Healthier pets naturally

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, rats, or fish -- most Americans have at least one beloved feline or canine critter running around the house. Humans receive many benefits from pets: protection, recreation, socialization and unconditional love. Studies at the University of Illinois have proven that when a pet owner interacts with their animal, blood pressure and pulse rate lower, 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 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 and toxic chemicals. They cannot tell us when they don't feel well, yet many an astute pet owner knows when their pet doesn't feel well. 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, in general, will probably help them as well. 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.

Studies show that animals fed some raw foods are more resistant to disease than those that exist primarily on cooked, processed 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. If your animal has a taste for it, give them ''samples'' of freshly prepared vegetables, raw or steamed from your dinner. Skip the high fat meat shavings or skins that you wouldn't eat either. After all, their cholesterol is probably a little high too!

Nothing is more slimming to the waistline of that paunchy pooch than a few raw foods. Of course there are those animals that will pout, turn up their nose and hold out for their usual canned fair. Dogs especially don't like changes in their diet. Not to worry, they won't starve themselves; give it a chance. For those animals that cannot be coaxed, coddled or in any way persuaded to eat raw or cooked vegetables or fruit, try some high-quality raw meat. Small portions only.

Other tips for healthier pets naturally:

Use a balanced supplement during times of stress or illness and for aging pets, especially enzymes.

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

Use herbals and homeopathics when appropriate in place of high-powered drugs.

Feeding your pet a high quality diet supplemented with some raw foods and good water will reward you and your pet with increased vitality and longevity and fewer trips to the veterinarian. The reward is the sense of comfort you feel for providing the very best for your beloved pet.

Stay tuned. Next week I'll look at herbs and other natural remedies for your pet -- including some natural remedies for fleas, skin allergies, protection from dangerous environmental chemicals and other common ailments that your pet may encounter.

part two

In part one I talked about some basics for our furry friends. In part two I'd like to talk about some common problem areas our animal friends deal with and how we can help them heal themselves, live long and happy lives, and never wet on the carpet, or out of their box again -- yeah right. I was just kidding! Sometimes critters is critters and they will be unpredictable. We love them all the same. We want the best for them but we're sometimes just uninformed about what's available.

For those of you who missed part one, I looked at how our pets' health is directly tied to the quality of the food they eat. Poor food and water quality, foods overly processed, chemicalized and devoid of nutrition will only add to whatever health problems your pet may experience. Dr. Jean Dodds DVM, of Santa Monica, Calif. belongs to The American Holistic Veterinary Association and specializes in immunology and hematology. She sees animals with a vast array of difficulties which she states is directly related to poor immunity. She states ''food containing preservatives, chemicals and pesticides can make animals prone to digestive problems, skin and allergy problems and possibly even cancer.'' She recommends a premium quality food that is naturally preserved with vitamins C and E, supplementation with raw foods and good water. She uses the herbs milk thistle for cleansing and detoxifying the liver, and echinacea and goldenseal to boost immunity.

The general consensus regarding skin problems among most veterinarians is that it is an allergic response. Dogs and cats are particularly susceptible to environmental toxins such as lawn chemicals. Certainly most pet owners know about these most obvious contaminants, however, there are many more that are equally as harmful. The number two cause of US household poisonings for pets is from other kinds of household chemicals and cleaners. Some of the major toxins in the home, over and above pesticides, that may induce allergy or more serious injury to your pet are: laundry products, cleaning products, flea killers, synthetic carpeting, formaldehyde and paint. Store these items where your pet will not be tempted to sniff or chew the bag or bottle.

Other tips:

For skin problems feed essential fatty acids. Most animals like flax seed or fish oils. Purchased from the health food store, most animals will lick it right up. Vitamins A, C, and E in correct dosages for your pet's weight is also essential.

For arthritis, try flax seed oil, raw foods, and digestive enzymes. Or, try the herbs alfalfa and garlic.

For your kitty's hairballs, add extra fiber to the diet -- psyllium seed and husk is good. Essential oils sometimes help as well.

For worms, try garlic with food, grated carrot, turnip or beet. Digestive enzymes between meals will help the animal literally digest the parasite.

For fleas, don't ignore the problem; it will only get worse! Feed nutritional yeast and garlic which helps repel fleas from the inside out. Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar a day to food or water. Dust your animal with diatomaceous earth -- high grade purchased from the health food store, not the garden or pool accessory store. It does wonders without the chemicals. Also, the herb penny royal can be used. Dilute with water and spray the coat. A few drops in a cup of water is plenty.

To achieve a more flea-free yard, use Nc Nematode. Nc Nematode is a group of micro-organisms that live in the soil, killed when you fertilize and spray your lawn. They attack and feed on flea larvae in the turf.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online July 25, 2000

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