Pet Health & Wellness is a Journey
Health and wellness is a journey throughout the life of your pet. It is to be addressed from a whole body and lifestyle approach with the key component being balance. Similar to healthcare in humans, the goal is to prevent illness and disease. Too often, chronic and acute conditions occur and the pet owner is faced with attending to symptoms and placing one’s faith in the veterinarian or specialist for treatment. Whether you choose conventional medicine, a holistic alternative or a combination of both, your pet’s overall well being is an ongoing event that needs to be approached with kindness, patience and intention.
Throughout the lifetime of your pet - there is almost 100% certainly that your pet will require medical care. Emergencies, vaccinations, digestive issues etc. can and probably will occur. Incidents arise and having a primary veterinarian who you feel comfortable with and confident to talk with is paramount. Having a specialty center, 24/7 emergency center and emergency plan on your phone or in print will save valuable time and energy. In the meantime, what can you do as a pet owner to empower and reassure yourself that you are providing the best care for your pet?
Feeding a proper diet and keeping a food “diary” is a great way to start. Keep a small notebook (especially if you have multiple pets) for any food aversions or allergies; medications, reactions to food, treatments and current meal plans. It is my opinion that raw feeding is a wonderful option for my dogs and cats. It provides natural digestive enzymes for gut health and my Great Danes have thrived on it for 30+ years. I prefer a commercial raw blend for ease of use but will add quality sourced raw meaty bones and meals. On occasion, I dabble with DIY home cooked diet - this is by far the most difficult of all diets with special attention paid to balancing the meal. In addition, I travel with freeze dried options. Kibble (and there may be some decent brands out there) have never been part of my dog’s diet. High cooking temperatures destroy naturally occurring enzymes; very few companies control the quality and sources of proteins and I am not a fan of additives. If supplements are required, I would rather source and add them as needed.
Physical and mental stimulation are part of the journey. Everyone loves a well mannered dog. Even dogs enjoy other well mannered dogs. There is a positive calm energy that you and your dog pick up on. Training has evolved from not just the basic commands of sit and stay (although a solid recall remains one of the most important aspects of training). Working with your dog always reminds me of two people who meet each other and there is a language barrier. It takes time, energy and patience but eventually you figure out a way to communicate. Training provides community and a sense of purpose for your dog. There are many exercises and games available in written or app form as well as puppy classes and advanced training. As a pet parent, building a “dialogue” with your pet enhances your own communication skills as well as your relationship with your four legged friend.
Regular veterinary care whether it be conventional or holistic falls under the category of basic needs. In my opinion, I opt for holistic care and supplements whenever possible. Most alternative care therapies (such as acupuncture, ozone therapy, organic CBD, Chinese herbs and massage) offer effective management of conditions such as inflammation, convalescence or digestive issues. The key is to find a veterinarian who understands and acknowledges that conventional and holistic care compliment one another and will work with you and respect your thoughts and opinions.
Restoring health and well being can be more challenging than preventing dis-ease in the beginning stages. Each animal is unique and needs to be treated accordingly. It is a constant effort among your pet’s community of owners, handlers and care providers. Every day and every incident is a chance to educate yourself on your pet’s journey to health and well being. Be patient, be kind, be positive and approach this endeavor with intention. Never forget to love your pet for their uniqueness. They are a temporary gift to us and one that is worth our love and affection.