As we seek out more natural and holistic health care for ourselves, we are starting to look at ways we can incorporate natural health care for our dogs and cats into their lives. Our pets are, after all, a huge part of our family, and as they are living longer lives, we are looking at ways to keep them healthy using a holistic and natural approach.
Natural health care for dogs and cats can include a wide variety of treatments, from massage to Reiki healing, however, before we look into these in more detail we need to first define what natural health care actually is.
This is the first in a series of blogs I will write, covering natural health for our dogs and cats.
Please note I am not a health worker and do not have any medical qualifications, all information is based on my research.
Defining What Natural Means
Adopting a natural or holistic approach to our personal lives and that of our pets’, requires an understanding of what you feel natural means, and how to incorporate it into your life in a way that suits your budget and lifestyle.
Our ancestors, dating back thousands of years, have used plants and other stuff found in nature to treat illnesses. One common example is Willow bark, which is often used as a pain reliever. Eventually natural remedies became known as home remedies and were passed down from one generation to another. These remedies often include plants, spices and other items found in the home.
Moving on to Natural today, we probably all have different ideas on what this means. To me it may be eating fruit straight off a tree. However, how natural is this if the fruit has been sprayed with insecticides? I believe we need to understand that natural does not always mean organic, and it does not have any legal definitions, whereas, organic does.
When it comes to our pets’, there is no legal definition or standard that is used to define natural products. When looking for natural products read the labels, and look for products that are not artificial or include artificial ingredients, have little or no processing and no chemical additives. Use a buyer beware and common sense approach, and keep in mind that natural is a word used in marketing to attract buyers.
Defining Natural Health For Our Pets
Having defined natural as “not artificial”, what does this then mean in regard to our dogs and cats?
At a basic level I believe natural health for our pets starts with simply paying attention to your pet. If you watch your pet on a daily basis and pay attention to her eating habits, sleep, how she walks, runs, breathes, relaxes and plays, you will know when there is a problem. This has certainly been true for me with my pets as I know their habits so well that I can tell instantly when something is not right. You are then able to evaluate the problem and take action. This could be giving the pet a massage, herbal remedy, CBD Oil, or a trip to the veterinarian.
There are a number of different aspects to natural health, below is a short list of some examples, however, the holistic approach to pet care subscribes to the idea that the whole pet – that is all aspect of the pets life must be considered.
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Examples Of Natural Health
1. Diet – natural health and your pets diet are strongly linked. As a pet owner you will need to make nutritional choices based on facts – not marketing.
2. Obesity – helping your pet to maintain a healthy weight using nutrition and exercise.
3. Joint protection – providing your pets with joint protection and supplements, based on scientific evidence.
4. Alternative treatments – this includes using treatments such as acupuncture, massage, physiotherapy, chiropractic and strength building, to enhance wellness and treat specific conditions.
5. Making educated choices regarding vaccinations and a vaccination schedule.
A Brief Look At Alternative Health Techniques
As we look at more natural health options for ourselves, this naturally extends to our pets’, many pet owners try to treat their pets as they do themselves.
The general accepted definition for alternative medicine is anything used for health care or prevention that falls outside of the scope of conventional medicine.
List of Alternative Techniques
Aromatherapy – This includes using scented oils for a healing purpose.
Acupuncture – This is a practice that involves placing fine needles in specific areas of the pets body to ease symptoms and ailments.
Chiropractic – A practitioner treating and preventing musculoskeletal system disorders.
Ayurveda – This involves complementing conventional medicine, rather than replacing it, with traditional medicine of India.
Herbal Remedies – This involves using plants, or parts of plants, to treat health issues.
Homeopathy – Using highly diluted preparations in a medicinal fashion to treat health disorders.
Nutrition – Feeding the right food to your dog or cat.
Reiki – This is a Japanese technique of using warmth and the placement of hands to assist in healing.
Note:- Pet Alert!! Cats are more sensitive to certain substances. Only use herbs and flower essences when that substance is well-known to be safe for cats. Never use oils as most are toxic for cats. Always consult a vet before using any natural products on your pets.
You as a pet owner have the choice to use one alternative treatment on your pet, or they can be combined using what is needed at the time for a particular treatment. Always consider going to your vet for advice before opting for natural treatments.
Consulting Your Vet
When done correctly a natural approach to pet health can be highly beneficial to you and your pet. This includes looking at your pets overall life, including your pet’s relationship with you, it’s home environment, grooming and body care, exercises and nutrition.
It is important to find a veterinarian who is willing to work with you as you explore natural health options for your pet. Traditional and natural care can, and should, blend together seamlessly. In order to feel comfortable with the care your vet is offering you will need to have a frank talk with him or her to find out if they are willingly to work with you as you try new things. Find out what background or knowledge your vet has in natural techniques. If you are comfortable with your vets answer, ask more questions. You will need to bear in mind that many natural techniques are not scientifically proven, let your vet explain their own opinion/concerns. You will then need to find a balance that will satisfy both of you. Not all vets are open to natural health for our pets’, so you may have to do some investigation to find a vet that is.
Saving Our Planet
Many people begin using natural techniques for themselves, their family and their pets, out of concern for the planet. We all know that making even small changes can make a difference.
Here are some ways pet owners can make a difference:-
By feeding your pet a better diet they produce less waste.
If you feed a homemade diet try to choose meat from animals raised locally, rather than from factory farm animals.
Use biodegradable bags to pick up after your dog.
Use a more natural kitty litter for your cats.
Try to buy toys and other products made from naturally sustainable sources or recycled materials.
Choose pet shampoos, conditioners and other products made from natural ingredients rather than from chemicals.
The Least You Need To Know About Going Natural
Many aspects of natural health are not scientifically proven. This does not necessarily mean they do not work, do your research, and remember being a bit of a skeptic is not always a bad idea.
Natural health for your cat or dog can include many things, such as, nutrition, exercise, quality time with you, herbal remedies and acupuncture.
A great practice for many pet owners is to combine natural health care with conventional care.
It benefits your pet and helps the planet when you use natural products and techniques. Learn to read labels, look for fewer chemicals and choose products made from sustainable practices.
Leave me a comment on any natural procedures you use, I would love to hear your ideas.
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Smile for the day, did you know cats have 32 muscles in each ear to help them ignore you?
Information sourced from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.