As dog owners we all want is best for our pets and often we worry whether we are doing everything we can to give them the care they need. Whether you have an older dog you want to help in his later years, or a brand-new puppy you want to start on a healthy lifestyle from day one, choosing holistic and natural methods are a great option.
It is a sad fact these days that too many dogs are suffering from debilitating and degenerative diseases and illnesses that could be prevented with the right kind of care and diet. Allergies, cancer, behavioral issues, arthritis - so many of these problems can be helped with natural and holistic means.
Below are some ways you can keep your dog healthy and happy, no matter what their age or breed.
1. Vaccinate, But Not Too Much
Vaccinations are a hot topic these days and for good reason. What was once a simple procedure done maybe once or twice in a dog’s life, with just a few ingredients, is now a heavy regimen given multiple times with numerous additives and unnecessary toxins. While it’s not necessarily recommended to simply ignore all vaccinations if you want to protect your dog, there are ways to do them more safely.
When they are a puppy, a dog’s immune system is learning about the environment and building up its own immunities. Because of this, you don’t want to overwhelm their immune system with loads of antigens that may cause it to overreact. If your dog receives too many vaccines, especially close together, their system may respond in a couple different ways, such as causing allergies. Or their immune system could become suppressed from overvaccination and cause more serious issues such as infections or even cancer.
Modern vaccination schedules are extremely harsh and usually unnecessary for a dog’s system, according to many natural and holistic veterinarians, including the renowned Dr. Peter Dobias. He suggests gentler ways to vaccinate properly, including using Titer testing, which is a type of blood test that can tell you what antibodies a dog has built up for a particular illness.
You can begin testing when a puppy is 12 weeks old and If the initial test shows that the dog already has antibodies for diseases such as Parvo or Distemper, you don’t need to vaccinate. Then you can test again at 5 or 6 months and again at a year old. If the dog continues to have these antibodies, they aren’t likely to get those diseases as they don’t usually affect older dogs. Regarding rabies, it is suggested that you don’t give this vaccination before six months of age. Overall, it is very important to reduce the number of vaccinations a dog receives throughout their lives. Some vaccines, such as for kennel cough, can cause the very sickness you are trying to prevent.
2. Feed the Right Foods and Supplements
Feeding the right kinds of foods to your dog is one of the key ways you can keep them healthy and strong. Despite what many dog food manufacturers would like you to believe, feeding processed, dry kibble that is designed to sit on a shelf is not the best choice for your pet. Think about it, would you want to eat nothing but that every single day? Would you feed it to your children? Modern pet food is essentially a way to recycle meat and vegetable matter that is left over from human food manufacturing, and these leftovers are stripped of all nutrition, vitamins, and minerals.
A dog’s body is designed to ingest and get nutrition from raw, all-natural foods. Luckily, this type of food is easier to purchase now as there are a lot of natural, holistic dog food manufacturers. You can purchase natural, raw food made from the same type of meat and vegetables that you would give to your family. This type of diet will keep your dog healthy all their lives and many pet parents of dogs as old as 15 years have found their pets looking and acting half their age when fed this kind of diet.
But even if you do feed a high-quality raw food to your dog, don’t forget about additional supplements and minerals. Unfortunately, the way food is grown and processed - both for humans and pets – leaves it with little nutritional value. Crops are grown in soil that has been stripped of nutrients and minerals, and livestock eat grains and other foods that are grown in the same soil.
Minerals and other vitamins are critical for the health of your pet and if they aren’t receiving these in their food, it is important that you find a healthy supplement. Be sure to avoid synthetic vitamins and mineral supplements as these are often produced from unhealthy ingredients such as coal and crude oil. Choose supplements that are created from whole foods to give your dog what he needs.
3. Take Walks, But Ditch the Collar
Getting outside in fresh air, going for walks, and running in the dog park with other dogs are all great for your dog’s overall health. But when you take your dog out for some exercise, don’t use a typical dog collar for control if you want to keep them healthy.
A dog collar sits on the neck, right where the thyroid gland is located. Because of this, pulling or yanking on the collar can traumatize the gland and cause multiple issues. This gland is very important to a dog’s health as it controls their metabolism. If the gland is inflamed from trauma, it can lead to a serious illness called hypothyroidism. This condition is degenerative and can be extremely severe and may even lead to death.
To keep your dog healthy and continue to give them exercise, it is best to switch to a harness for walking and other activities. A well-made harness will give you the control you need, without causing injury to you dog’s neck. A dog collar can still be used for your dog’s tags and identification, but when it’s time to go out for a walk, put on a harness.
There are many benefits to seeking a more healthy and holistic way of life for your dog. We encourage you to do research of your own to find all the ways you can help your pet. Seeing the results in your dog will be the best reward you could ever receive.