Most of us switch things up now and then. We adjust our diet, start practicing yoga, go to the chiropractor or try acupuncture treatments. Might some of these same practices keep our pets in better health as well?
To feed or not to feed
Your kitty may love a lot of the same foods you do and will eat a bite of cheese when it’s offered. Your dog may eagerly gobble up just about anything you’re willing to share. It’s so easy to please our pets with food—but is it really a loving thing to do? Pet nutrition needs are not the same as ours, and while most of us are well-intentioned, we may be uninformed about exactly what our pets need.
Quality and quantity both matter
Obese animals can suffer many of the same health problems overweight people face, including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. A better diet can improve overall well-being, reduce inflammation and ease symptoms—and even potentially reverse—chronic diseases.
Because dogs and cats are carnivores, the more protein they eat, the better. But the store bought, high-carb food option really isn’t the best for them. Some experts say that pet foods free of corn, wheat, soy, and peanut butter are best. Talk to your vet before making a food change, and if you do make an adjustment, introduce it gradually.
Water is nutrition too
Did you know our furry friends are made up of 60-70% water, just like us? Getting in enough fluids everyday can sometimes be a challenge (they’re like us in that regard as well!). Providing fresh, cool, abundant water in a clean container every day will help ensure they are hydrated.
Cats have special needs when it comes to water, and are at particular risk of dehydration due to a low thirst drive. If a cat is served mainly a dry food diet, the result can be serious urinary tract problems. Including wet cat food as an option helps (sneak in a couple tablespoons of water into the chow if you can), and again, multiple sources of fresh, clean water are an absolute must.
A Holistic Approach
Many veterinarians are practicing holistic medicine today. These types of vets look at a pet’s overall health, not just the ailment the pet has at the moment. While they utilize lab testing, suggest prescription medications when needed and use traditional therapies they also may offer or suggest acupuncture, herbs and other remedies to keep pets healthy. Holistic veterinarians encourage changes in pets’ diets and lifestyles to ward off illnesses. Here are some of the alternative treatments that you might want to consider for your household pets:
Traditional acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles in specific points of the body by a trained practitioner to relieve an animal’s pain. This is especially beneficial for pets with back pain, arthritis, muscle spasms and other pain or ailments.
Chiropractors adjust the bones in the spine and other parts of the body to alleviate pain. For pets, you won’t hear cracking sounds during an adjustment because not much aggressive force is used. Pets with neck or back problems can benefit from these treatments, just as humans often do.
Massage can improve blood flow, reduce swelling and help with anxiety issues. Plus, pets like it! But it is a therapy, and it’s important that someone with proper training administer the massage.
Scent is an important part of an animal’s life. Their sense of smell is much more developed than a human’s. Please be mindful using aromatherapy and always err on the side of caution. When used correctly, aromatherapy can greatly reduce pet anxiety and stress, but can also be toxic, especially to cats. Always ensure your pet has an option to leave a room if the scent becomes irritating to them.
Herbs can help calm pets. Some holistic vets prescribe herbs like chamomile, kava, or valerian to soothe animals. They may also recommend herb combinations that are created specifically for your pet. Remember though, that herbs are like medicines, so proceed conservatively, in order to prevent the situation from becoming worse.
Our furry friends cannot tell us what is wrong so we need to be alert to warning signs and symptoms. You can act promptly to prevent a situation from getting worse simply by paying attention. Here are some symptoms to watch out for:
- Itchy skin or eczema
- Hair loss or shedding
- Waxy or itchy ears
- Runny eyes
- Tooth tartar
- Bad breath
- Chewing feet
- Anal gland problems
- Digestive upsets
- Body odor
- Eating grass
- Energy extremes: hyperactivity or loss of energy
These are all indications that toxic matter is accumulating in the body and that the immune system is attempting to get rid of them. Take precautions and contact your animal healthcare provider at the first sign of something amiss. The animals in your life will thank you.