Living Well

The Natural Touch

By Karon Warren  |  Photography courtesy of chewshappiness.com

Holistic treatments for pets may be the right course of action, but be sure to discuss with professionals first.

Any pet owner will tell you that pets are a part of the family, so it’s no wonder they want us to treat them like family. That means providing the best care possible to keep them healthy. And, just like with many of us humans, many pet owners are taking a more natural approach to pet care.

These include using natural foods to alleviate certain conditions, employing such techniques as acupuncture and aromatherapy to provide both physical and mental relief, and supplementing their diet with coconut oil.

Natural foods provide natural relief
A common problem due to disease, infection or parasites, diarrhea is as unpleasant for your dog as it is for you. While you should always talk to your veterinarian before implementing any treatment for diarrhea, pumpkin could help reduce the problem. This fiber-rich food can absorb water, adding bulk to your pet’s stool, according to the American Kennel Club.

Another food that can help with not only diarrhea but also deliver good digestive health is goat’s milk, says Carolyn Reeder, store manager at Hollywood Feed, a natural and holistic pet food merchant in Oxford (with locations also in Southaven and Olive Branch). Goat’s milk contains probiotics and prebiotics, which can help ease stomach discomfort when switching foods for your pet, Reeder explains.

Elderberry and honey can boost your pet’s immune system, Reeder says. Using an immune health system such as Prudence Absolute Immune Health can help your pet stay healthy and free of digestive distress.

While garlic has been said to help keep fleas away from cats and dogs, Reeder doesn’t recommend it. In fact, she says some dogs are allergic to garlic. Likewise, while some say cranberry juice can help bladder infections in cats, Reeder says it will be hard to get them to drink it. The better choice, she says, is ample water. Cats don’t routinely drink much water on their own, Reeder explains, but if you make it attractive, such as in a tabletop fountain, they are more likely to drink it.

Natural supplements aid in prevention
Like humans, dogs need a variety of vitamins to help their bodies function properly. These include vitamin A, several B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K and choline. However, dogs require different amounts of these vitamins than humans, with those amounts changing over time as they grow.

Most dogs get all the vitamins they need if you are giving them dog food geared to their age and size, according to the American Kennel Club. That’s why dog food is sold targeted at puppies, adult dogs, senior dogs, and large dog breeds. Be careful not to give your dog extra vitamins unless your veterinarian instructs you to do so. And, if your dog does need extra vitamins, it’s possible you may be able to supply those through fruits and vegetables instead of a supplement.

Arthritis is a condition that afflicts many dog breeds, so Reeder recommends giving your dog coconut oil, which can help alleviate arthritis pain in older dogs or dogs with hip and/or joint problems. She gives her dogs 1 teaspoon of coconut oil per day in their dog food. She says it also can promote a healthy coat. In addition, if you put it on your cat’s paws so they can lick it, it may help prevent hairballs.

Natural treatments ease pain and anxiety
Not surprisingly, some of the same natural techniques we humans rely on for relief also work for our dogs. For instance, chiropractic treatments can relieve pain and improve agility, per the American Kennel Club. Acupuncture also can help relieve pain as well as improve blood circulation, reduce anxiety, and reduce inflammation.

Likewise, aromatherapy can aid relaxation in dogs when various scents are added to the air through essential oils diffusers or scented candles. However, it’s important to note that some essential oils are toxic for dogs, cats, birds, and other pets, says the American Kennel Club, so talk with your veterinarian before introducing these into your home.

In fact, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before starting any of these procedures, and, when you do, seek out a professional who is experienced in working with dogs.

Caring for your pet with a natural touch is a great way to help your pet live a long and healthy life. However, before starting any new natural treatments for your pet, talk with your veterinarian to make sure your choices will be the best option for your furry friends.

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