Clean, pure water: a naturopathic principle of health

Clean, pure water: a naturopathic principle of health

Naturopathy follows 8 principles of health: proper nutrition; appropriate and adequate exercise; clean, pure water; access to sunshine and (if needed) appropriate supplements; balance and moderation; fresh air; an adequate amount of rest; and trust in the process. Here, we look at the 3rd principle of health: your pet’s need for clean, pure water.  As a general rule, it is important to make sure your pet has access to fresh, pure, clean water at all times.  Notice I said clean, pure water—which is slightly different than just saying fresh water.  We will be looking at the importance of providing chlorine and fluoride-free water (among other things) in this article.  Essentially, if you drink filtered water, give your pet the same.

Isn’t tap water OK for my pet?

Short answer? No. The tap water in most places in America contains chlorine, fluoride, and various (and varying) amounts of dissolved minerals, such as chlorides, sulfates, and bicarbonates.  In addition to these, much of it also contains trace amounts of aluminum, nitrates, insecticides, herbicides, and prescription medications (including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers, and sex hormones).  There is no required testing for drugs in our water supply, so it is difficult to know exactly what is present and in what amounts, but researchers regularly find the above-listed minerals and chemicals in our water.

Chlorine

Chlorine bleach (in the form of chlorine dioxide) is added to almost all of America’s public water supply as a disinfectant.  This practice began in the early 1900s, when the dangers and long-term effects of chlorine weren’t known, but the practice has continued because it is cheap.    It is not safe, however.  One of the things that chlorine does is neutralize oxygen.  In essence, this means that once it’s inside the body—whether it’s our pet’s body or ours—it depletes the body’s oxygen, which in turn makes the body’s pH levels more acidic.  This disrupts the immune system, which as you know can throw the whole system out of balance and lead to various illnesses and diseases, and cause more allergy symptoms.   It’s interesting to note that water that occurs in nature actually contains small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, which moves the body’s pH to more basic levels.  Natural water was intended to help support the correct oxygen levels and pH balance in our dogs’ and cats’ bodies, as well as ours, and therefore support the immune system.

The ill-effects of chlorine don’t end there.  When chlorine products come into contact with organic proteins, they produce byproducts called trihalomethanes (THMs).  One example of a THM is chloroform, which is a carcinogenic.  In fact, studies have shown an association between THMs and cancers of the liver, kidneys; they have also been shown to be contributing factors in colon and bladder cancers, diabetes, and kidney stones.  Chlorine also damages enzymes, which means that when it is ingested (through the water), it causes further havoc to the immune system.  It can also decrease absorption of calcium while increasing calcium and phosphorous excretion.

Fluoride

Fluoride is also added to the water supply all across America, under the guise that it is good for dental health.  However, there has been a large amount of evidence that shows fluoride to be a bio-accumulative poison when ingested.  The EPA actually classifies fluoride as a toxic waste product (it comes from aluminum processing, uranium processing, and the manufacture of fertilizer), but it is still added to water supplies.  Fluoride is actually used in pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides, as well as being the main ingredient in many rat poisons.  It is worth noting that fluoride is cumulative in its effect upon the body, so each time you or your pet drink fluoridated water, its effects increase.  Some of the most common known effects of fluoride ingestion include cancer, brittle teeth, heart disease, and arthritis.

Other toxins

There is much more in our public water supply than just chlorine and fluoride.  It is interesting to look at a list (in alphabetical order) of the top 100 most common toxins found in the US public water supply:

Top 100 Common U.S. Water Toxins

1) 1,1,1,2-Tetrachloroethane
2) 1,1,2-Trichloroethane
3) 1,1-Dichloroethane
4) 1,1-Dichloropropene
5) 1,2 Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP)
6) 1,2,3-Trichloropropane
7) 1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene
8) 1,2-Dibromoethylene
9) 1,2-Dichloroethane
10) 1,3,5-Trimethylbenzene
11) 1,3-Dichloropropane
12) 1,4-Dioxane
13) 2,2-Dichloropropane
14) 2,4,5-T
15) 2,4,5-TP (Silvex)
16) 2,4-D
17) 2-Hexanone
18) 2-Nitropropane
19) Acetochlor
20) Aldicarb
21) Aldicarb sulfone
22) Aldicarb sulfoxide
23) Alpha-Lindane
24) Aluminum
25) Ammonia
26) Aniline
27) Anthracene
28) Antimony
29) Arsenic
30) Atrazine
31) Barium
32) Benzene
33) Benzo[a]pyrene
34) Beryllium
35) Bromate
36) Bromide
37) Bromobenzene
38) Bromodichloromethane
39) Bromoform
40) Bromomethane
41) Cadmium (total)
42) Carbaryl
43) Carbon tetrachloride
44) Chloroethane
45) Chloroform
46) Chloromethane
47) Chromium
48) cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene
49) Cyanide
50) Dalapon
51) Di(2-Ethylhexyl) adipate
52) Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
53) Dibromochloromethane
54) Dibromomethane
55) Dicamba
56) Dichlorodifluoromethane
57) Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)
58) Dieldrin
59) Dinoseb
60) Endrin
61) Ethylbenzene
62) Ethylene dibromide (EDB)
63) Heptachlor
64) Heptachlor epoxide
65) Hexachloro-cyclopentadiene
66) Isopropylbenzene
67) Lindane
68) m-Dichlorobenzene
69) Manganese
70) Mercury
71) Metolachlor
72) Monochlorobenzene (Chlorobenzene)
73) n-Butylbenzene
74) n-Propylbenzene
75) Naphthalene
76) Nitrate
77) Nitrates & nitrites
78) o-Chlorotoluene
79) o-Dichlorobenzene
80) Oxamyl (Vydate)
81) p-Chlorotoluene
82) p-Dichlorobenzene
83) p-Isopropyltoluene
84) Pentachlorophenol
85) Picloram
86) Radium-226 & Radium-228
87) sec-Butylbenzene
88) Simazine
89) Styrene
90) Sulfates
91) tert-Butylbenzene
92) Tetrachloroethylene
93) Thallium
94) Toluene
95) Total haloacetic acids
96) Total trihalomethanes (THMs)
97) Toxaphene
98) Trichloroethylene
99) Trichlorofluoromethane
100) Vinyl chloride

What to do?

So how do you make sure that you are providing your pets with clean, pure water?  The best way to do this is to provide them with filtered water.  Unfortunately, not all filters are created equal, nor are all bottled waters truly pure.  Many are actually just tap water that has been bottled, and some of them contain fluoride and various minerals.  Check the label to see if chlorine or fluoride has been added back in.  Also, note that Brita water filters often do not completely remove chlorine and fluoride.  Reverse osmosis filtration systems and the Berkey filter (with the optional fluoride filters) are good alternatives.  They are more expensive, but if you are able to get them, they are a good option.  You can also get bottled spring water that is in a safe plastic bottle; well water is also a great option if you have access to a well.

If you haven’t already, invest in a stainless steel bowl for your pets to drink out of.  Just like with their food dishes, plastic bowls can harbor bacteria and leach chemicals out.  Make sure that you clean and refill the water dish daily, or whenever it gets low.

Clean, pure water makes a big difference!

It is vitally important that you provide your pets with clean, pure water.  Doing so helps keep all of their systems, including their immune system, healthy.  It supports their bodies in maintaining balance and health, and may even encourage them to drink more.  Following this principle is part of the total approach to helping your pets achieve and maintain true, lasting health, so that they can thrive throughout all your years together.

Advertisements

You’ve gotta start somewhere

dreamstime copyright Debra Tosca

“If you don’t start somewhere, you’re never going to get anywhere.” -Bob Marley

I recently came across this wonderful quote, and my eyes lit up.  The truth in this quote is profound and, at the same time, so extraordinarily simple.  It’s similar to the quote “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” but I like it even more because it puts the action—and the responsibility—right smack dab on the person who wants to get somewhere.

Taking accountability

In naturopathy, we understand and teach that each person is responsible for their own health, their own life, and their own decisions.  This responsibility flows down to being responsible for your own pet’s (or pets’) lives and health as well.  So often, as we’ve discussed before, we put the responsibility for our pet’s health on someone else—a veterinarian, for example—but there is no way that they can know our pets better than we ourselves do.  And since ultimately it is the body that must heal itself, by balancing and strengthening itself throughout that individual’s life, the daily decisions we make about what our pets eat, what sort of water they drink, the exercise they get, how and where they sleep, and the mental and emotional state that they live in and around are truly what lend to vitality or the loss of such.

Balance in all things

But as with everything, there is a balance in naturopathy.  So, although we are responsible for our pet’s welfare, nature also allows us to support them in achieving optimal wellness over time.  That balance over time is vital, and when we truly understand it, we see that it lets us release the fear and resulting paralysis that often accompany changing what we’ve “always done” for something new.  All naturopathy asks is that you start somewhere.

dreamstime copyright Vmorfield

Take a breath…and then take action

When we really start thinking about the list of things that we can and should do to improve our pet’s vitality, it can get so overwhelming.  Changing the diet, removing toxins in the house and yard, changing the exercise routine, changing the water, figuring out what supplements might be needed (if any), and doing this every day can be intense.  And, of course, you must pay attention to your pet’s needs, because what they need one day may be different from what they need another day.  Take, for example, how much you feed.  You may feed them a certain amount (a pound, for example) each day, and then after a few months, notice that they are gaining a bit of weight.  So you must adjust.  And then, after a month or so, you may notice that they are losing some weight.  So you adjust again.  It’s not cut and dry.  It requires attention.  And paying attention to our pets like this is something that many of us are out of the habit of doing.  But it is required, for optimal vitality.  So, we start somewhere.  I myself started with changing the diet.  Once I was comfortable with that, I started turning my attention to eliminating the toxins.  We already had a decent exercise routine, but I also addressed the water (making sure that they got clean, pure, filtered water, so I wasn’t exposing them to the chemicals routinely introduced to tap water throughout so much America).  My personality is such that when I make a decision, I tend to move quickly, so I made these transitions in a relatively short amount of time, but I still did them step-by-step.  It was too much to try and do all at once.  Another woman that I know and respect told me recently that she started by removing pesticides from her dogs’ environment.  She then addressed the food and the rest of it.  Again, it was done in stages, at a pace that she was comfortable with and able to sustain.

Just keep moving

My point is that, when it comes to changing how you’ve been doing something, no matter how excited you are about it, it can be overwhelming.  We’ve all been there, whether it be about our pet’s lifestyle or something else.  It’s fine to take your time when changing everything—do things as you can do them, and eventually you’ll get there.  If you need help, help is available.  For example, if you’re looking for help with switching your pet to a diet that’s appropriate for their particular species, you can find a certified animal naturopath to assist.  If you’re looking for help removing toxins from your home, you can find lots of great alternatives on the internet, or talk to a certified animal naturopath.  You can also just start making the changes yourself, one at a time, as you are able.  I don’t know anyone who has changed every single thing in a single day.  Obviously, the changes you see will depend on how quickly you start your pet on a regimen designed for optimal wellness, but doing something—anything—will help.  What’s truly important, as Bob Marley says, is that you start somewhere.  It tends to have a snowball effect, because once you gain confidence, you tend to move at a faster pace.  But what’s truly important isn’t the pace at which you move, it’s that you’re moving at all.  So start somewhere—start anywhere.  Your pet will be all the better for it.

The surprising benefits of green tripe

dreamstime copyright Mikel Martinez de OsabaOften, people ask me if there is any particular food I recommend most for species-appropriate diets.  While I always advocate variety—various protein sources, such as chicken, beef, pork, turkey, sheep, and so on—I do also highly recommend feeding green tripe to carnivore pets regularly.

What is green tripe, you ask?  Tripe is another name for the stomach of ruminating animals, such as cattle, sheep, and goats.  You may have seen bleached, processed tripe at the grocery store, but when you are feeding tripe to your carnivore pets, use green tripe, which is the raw, unbleached tripe.  Once the tripe is processed and bleached, it has almost no nutritional value whatsoever, but green tripe has a myriad of benefits.  Interestingly, green tripe is more brown than green, but it often has a greenish tint from the hay or grass that the animal was digesting.  And, because this vegetation has already been broken down and digested by the herbivore, it does not stress the carnivore’s body to consume it.

dreamstime copyright loshadenokWhen we look at the nutritional analysis of green tripe, we see that the ratio of calcium to phosphorous is about 1:1, which is exactly what our dogs need.  And, the calcium and phosphorous are also bioavailable to your dog, which means that they can use all of the calcium and phosphorous supplied by the green tripe.  Additionally, green tripe’s overall pH is 6.84, which is slightly acidic and good for digestion.  Green tripe contains iron, potassium, zinc, and selenium, along with several other important nutrients.  It also contains a large amount of Lactobacillus Acidophilus (probiotic).  Green tripe contains the right proportions of Linoleic and Linolenic, which are essential fatty acids (meaning that your dog can’t make their own, but must get them from their food).  Green tripe also contains digestive enzymes and amino acids, both of which are vital to supporting the health and vitality of our carnivore pets.

Like anything else you feed your pet, make sure the green tripe you feed is from organic and pasture-raised ruminants that are hormone and antibiotic-free.  This helps ensure that your pet gets the most nutrient-rich tripe available, and that they don’t take in anything that will cause their immune system problems.

A quick note: tripe has a fairly strong smell, so you may want to store and thaw it outside, or in an airtight container if you have to put it in your refrigerator.

Bottom line? Add green tripe into the rotation of meats you feed your carnivore pet; its nutritional value is excellent, and the probiotics, digestive enzymes, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients it contains will greatly benefit your pet. basenji dreamstime copyright Yurikr

Help for a finicky feline eater…

dreamstime copyright Riccardo Nicola ZiglioHave you ever seen your cat pull food out of their bowl (if you use one), dump it next to the bowl, and then—and only then—eat it…leaving food bits and debris scattered in a big mess all over?  Or seen them eat just a small amount of food off the top of the bowl (or drink just a bit of water), and then beg for more, completely ignoring all the food that’s still in their bowl?  Why do they do this?  Are they being prima donnas?  Or is there more to it than that?

Turns out, there is a valid reason as to why your cat might be doing this, and it’s not to make your life more difficult.  It’s called whisker stress, and it has to do with—you guessed it—those sensitive, extraordinary whiskers.

daiquiri 6To really understand whisker stress, let’s take a look at your cat’s whiskers.  Whiskers—in all mammals, not just cats—provide additional information about the objects with which the animal comes into contact.  Many animals’ whiskers are so finely tuned that they can even give information about air movement.  They help enhance the animal’s senses, particularly it’s short-distance vision.  Because they are so rich in blood vessels and nerve endings, they are extraordinarily sensitive.  And, because they give so much information about nearby objects and air movement, they also help cats and other mammals navigate through their surroundings.

Each whisker—and cats typically have between 8 and 12 on each side of their face, as well as shorter whiskers on their chins, above their eyes, and even on their legs—is essentially set up to transmit information about pressure that is applied along the whisker to the base, which contains the follicle and receptors.  And, the tip of each whisker has proprioceptors, which are sensory organs that are very sensitive to pressure.  These proprioceptors are incredibly sensitive to the slightest pressure.  Cats can use their whiskers to determine how far away an object is, where it’s located, and—quite amazingly—even the texture of the object.

So what does all this have to do with your cat’s meal-time habits?  Well, because the proprioceptors are so incredibly sensitive, it can actually be very painful for your cat to eat or drink out of a bowl that so narrow that their whiskers touch the side of the bowl.  Some cats will actually use their paws to scoop food out of their bowl, and others will only eat off of the very top.  In some instances, you may notice that your cat, while clearly hungry, seems reluctant to eat.  They may meow at the bowl, even if there is food in it, pace around the bowl, or stand by it for a time before eating.  In all of these examples, they are trying to avoid having to cram their sensitive whiskers in to the bowl, which is very uncomfortable for them.

To give you an idea of how sensitive a cat’s whiskers are: if a single whisker moves 1/200th of the width of a human hair, it sends a signal to their brain.  Now, picture how intense of a signal it must be if they have to cram their whole face into a bowl, smashing their whiskers up against the side while trying to eat.  Their whiskers have evolved to give them information about their environment and make sure that, for example, they are able to navigate through narrow spaces safely, and if the bowl is too small, those same whiskers would constantly send signals to their brain that the space is too narrow and they need to stop trying to fit their heads in there.

dreamstime copyright Vitaliy MaselkoSo what can you do if your cat is experiencing whisker stress?  Luckily, the fix is relatively simple.  You can feed them using a bowl that takes their whiskers into account.  The bowl should be wide enough and shallow enough that their whiskers don’t touch the sides, even if they put their whole heads in to get at food on the very bottom.  You can use a shallow plate or saucer, or you can purchase a bowl specifically designed to relieve whisker stress.  Some good options are Dr. Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Relief (https://drcatsby.com) or Trendy Pet’s Whisker Free Stress raised bowl (www.trendypet.com/products/whisker-free-stress).  (Note that I have no affiliation with either company and receive no monetary compensation for mentioning them here.)Gryph pic rotated

Whether you decide to buy a bowl specifically designed to relieve whisker stress, or if you just choose to feed your cat using a wide, shallow plate or saucer, their mealtimes will be much more comfortable and more enjoyable if you make sure to feed them using an appropriately sized and shaped dish.  Their whiskers are extraordinary tools, but they can also cause them some stress if they are fed out of a bowl that is the wrong size or shape.  The good news is that the fix is easy and inexpensive, and it can have a profound impact on how much your cat enjoys their meals—and cut down on the mess you have to clean up too!

Cleo

Cleo, our Canaan dog, turned 18 years old at the beginning of the month.  That is almost unheard of these days, especially for medium and large-size dogs (she’s about 35 pounds).  What’s even more phenomenal is that, before we switched her to a species-appropriate diet, she was very frail, in constant pain, and grumpy (because of the pain).  Whenever another dog would get close to her, she would react by growling and biting at them.  If we took her for a walk or a hike, she was noticeably stiff and sore the next day.  So many of our senior dogs have joint pain and arthritis, and Cleo was no exception.

Things are different now.  Once we put Cleo on a species-appropriate diet, she did a complete turnaround.  Her pain and stiffness lessened considerably, she was able to go on hikes and walks with us, she was much calmer and more patient with other dogs, and her energy level increased.  She got stronger, and her body shape began to change–she gained some lean muscle and got much stronger.

IMG_0180

The change in diet was so profound that, to see her today (especially at meal time), you could easily believe that she’s only 7 or 8 years old.  As soon as she smells food, she is front and center to make sure she’s part of the preparation process.  When it’s time to carry the food out to where we feed the dogs, she races ahead, leaping out of the dog door (seriously–she gets airborne) and spinning in circles until we get the food down.  This is an 18-year-old dog, and she acts like a dog 1/3 her age.

She went through a bout recently where she wasn’t feeling well, but she has since rallied (again, with the help of an appropriate diet) and is back to her spunky, beautiful self.

IMG_0179

 

 

I share this story here to show the power of a species-appropriate diet.  No matter how old your dog or cat is, what health they are in, what breed they are, or what their activity level is, proper nutrition–a species-appropriate diet–is the cornerstone of optimal health.  Whenever someone asks me what my number 1 recommendation is to help improve their pet’s well-being and make sure they thrive at an optimal level for years and years, my answer is always the same: get them on a species-appropriate diet.

IMG_0204

We’ll explore more about feeding and nutrition in posts to come, and you can take a look at what a species-appropriate diet is and how to feed it in the April/May 2015 issue of Raw Pet Digest.  To access the issue, click here.

If you have your dog or cat on a species-appropriate diet, we’d love to hear your comments about what changes you’ve seen in them and what benefits you’ve experienced.  We’d also love to hear why you decided to switch them to a species-appropriate diet in the first place.  Leave us a comment below!

 

The 8 laws of health

Much of what we will talk about in this blog (and in the Raw Pet Digest magazine) is related to naturopathy and its principles.  So, I wanted to share some basic information about naturopathy here, so you have a solid foundation on which to build moving forward.  Naturopathy is a powerful way of supporting the body to heal itself naturally.  At its foundation, naturopathy relies on proper nutrition to achieve true wellness.  However, nutrition alone does not give the body enough to heal itself and maintain balance.  Besides nutrition, there are seven other laws of health that must be adhered to for complete wellness.  Each law is vital and must be followed; failure to do so means that eventually the body will be thrown out of balance and dis-ease will occur.

By following the eight laws of health, all living beings can remain in balance and thereby prevent or cure dis-ease.  This holds true for carnivores, such as dogs, cats, and ferrets; herbivores, such as horses; and omnivores, such as people.  Of course, while this concept is simple, it does not necessarily follow that it is “easy,” especially since over time we have been conditioned to do what is convenient instead of what is right.  We have also been led to believe that those in authority (such as vets and doctors) possess accurate knowledge and are somehow omnipotent forces to which we should surrender all authority.  We have been told that health care (which, in our modern-day world, is more accurately labeled disease care), whether it is for ourselves or our pets, means addressing and suppressing symptoms instead of viewing the individual as a whole—mind/body/spirit.  Embracing the naturopathic path means taking responsibility for our own animal’s lives, along with our own lives, instead of surrendering that responsibility to someone else.  It means taking a truly holistic approach towards caring for our animals and ourselves.  The eight laws of health guide us in all of these things, though, and allow us to approach health care organically, holistically, and naturally, while retaining our own power and letting go of our fear.

Nutrition, which is the first law of health, is at the core of naturopathy.  Broadly defined, nutrition as it relates to this law means species-appropriate food in the appropriate quantities.  This means that carnivores must be fed a diet appropriate to a meat eater, while herbivores must eat the appropriate plants.  Omnivores, of course, can eat a mix of things, but they too should eat the foods that nature intended, such as whole, unprocessed foods.  In the last hundred years or so, however, pet food companies have managed to convince us that the correct diet to feed our animals are processed, biologically inappropriate foods; this goes for both our carnivores and herbivores.  Unfortunately, these processed, biologically inappropriate foods throw our animals’ bodies out of balance and lead to acute conditions which, if allowed to continue, will eventually become full-blown chronic illnesses.  Take a bag of dog kibble, for example.  When the dog eats the kibble, its body perceives the kibble as a foreign invader and moves to attack it.  That it does this should come as no surprise; 80% of the body’s immune system is in the gut.  When the immune system is healthy, energy (electricity) flows freely and the body is balanced.  The kibble, though, has little to no electrical frequency/energy.  It is essentially made up of some combination of “4-D” animals (dead, diseased, dying, disabled), fillers, and often grains (which are essentially poor quality chaff).  These are then cooked at very high temperatures and synthetic vitamins and minerals are added back in (often with other synthetic materials, depending on the brand).  The kibble can cause a flood of basophils, which then release chemicals like histamines.  This can result in symptoms such as itching, vomiting, and diarrhea—to say nothing of the fact that the dog could not get the nutrients it has evolved to need. This means that in addition to its body spending energy attacking what it perceives as a threat, the dog’s essential energy is not replenished.  If this continues, the body’s acute reaction can become a chronic condition.

The second law of health is exercise.  All animals must have appropriate exercise, both for their species and for themselves as individuals.  Horses, for example, were designed to be able to move fast when necessary to escape from predators.  This means that, unlike cows, horses are “trickle feeders” that continuously eat small amounts over long periods of time.  They evolved that way so they aren’t bogged down with lots of heavy food in their stomachs at any one time.  This means that, in order to thrive, they must constantly move as they graze and forage.  They constantly eat small amounts while standing and moving, in general between 14 and 16 hours per day.  This constant movement, interspersed with periods of intense effort (running and playing) keeps their lymph systems healthy, their blood pumping properly, and their feet at the appropriate length.  Dogs and cats must also exercise, although unlike horses they do not tend to move constantly for hours at a time.  They must have intense exercise (taking into account, of course, their age, condition, and any other factors, such as whether or not they are currently recovering from some sort of dis-ease).  This exercise (such as a good run) pumps their lymph nodes, much as the heart pumps the blood, and also keeps them from becoming obese.  And it ensures that they burn excess energy that otherwise might come out in very inconvenient ways (anyone who has dealt with a cat pouncing on their feet and biting their toes while they’re trying to sleep, or had their dog chew up the furniture while they’re away, can attest to this!).

All animals, of course, need pure, clean water.  In this day and age, that means filtered water that is free of chlorine and fluoride.  Making sure that animals have access to pure water at all times is essential, for without this pure water, their bodies cannot function properly.  Like us, our animals are about 70% water, and they must be able to maintain that level for all systems to function properly.  If we look at it even more closely, we find that blood is 83% water, muscles are 75% water, the brain is 95% water, and the lungs are 90% water.  Clearly, water is critical, both to maintain and cleanse the body.

Sunlight, which is one aspect of the fourth law of health, is critically important.  Of course, as we will see later, all things must be done in moderation, so it is not beneficial for either our animals or us to go out and bake in the sun for hours at a time.  However, animals have an innate sense of how much sunlight they need.  By giving them access to sunshine and letting them decide how long to stay in the sun, they will ensure they get enough sun.  My own dogs regularly go outside and sun themselves daily, even when it’s 100°F or more, but often it’s only for 10 minutes or so at a time.  Then they move to the shade or come back inside, before going back into the sun a little while later.  Because they innately know to practice moderation when it comes to time spent in the sun, they don’t get sunburned, but they do get the benefits of sunshine.

The other aspect of the fourth law of health is supplements.  It is important to realize that most animals have had some sort of damage done because their owners have not followed the eight laws of health.  Therefore, a species-appropriate diet and supplements help repair the damage that has been done.  Some examples of supplements are probiotics, enzymes, and colostrum.  Probiotics and enzymes are especially critical when switching carnivores from a kibble diet to a raw diet.  Many of our carnivore pet’s enzymes, vitamins, and minerals have been depleted by their diet, and often they are further reduced by the toxic vaccines and other “preventatives” (such as flea and tick medicines and heartworm pills) we give them as a matter of course.  Even after switching to a raw diet, though, supplements may still be needed.  Because so much of our soil has been depleted through improper management, the herbivores that graze on the soil are also depleted, which means that the carnivores are depleted when they eat them.

Temperance, or moderation, is the next law of health.  This comes into play in so many areas of naturopathy and health care.  When I think of this law, it reminds me to slow down and be ok with taking things a step at a time.  Nature works over the course of time, and as long as balance is achieved over time, a perfect formula does not have to be followed each and every day.  Follow moderation with feeding: feed your pets the correct amount of food for their species and as individuals.  Overfeeding, even if your pets are on a SARF (species-appropriate raw food) diet, can lead to obesity.  It’s also important to feed the right things in moderation.  For example, while bones are very important for carnivores, just eating bones without moderating them with other foods will lead to an imbalance, just as only eating meat without the bones will lead to an imbalance.  Temperance reminds us to maintain a balance in everything we do, which in turn maintains health.

Giving our animals access to fresh air is the sixth law of health.  Hopefully, by letting them have an appropriate amount of sunlight and exercising them appropriately each day, they will get lots of fresh air, but it is important to keep fresh air moving as much as possible throughout the day, for our sakes and theirs.  This means opening up the house or office, if possible, even if you only open the windows a small amount because of the weather.  This will keep everything fresh and will also help mentally and emotionally.  Making sure that we, along with our pets, get plenty of fresh air, is one of the things that truly nurtures the mind, body, and spirit.

One of the biggest examples of rest (seventh law of health) for our animals is fasting.  Fasting reduces inflammation and is a form of healing.  Fasting, which is done by animals in the wild, gives the body a break from the duties of digestion.  When the body is sick, it must focus on healing—it cannot heal and digest at the same time.  When fasting, the body detoxes by digesting morbid matter and pushing it out.  You can fast your dogs by feeding them once per day and/or skipping feeding them for one day.  And of course, on their rest day, you don’t need to exercise them intensely (remember the fifth law of health: all things in moderation!)—just let them rest.

The eighth and final law of health is trust.  Just like each of the other laws, this one is critically important.  Naturopathy is slow to work, and if you do not have trust in the process, you will not stay the course.  As I mentioned above, we have been conditioned to believe that our vets know more than we do about how to properly care for our animals.  However, what vets do, most of the time, is disease care, not health care.  They suppress symptoms instead of healing the root problem.  Naturopathy, on the other hand, allows the body to cure itself, which can be a long, slow process.  It can involve a healing response (also sometimes called a healing crisis.  For more information about the healing response, see the April/May 2015 issue of Raw Pet Digest).  If you begin to fear that the process is not working or try to suppress the symptoms of the healing response, the process will be halted and healing won’t take place.  It is vitally important to remember this law and trust the process rather than going back to conventional medicine.

The role of mind/body/spirit cannot be overlooked in any discussion about naturopathy.  While conventional medicine takes a mechanistic and reductionist view of health and the body, naturopathy looks at the individual holistically.  When the mind and spirit are depressed, the immune system (which is innate and throughout the whole organism) is also depressed, and therefore not operating at full efficiency.  On the other hand, when the mind and spirit are happy and light, energy flows more freely throughout the whole individual.  Everything is connected.  As Caroline Myss (1996) says in her book Anatomy of the Spirit:

As neurobiologist Dr. Candace Pert has proven, neuropeptides—the chemicals triggered by emotions—are thoughts converted into matter.  Our emotions reside physically in our bodies and interact with our cells and tissues.  In fact, Dr. Pert can no longer separate the mind from the body, she says, because the same kinds of cells that manufacture and receive emotional chemistry in the brain are present throughout the body.[i]

Myss (1996) goes on to quote Dr. Pert as saying “Clearly, there’s another form of energy that we have not yet understood.  For example, there’s a form of energy that appears to leave the body when the body dies…Your mind is in every cell of your body”[ii].  Our animals pick up on our energy and often take our emotions into themselves, so if you feel negative about the healing response your dog is experiencing, for example, or if you are worried about your cat’s sickness, the emotion becomes a part of the animal’s being as well; this depresses their immune system and makes it more difficult for their bodies to handle it.  Therefore, it is really important to stay positive.  The added bonus is that staying positive will have a beneficial effect on your own health as well as your animal!

At its essence, naturopathy is about supporting the mind/body/spirit to come back to and maintain balance.  Naturopathy uses nutrition as the foundation for this, but as we have seen, every one of the eight laws of health is critical to keeping the body in balance.  To truly support our animals on their path to true, sustained health, we must look at the mind/body/spirit connection and treat them holistically, rather than working to suppress symptoms and looking at the body from a mechanistic and reductionist viewpoint.  And, just as importantly, we must remember that every individual, whether that individual is a human or an animal, possesses the innate ability to heal him or herself.

 

[i] Myss, C. (1996). Anatomy of the Spirit. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press., pg 35

 

[ii] Myss, C. (1996). Anatomy of the Spirit. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press., pg 35

 

Simple switches

We all know that there are lots of things you can do to help your dog or cat maintain an optimal level and thrive.  In Raw Pet Digest, we discuss lots of different ways to help improve your pet’s health naturally.  Some of these things might involve big changes—changing from a kibble diet to a species-appropriate diet, for example.  But there are also some quick, easy things you can do to help improve your pet’s health, that take very little time or effort on your part. Here, we go over some of those simple switches, and the best part is, you can start implementing these changes right away.  Just like everything else we talk about in Raw Pet Digest, these simple, easy changes will help your pet thrive naturally.  This article originally appeared in the April/May 2016 issue of Raw Pet Digest.

Be sure to subscribe to Raw Pet Digest for lots of great information on how to help your dog or cat thrive naturally.  A full year subscription is only $15 US, and each issue is packed with lots of great information.  You can go to http://www.rawpetdigest.com for information on how to subscribe, or email me at kristin@rawpetdigest.com.  Enjoy the article about simple switches!

Daily brushing

Whether your pet is long-haired or short-haired, they will benefit from regular, daily brushing.  This is true whether it is “shedding season” or not.  Brushing your dog or cat regularly helps remove dead hair, distribute the natural oils on the skin and the coat, and give you a chance to check for any scrapes, lumps, or bumps that your pet might have.  It also deepens your bond with your pet, and is an incredibly relaxing activity to engage in when you’ve had a stressful day.  A few minutes of brushing each day also helps you to get really in-tune with your pet’s body, which makes it easier to identify any abnormalities quickly.  And, it helps ensure that your pet is used to being handled on all parts of their body, which can come in handy in a wide variety of situations.  If you’re curious about the best brush to use on your pet, take a look at the “Natural Grooming” article by Bre Altherr in the February/March 2016 issue of Raw Pet Digest.  So, if you don’t already, start brushing your dog or cat regularly.  They will look better and feel healthier, and taking a few minutes each day to really focus on your pet and let the stresses of the day fade into the background might help you feel more balanced and happy too.

Healthy, species-appropriate treats

Lots of people regularly tell me that they give their dogs and cats treats.  If you love to give your pet treats, making sure you’re giving healthy treats is an easy way to help support your pet in their journey towards achieving and maintaining optimal health.  If you are currently giving your pet store-bought treats (such as dog biscuits or cat treats), vegetables and/or fruit (and this includes things like canned pumpkin), peanut butter, French fries, or other processed food, you have a great opportunity to start giving healthy, species-appropriate treats that will help support your pet in being the healthiest they can be.  Many store-bought treats (for dogs and cats) are processed, can be harmful, and do not support the health of your pet.  Our carnivore pets are not designed to eat fruits and veggies, and they can cause major problems.  Peanut butter, French fries, and other processed food are also not species-appropriate, and they can cause problems as well.  If you like to feed treats to your pet, choose something that is species-appropriate, like whole frozen sardines, chicken feet, liver (freeze-dried is fine), and so on.  You can take a look at the articles “Healthy Treats for Cats” and “Healthy Treats for Dogs” in the June/July 2015 issue of Raw Pet Digest for more information.  There are lots of healthy options out there that will be a source of health, energy, and balance for your pet, so make the simple switch to giving healthy, species-appropriate treats.

Get that air flowing

Many of us spend the majority of our time inside, and so do our pets.  While it is important for us and our pets to get outside and get exercise, sunshine, and fresh air every day, it is also a really great idea to give fresh air a chance to circulate inside too.  In our house, we keep at least one window open a little bit all the time (only closing it when it’s raining heavily).  And, anytime the weather is nice, we open up all the windows and let the house air out.  Even if the weather isn’t perfect, keeping that window open a bit allows fresh air to come in and stale air to go out.  We haven’t had an increase in our energy bills because of this, and we and our pets get the benefit of fresh air in our house almost all the time.  Like I mention in the article “The Importance of Fresh Air” in the February/March 2016 issue of Raw Pet Digest, studies have shown that breathing fresh air can promote relaxation, increase feelings of happiness, and decrease stress.  Making sure that you have fresh air coming into your house all the time is an easy, inexpensive switch you can make right away to help your pets, your family, and yourself be more balanced, happier, and healthier.

Clean, pure water

In the August/September 2015 issue of Raw Pet Digest, we talked about the importance of clean, pure water (drinking pure, clean water also happens to be the third law of health).  In most places, the tap water is not clean and pure—as I describe in the article, researchers regularly find that the tap water in most places in America has chlorine, fluoride, chlorides, sulfates, bicarbonates, aluminum, nitrates, insecticides, herbicides, and even prescription medications (including antibiotics and hormones), along with lots of other substances that you don’t want going into your body or your pet’s body.  So what can you do?  Switch from drinking tap water to drinking filtered water, and make sure that you give your pet filtered water too.  When it is clean and pure, water can help to support the natural oxygen levels and pH balance in our pets’ bodies, which ultimately supports the immune system and your pet’s ability to thrive.

Give indoor cats a way to get outside

Ok, this tip is species-specific, but it’s still important.  Many indoor cats never get to go outside to get all the benefits (for example, sunshine, fresh air, and mental stimulation) that being outside provides.  If you have an indoor cat (and our cat, Gryphon, falls into this category), you can still give them the benefits of being outside without sacrificing their safety.  You can get them a harness and leash, and take them out for safe “walks,” or you can get an enclosure that will give them a safe place to hang out in for an hour or two each day.  Gryphon has a pen that we got on Amazon for about $40 that is designed as a rabbit enclosure.  It was inexpensive, easy to set up, and it is portable and collapsible if we ever need to move it.  It is easy to put Gryphon in there and leave him outside, knowing that he is safe from cars, other cats, dogs, and anything else that might be a danger to him.  He gets to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air every day (unless the weather is bad, of course).  This simple switch has resulted in a much happier, calmer, and relaxed cat.  He loves going outside, and I love knowing that he’s safe while he’s out there.

Cut down on the toxins in your home

The cleaning products and air fresheners that lots of use contain toxic chemicals that can have profound negative impacts on our pets.  For an in-depth look at the topic, take a look at the article “Hidden Toxins, Safer Alternatives” by Carole Milligan in the August/September 2015 issue of Raw Pet Digest.  While it can take some time to clear out all the toxic cleaners from your home, you can start the process by taking a look at ewg.org.  This website is an incredibly helpful tool that can help you find better alternatives to toxic cleaners.  As the website says, “EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning is an online safety guide for household cleaning products, launched in 2012 to help people find safer products that fully disclose their ingredients and contain fewer ingredients that are hazardous or that haven’t been thoroughly tested. The database combines product ingredient lists gleaned from product labels, company websites and worker safety documents with information in more than 16 standard toxicity databases and extensive searches of peer-reviewed scientific literature. The database provides easy-to-navigate safety ratings for more than 2,000 cleaning products.”  You can look up products in lots of different categories; it is an excellent guide when you are looking for better, safer products for your home.

Another simple change you can make is to stop using air fresheners and scented candles in your house, and switch to diffusing essential oils.  Air fresheners can cause changes in blood pressure and mood, and they can also trigger migraine headaches.  Our pets are just as susceptible to the harmful effects of air fresheners and scented candles.  By switching to essential oils (make sure that the essential oils you use are organic and have not been distilled with chemicals), you can keep your home smelling nice while at the same time providing a natural modality to help support, maintain, and balance your pet’s body (as well as, of course, you and your family’s bodies).  Take a look at the articles “Introduction to Essential Oils” and “Building Your Essential Oil Kit” (both are in the June/July 2015 issue of Raw Pet Digest) for more information.

Harnesses vs collars

If you have a dog that pulls when you’re out on a walk, you might want to consider switching from a collar to a harness.  There is evidence to suggest that collars can cause damage to the thyroid gland, which can lead to hypothyroidism (which may show up as weight gain, hair loss, skin problems, or other issues); lameness; neck injuries; and injuries to the spine.  When your dog pulls while wearing a collar, it can also restrict the blood, and even the lymph, from flowing optimally to and from the head.  This can cause problems with the ears and eyes.  Switching your dog to a harness, particularly a front-clip harness, can help reduce the issues that dogs that are pullers experience.  Your dog may also benefit from chiropractic treatment to help make sure that their neck and spine is healthy and properly aligned.  For more information about chiropractic for your pet, see the article “Animal Chiropractic Care” by Dr. Erin O’Connor in the August/September 2015 issue of Raw Pet Digest.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the many things you can do to help your pet live an optimal, quality life.  These are all simple, easy switches that you can start to implement right away in your house.  You don’t have to do them all at once—if it’s easier, you can try making one simple switch each week.  You and your pets will both benefit, and each positive change you make will help support your pet in becoming the very healthiest it can.  Remember, every change you make has an impact, so no matter where you are in your journey to support your pet naturally, implementing these can have a huge effect on your pet, mind, body, and spirit.

Welcome to the Raw Pet Digest blog

We all love our pets.  Without question, that is a fact.  They share our homes, our lives, and our hearts.  And all of us want the very best for our pets.  We want them to have the best quality of life and of course, the longest life possible.  But sometimes it can get a little confusing to figure out the best way to achieve this.  And so, I started the online magazine Raw Pet Digest with one simple goal: to help empower you with the knowledge and information you need to give your pets the best and longest life possible.  The magazine aims to provide you with clear, concise information about how to feed your pets what they need to thrive, how to help them feel their best naturally, and how to support them in maintaining optimal health of mind, soundness of body, and fulfillment of spirit.  Each issue will strive to bring you valuable information ranging from (among other things) nutrition, to herbs and essential oils, to features about the mind/body/spirit connection and the role it plays in health.  Raw Pet Digest is a magazine that embraces the truth and will deliver clear explanations for all of the facts presented within.

The magazine is published every two months, but this blog will be published on a weekly basis.  We will share sneak peeks of upcoming articles, parts of previous articles, helpful tips, and even pictures!  And, we would love to share stories that you, fellow pet parents and lovers, share with us, about the ways you help to support your pet(s) naturally!

Helping to empower you to support your pets so they can thrive is my passion!  I am certified by the American Council of Animal Naturopathy as a Carnivore Nutrition Consultant and a Small Animal Naturopath.  I am also a member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.  And, perhaps most importantly, I have 4 dogs and a cat of my own.  Our oldest dog just celebrated her 18th birthday on April 1, 2016, and even though she is 18, she is happy and healthy!

Welcome to the blog!  We look forward to welcoming you to the Raw Pet Digest family!