The Whole Health of our Pet
We like to think that most pets in the developed countries of our world live rather pampered and privileged lives. However, many people would be surprised to learn that the health challenges facing today’s pets are actually much greater than those faced by their ancestors. In addition to the many known diseases that pets are exposed to during their lives, factors such as our pet’s longer life spans, the ever-increasing levels of chemical pollution in our environment, poor diet, the over-use of “necessary toxins “such as vaccines and medications, and centuries of man-made genetic modifications that have made many breeds particularly susceptible to serious digestive, glandular and musculoskeletal problems all contribute heavily to the health problems that our pets encounter during their lives. Therefore, the health care and dietary choices we make for our pets must reflect these challenges.
Let’s briefly explore some of the things we can do as owners to greatly improve the health and quality of life of our pets.
- By far, the most important thing we can do to ensure a long and healthy life for your pet is to simply improve its diet. The adage “We are what we eat” is as true today for the pet as it is for its owner – only they don’t have a choice. We, as their stewards, must make the best choices we can to see that that truly healthy food is available for them. Yes, pet foods using human grade ingredients rather than refuse from human food processing are more expensive. But, they are significantly more digestible and usable by our carnivorous pets and result in less food being consumed, better weight control, and less waste (feces). Pet foods using bio-available carbohydrates such as oats, potato, rice and peas instead of wheat, corn and soy, as well as those containing a greater proportion of meat than carbohydrates should be the first choice when choosing food for our pet.
- Maintaining a healthy environment that includes clean air and water, minimum exposure to toxins, and plenty of physical and mental exercise to reduce stress has a huge impact on our pet’s health. Whether our pet has a job as many guardian and search & rescue dogs do, performs agility, field and tracking events for our enjoyment and sport, or merely performs the equally important job of being loving companion, it is vitally important to spend time daily interacting and providing our pet with mental and physical stimulation, as this is just as important as the best diet and supportive care we can give them.
- Many “geriatric” issues start to show up as our pets age. But many of the changes we attribute to “just getting old” can actually be prevented or reversed to degrees with newer therapies such as “veterinary chiropractic care” and massage for spinal and muscle maintenance, acupuncture for pain control and energy balancing, low level laser therapy for revitalizing and re-establishing cell function and boosting the healing process, and homeopathic, herbal, and nutritional supplements to support and maintain optimal health throughout lives.
In the coming months, I look forward to exploring these important pet health issues in more detail in future editions of “The Whole Health of our Pets”.