animals you can get titers done to check for anti-bodies so you know the original vaccination is still effective. For more info on vaccines including what kind you should get see this page.
Most of the alternative therapies available for people will also benefit your pets. Herbs, acupuncture, massage, homeopathy, reiki and other energy healing. Do some research – and not just on the web- but in books. Talk to other pet owners and to holistic healers. And listen to your own intuition. You know your pet. If you think there is a problem get it checked out. If the first vet you go to won’t listen to your concerns then find another. If your vet does not have holistic training but is open to it, get a holistic practitioner to consult. There is an increasing number of people who include animals in their healing practice and they will be glad to help you.
If you would like to schedule a reiki session or an herbal consultation for your pet please contact me.
The Nature of Animal Healing by Martin Goldstein
The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care by C.J Puotinen
Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Richard Pitcairn (though I disagree with some of his food choices)
Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition by Dr. Francis Pottenger
Four Paws, Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Dogs & Cats by Cheryl Schwartz
Herbs for Pets by Mary Wulff & Greg Tilford