You know how to lead a natural, holistic lifestyle, but is it time to extend it to your pets?
It’s no secret that having a pet can boost your wellbeing. A recent study by the Mayo Clinic confirmed that owning a dog can help your heart health, and it’s easy to see why. You get regular exercise when you walk a pooch, not to mention unconditional love.
Another study of 3.4 million people concluded that dog ownership lowers the risk of death from heart disease by 23 percent, as well as the risk of dying from any other condition by 20 percent.
But have you ever thought about what you can do for your pet’s health? More and more companies are offering ‘natural’ pet food, and claiming our animals are in need of a better nutritional offering than what’s currently on the market. So, what’s the truth? “As the incidence of animal diseases, including cancers and allergies increases, a more holistic approach to pet care has become increasingly important if our faithful friends are to live healthy and happy lives,” explains animal naturopath and nutritionist Kay Johnson from Healthful Pets (healthfulpets.co.uk), which boasts a huge amount of natural delights for furry friends. “Holistic animal care addresses the entire body, rather than its parts. It considers the animal’s mental and physical health, the environment around them and focuses on prevention as well as just treatment of symptoms.”
It makes sense that if a whole-body approach works for humans, it’ll work for our furry friends, too. And as with so many things, it all starts with the right nutrition. “Nutrition is central to holistic animal care and influences your pet’s emotional, as well as physical wellness,” says Kay. “Poor nutrition compromises an animal’s curative potential and leads to health imbalances, toxicity and disease. Good nutrition promotes a strong immune system, normal reproduction and growth. Food communicates with cells and controls our pets’ genes.
“To achieve optimal health and vitality, your pet needs a balanced combination of quality essential nutrients from protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Phytonutrients are increasingly recognised as a valuable addition to your pet’s diet. These plant chemicals, which include carotenoids and flavonoids from herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables are not essential, but when consumed, have been shown to convey beneficial effects on health.
“Your pet also needs to be able to digest, absorb, detoxify and eliminate properly, and high-quality foods are essential to these processes. The poorer the quality of food, the fewer nutrients the animal absorbs, and the more waste products are produced.
“Whilst appropriately balanced, speciesspecific, home-prepared food is a very healthy option for your pet, it is not always practical for many people and high-quality commercial foods can be an alternative. But as pet owners, we need to be discerning and read the labels on the food products that we buy, which can be a bit of a minefield to say the least!”
Animals nurture us by giving us unconditional love and we can nurture them by implementing the following suggestions:
Ensure your pets are fed a nutritionally balanced, species-specific, raw diet. This is the best diet that you can feed your dog or cat. It is unadulterated and contains all the enzymes and phytonutrients that are typically destroyed during food processing.
Select a range of protein sources such as chicken, turkey, venison, lamb, duck, and rabbit and rotate these to ensure your pets gets variety and to reduce the risk of food intolerances.
If you are unable to feed a raw diet then other options include a nutritionally balanced cooked homemade or commercially prepared diet, human grade wet food and human-grade dry food, using high-quality animal proteins, and not inferior quality grain-based options. Always opt for specifically named protein sources rather than just ‘poultry or meat’, and look for foods containing fresh sources of vegetables and fruit.
The worst diet that you can feed your pets is an unbalanced homemade diet – raw or cooked – which can lead to many health issues and even potentially be fatal.
Take great care when choosing dog and cat toys, ensuring that they are not made with plastic containing dyes, BPA and phthalates, as when chewed, these will be ingested.
Always use BPA-free plastic, stainless steel or ceramic water and feeding bowls, again to avoid your pet ingesting these chemicals, and provide fresh, good-quality filtered water at all times.
Reduce chemicals and toxins in your home by avoiding artificial air fresheners and scented candles and smoking near your pet. Opt for non-toxic/natural-based cleaning products.
Avoid sugar, chocolate, dairy, raw salmon, grapes, raisins, tomatoes, onions, xylitol, strawberries, peanuts, soy and citrus fruits.
Don’t feed high glycaemic carbohydrates from corn, sugar, wheat and white rice (brown rice is fine).
If you choose to feed your dog or cat your own formulated raw food diet, seek the advice and support of an animal nutritionist or holistic veterinarian to ensure your pet receives the proper balance of nutrients.
From time to time during your pet’s life, just like during your own life, there may be times when supplementing home prepared, species appropriate diets with good-quality, carefully selected animal appropriate vitamins, minerals and essential fats is extremely beneficial to your pet’s health and longevity.
Find an in-depth nutritional breakdown and expert rating of more than 1,500 dog foods at allaboutdogfood.co.uk
Find a holistic vet at bahvs.com
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