Basics of Holistic Pet Nutrition

Pet nutrition and diet are the key to your pet’s good health. A little natural preventive care can increase your pet’s longevity, quality of life and help save you money on costly veterinary care in the future.

What does holistic really mean and why is nutrition so important? Holistic veterinary care looks at the whole picture of your pet – not just a specific symptom or condition. A holistic veterinarian will examine all of the issues affecting your pet’s health condition including diet, lifestyle (e.g. exercise) and emotional issues in addition to genetic factors. A holistic veterinarian may use healing techniques such as chiropractic and acupuncture in addition to traditional veterinary practices.

The saying “You are what you eat” applies as much to your pet as it does to you. Think about what you eat and how you feel differently depending upon what you drank or ate the day before. Do you feel better after eating healthy fresh foods? Pets are just the same. In the past, many people offered their pets what they chose not to eat (such as fat from a steak) thinking it was good for their pet. Believe it or not, many of the same things that are good for you are also good for your pet. For example, most fresh vegetables, fresh meat or fish and high omega oils such as olive or flax oil can be beneficial to both of you. Did you know that taking of your cats diet may also increase your mindfulness?

Be sure to look at labels for foods and snacks you give your pet. If there is something on the label you don’t recognize, chances are it may not be the best for your pet. To keep the product “fresh” for long-term consumption, potentially cancer-causing preservatives are added such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. Try to find natural brands that use Vitamin E as a preservative or better yet, consider preparing your pet a homemade diet. Also, watch out for pet foods that contain “meat by-products”, “meal” or chicken, beef or fish “meal”, dried animal digest or fish digest – these are not the “choice cuts of beef, plump juicy chickens” you see in the commercials.

Many common pet ailments such as allergies, skin problems and digestive disorders can be healed and/or greatly improved by making adjustments to your pet’s diet. For example, pet owners may be baffled for years about their pet’s chronic scratching and itching problem only to find that a change in diet eliminates the problem. In addition, many pets can live with potentially fatal conditions such as chronic renal failure and liver disease by making life-saving adjustments to their diet. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine once said “Let your food be your medicine” meaning that nutrition can help the body to heal itself.

Be cautious about the snacks you feed your pet. Avoid human processed foods (e.g. baked goods, chips, etc) and foods with sugar. But natural foods such as apples or carrots can be wonderful snacks.

You may find that your pet can benefit from a raw food diet or a combination kibble/raw food diet for dogs. Raw food is easier for pets to digest and contains vital nutrients that are often destroyed in highly processed pet foods. Sometimes a raw diet may be the key to helping a pet recover from a longtime illness or chronic problem such as chewing on their tail. Raw frozen diets should be started gradually however as some pets may experience a detoxification reaction and/or gastrointestinal symptoms as their diet is changed. In addition, meticulous care must be taken to ensure the food is completely fresh and doesn’t sit out for more than a few minutes.

Changing your pet’s diet may seem overwhelming at first. But the changes you make will make lead to a much healthier and happier pet. Susan Davis and Ask Ariel are here to help. If you schedule a consultation, you will receive a complete guide on how to feed your pet custom-tailored to your pet’s needs and your lifestyle.