Holistic Animal Care: Food for Thought, by Jenny Magli

holistic animal care, pet nutrition

Have you ever wondered what’s in the commercial dry packaged food you feed your pet? Or have you just assumed it was good because that’s what the advertisement said? Well, I did just that. Many years ago I fell for the ads hook, line and sinker. I thought that since I was purchasing a high quality food and not the “cheapest” pet food at the grocery store, I was doing a good thing for my pets.

Well, my thought process and lack of any real nutritional information for dogs and cats left me (and my pets) at the mercy of the advertisers. I had a hound that developed seizures and was placed (by the vet) on phenobarbital (an anti-seizure medication requiring constant monitoring for liver problems). This stopped the seizures temporarily. Dosing continually had to be increased to quell the arrival of more seizures. What would happen when we reached the highest dose possible? Upon moving here, I connected with a gal named Candy who had a  holistic pet food store. She educated me about unhealthy ingredients in dry food that can cause health problems. My real eye opener came when we switched from a commercial brand food to a healthier holistic food – we were eventually able to  wean the dog off Phenobarbital and the seizures stopped completely!

From that time on, I became passionate about educating pet owners about what’s really in their pets’ packaged food. The first question I ask new clients is, “What are you feeding your pet?” Many people reply “Whatever is on sale!” Most of the time, just making a simple switch to a higher quality food can turn around many health issues fairly quickly. Plus, with better food (higher quality ingredients and less fillers), you will be feeding your pet smaller portions, as the animal will get more and better nutrition out of it. Hence a better food is not necessarily more expensive, as over time its use results in lower vet bills.

Signs of poor nutritional status in pets can be dry, flaky skin and a sparse, coarse, brittle hair coat.

Pets should have a full, shiny, soft coat with healthy-looking skin. It doesn’t require any special education to observe your pet and simply decide whether the skin and coat are healthy-looking. If they aren’t, you must evaluate what you are feeding him or her before you do anything else. Other factors, such as skin mites, (mange), allergies, autoimmune disorders, genetic defects and bacteria/fungal infections, will certainly damage the skin and coat. These disorders must be diagnosed by your veterinarian, but remember, any treatment will be less effective, (and possibly ineffective), if the pet lacks basic nutritive input.

A simple start in reading food labels is to look for animal protein as the first ingredient. They should say “beef, beef meal, lamb, lamb meal, chicken, chicken fats, turkey, etc. Absolutely NO by-products! Look for “whole grains only” such as barley, brown rice, potato, rice bran, oatmeal and oat bran, no grain “by-products.” Vegetables like peas and carrots and possibly some good fruit sources of fiber should also be included, but no salt, sugar or yeast. Look for helpful fats such as quality fish oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil or fish meal. For cats, it is essential to have the amino acid Taurine added to the food. Also watch for expiration dates.

*Please understand that you are solely responsible for the use of any information given here and use of any information will be at your own risk. Remember, animals need a variety of foods and have specific vitamin and mineral requirements to be met.

Jenny is a Certified Natural Health Consultant for pets and their people, Healing Touch for Animals (Level 2) and NES Bioenergetics Practitioner. Consultations are done over the phone and via email. To contact, call (906) 235-3524 or email at 1healthlink@gmail.com.

Excerpted with permission from the Fall 2009 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazinecopyright 2009. All rights reserved.