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A Holistic Lifestyle EnsuresYour Pet’s Health

by Jan Allegretti & Katy Sommers, DVM

Holistic health care for your pet, as for any other member of the family, begins with a lifestyle, one that takes into account his physical as well as emotional well-being.

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For many of us, our first experience with holistic health care starts with a packet of herbs, or a bottle of nutritional supplements recommended by a friend, or an article in a magazine. For others it begins when a family member--human or nonhuman--becomes ill, and conventional treatments just seem too invasive, or carry the risk of too many side effects. In an effort to find a gentler alternative we may seek out a health food store and explore the aisles filled with “all natural” remedies.

Holistic health care for your pet, as for any other member of the family, begins with a lifestyle, one that takes into account his physical as well as emotional well-being. It’s a lifestyle that supports the animal’s innate wellness with wholesome nutrition, a nurturing environment, and the opportunity to be a happy, well-adjusted member of his human and animal community.

A holistic lifestyle lays the foundation for good health so that your pet’s “life energy” will be vibrant, strong, and unencumbered. When this foundation is in place, your pet will thrive, and his own healing capacities will ward off most of the health problems that might otherwise come his way. If he does succumb to an illness or injury, he will be better able to respond to the support of natural remedies like nutritional supplements, herbs, and homeopathic remedies to bring his system back into balance.

Your pet’s diet is a key factor in maintaining his health. Many problems can be traced directly to short-comings with diet, while wholesome life-supporting food allows your pet’s system to function at its best. Good nutrition supports your pet’s natural healing energies so that, if he does become ill, he can respond quickly to the gentle healing effects of natural medicines.       

If, on the other hand, your pet’s diet is less wholesome, or includes substances that make a poor--or even negative--contribution to his well-being, his vital energy will be compromised. He’ll be more susceptible to invasive or degenerative disease, and may need more invasive treatments to slow the progression of illness.

What may be most troublesome is that, in reality, there is no such thing as a commercial food--or, for that matter, any other single diet--that is “100% nutritionally complete” for every pet. Contrary to manufacturer’s claims, when you feed the same food every day you run a risk that your pet will not get all the nutrients he needs.

Nutrition is an evolving science, and absolute evidence that all pets need a given amount of a particular vitamin or mineral simply doesn’t exist. What’s more, dietary requirements vary from one animal to the next, and it would be impossible to guarantee that your pet’s needs are met by any one brand of food. The best way to assure that he gets all the nutrients he requires is to feed a variety of foods, so that his body can draw different substances from different sources. That’s not possible when he is served the same food at every meal.
What You Can Do
Consider adopting one of these mealtime alternatives:
Prepare fresh, home-cooked meals.
Reevaluate your choice of prepackaged food, and rotate between several brands that meet your rigorous new standards of quality.
Develop a routine that combines fresh food with an exceptionally high quality prepackaged brand.
A healthy home environment is also important. When we recognize the importance of caring for our pets as physical and emotional beings, the need to create a safe and happy home environment becomes clear. Your home, after all, is where your pet’s primary physical and emotional needs will be met. Your home should be a safe place for him, which means that he is sheltered not only from the elements, but also from stress and from unseen hazards that might jeopardize his health. 

Excerpted with permission from The Complete Holistic Dog Book  ©2003 by Jan Allegretti and Katy Sommers, D.V.M., published by Celestial Arts, Berkeley, CA. Available in stores or visit www.tenspeed.com.

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