Naturally Healthier Pets

part one

Our pets add so much to the quality of our lives. Even if we don't currently have pets many of us remember with great fondness our pets from childhood. Although pets come in all sizes and shapes­­ from gerbils, to pet rats, to fish­­ most Americans have at least one beloved feline or canine critter running around the house. Humans receive many benefits from pets: protection, recreation and unconditional love. Studies at the University of Illinois have proven that when a pet owner interacts with their animal, blood pressure lowers along with pulse rate; powerful chemicals that stimulate the immune system are released and a host of other beneficial effects can come into play. Don't we owe them the best care we can provide for them?

Our animal friends are many times subjected to the same dysfunction that we are when exposed to a diet made up of only processed foods, poor water quality and toxic chemicals. They cannot tell us when they don't feel well, yet many an astute pet owner knows when their pets don't feel right. We want to help them and it can be so distressing when conditions become chronic and nothing seems to help!

Where do we start? Well what's good for us and helps us will probably help them too­­ with a few adjustments. There's a growing awareness among health-conscious consumers that processed food with artificial additives­­ not optimal for human health­­ doesn't provide the best nutrition for our animal companions either. Unfortunately, much of the commercial pet food is made in part from meat that has been condemned for human consumption­­ high in toxins, pesticides and hormones.

It has been shown that animals fed raw foods are more resistant to disease than those that exist primarily on cooked foods. Optimally, our animals would receive a freshly made diet daily just as we do for ourselves. The reality is that in today's busy world most of us do not have time. In actuality, and I suppose I'm not going to make many friends with the veterinarians when I say this, but one of the best ways to supplement your animal's diet, and at this point I'm speaking mostly about our beloved dogs and cats, would be to allow them to have table scraps. I'm not talking about the shaved piece of fat from the meat, but the meat itself, the bones when appropriate, vegetables and fruits in smaller amounts, a few whole grain pastas, or grains­­ what ever they will eat.

If you have never allowed your animal table food, you and your animal are in for a treat. Of course, any adjustment in the animal's diet may at first cause some difficulty. Just as you would when you make diet adjustments you must go slowly! Dogs especially can really get into a little bit of fruit or certain raw vegetables. One of my cockers, raised on a fair amount of raw food from the time she was very young has been known to "dine" in my garden on a variety of vegetables. She loves brussels sprouts and laps up fresh carrot juice like it was milk or cream!

Nothing is more slimming to the waistline of that paunchy pooch than a few raw foods. Of course there are those animals that will turn up their nose, hold out or pout for their usual out-of-the-can food. Animals will NOT starve themselves (they're smarter than we are); give it a chance. Try mixing a few cooked vegetables in with some of their favorites, praising them as they eat. Dogs and cats are carnivorous and some animals cannot be coaxed, coddled or in any way persuaded to eat vegetables of fruit. They can still have some raw food and enjoy its health benefits by eating some high quality raw meat.

A balanced supplement can be used during times of stress or illness or when the pet becomes elderly. But, it should not take the place of a balanced diet that includes some raw foods.

The quality of the water you feed your pet should not be overlooked. Their small bodies will concentrate toxins and chlorine quicker than our larger bodies.

Feeding your pet a high quality commercial diet such as Iams, supplemented with some raw foods and good water, will reward you and your pet with increased vitality and longevity, fewer veterinarian bills, and give you a sense of comfort that you are providing the best you can for your beloved pet.

Stay tuned; next week we'll look at herbs and other natural remedies for your pet including some natural remedies for fleas, skin allergies and protecting your pet from dangerous chemicals he/she may run into in their environment.

Your questions or comments are always appreciated via The Zephyr, or my office at 312 Hill Arcade, 343-5256.

Last Modified: July 24, 1996

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