Alternative Types Of Pet Care
Many pet owners are no longer comfortable with the way traditional animal care has been applied to their pets and are seeking options to improve their pet care options. No longer do pet owners want to associate the quality of their pet’s lives just by measuring how long they live. These pet owners want to focus on the overall quality of life that their pet can enjoy and how both they and their pets can benefit from it.
Traditional Pet Care Alternatives
This new pet car mantra isn’t an anti-vet campaign, mainstream animal care does have an important role to play. What is changing is the openness to other options that some pet owners have. Instead of instantly running to their vet they are exploring alternatives such as homeopathic and naturopathic types of treatments for their beloved pets.
Traditional pet care has been centered on using veterinary services for just about every aspect of your pet’s care. This has included foods, often sold by the vet, as well as medicines and other care items either sold or prescribed by the vet. As modern veterinary medicine has advanced, so have the amounts of treatments and medications being offered.
The movement away from this type of vet-driven care has focused on three different types of alternative treatments for pets; preventive, holistic and natural treatments. All three have plenty of followers and, sadly, plenty of misinformation and a complete lack of any kind of regulatory control. It falls on the animal owner to research and decide what pieces of any or all three alternative types of pet car will work.
Preventative Pet Care
Preventative pet care is exactly what it says it is; you are taking precautions that will help your pet avoid health issues. These precautions can be quite simple, such as making sure that your pet’s environment is safe. Another type of preventive care might be a regular exercise program for your dog. Like humans, too much inactivity can lead to weight gain and heart issues. Grooming your pet and cleaning their teeth are also excellent types of preventative care. Granted, cleaning your pet’s teeth may require professional help but using a vet’s services isn’t a bad thing. What you are trying to do is balance your pet’s care.
Holistic Pet Care
Holistic pet care is probably the most misunderstood type of alternative pet care. Many people, when hearing the word holistic, have visions of hippies waving herbs over a pet while chanting. While that vision may be entertaining it is also very wrong. Holistic means using different types of treatments for different types of problems.
You may use massage for your pet’s joint problems or herbal remedies for better skin and a shiny coat. Acupuncture and chiropractic treatments are very common types of holistic treatments. More and more traditional veterinarians are adding holistic treatments to their care options, they have begun to recognize the benefits of some alternative treatments.
Natural Pet Care
Natural pet care is similar to holistic but it concentrates more on a pet’s diet and nutritional supplements, along with exercise, to keep certain types of illness at bay. Pet food is the number one focus with natural pet care. For years people just picked up a bag of dog or cat food, put it out in a bowl and let their pet eat. Recent studies have shown that many commercial pet foods, even those made by well-known companies, contain high amounts of filler and empty carbohydrates. Just like a lot of Americans, our pets were eating a lot of junk and were suffering all of the diseases and illnesses that come from obesity and poor nutrition.
The problem that can arise when trying to follow a natural type of pet care is that there is no legal definition of natural when it comes to pet food. The same issue exists for people, the word natural may be prominent on the label but it really doesn’t mean anything. What a pet owner that wants a natural diet for the pet has to do is read the label. That may sound basic but the label will tell you exactly what your pet is eating. If the number one ingredient is wheat you will probably end up with an overweight dog. However, if the number one ingredient is salmon, your pet has a better chance at better health.
Following A Natural Pet Diet
Natural diets will include meats and fish for protein and certain types of vegetables for vitamins and minerals. Your pet doesn’t product essential fatty acids naturally, they need to get them from their food. That is where fish high in omega 3 oils are beneficial, they are loaded with essential fatty acids as well as protein.
Grains are a source of concern for your pet’s diet, especially when you are trying to feed them natural foods. Whole grains are better than regular (processed) grains but they can still contain too many carbs. Unless the corn in the food is labeled organic you should assume that it is genetically modified. Most foods will need some type of preservative to keep it safe for eating weeks or months after it has been manufactured. Again, read the label carefully and try to avoid synthetic chemical preservatives like ethyoxyquin, BHT, BHA, propyl gallate and propylene glycol.
Raw Food Diet
Many disciples of natural care and feeding for their pets, especially their dogs, have fallen in love with the BARF plan. This somewhat odd acronym stands for Biologically Suitable Raw Food, or Bones And Raw Food, and is usually referred to as a raw diet. The key ingredients for a BARF diet will be raw meats, dairy items, nuts and some vegetables. Some dog owners have varied this diet a bit and will cook the meats instead of serving them raw. Others have mixed in fish such as salmon, but there is always a concern about bones whenever you use raw fish.
The thinking behind a natural raw diet is that your dog is a carnivore. Animals in nature don’t have kibble or other processed dry foods to eat, they eat what is available to them. Most dogs that are fed a raw diet will have shinier coats, cleaner teeth and more energy. The downside of a raw diet can be a lack of some nutrients and potential problems with bones. There also can be problems with bacteria found in raw meat.
Deciding if your dog will need vitamin and nutrient supplements while on a raw diet is where your vet becomes important. Without testing your dog’s blood you would be hard pressed to know if your pet needs any vitamin supplements. If they do need supplements you will again want to look for natural supplements. Baker’s yeast and garlic are two natural additives that will add vitamins as well as act as natural flea and tick control additions. If you need to add vitamins and minerals to your pet’s diet make sure that you never five them vitamins meant for humans. Find the needed supplements at a pet center and check the labels for synthetic additives.
Should You Vaccinate Your Pet?
Vaccinating your pet has become a hot topic and is a source of contention between followers of traditional pet medicine and some of the practitioners of alternative pet care. Most pet owners understand the need for basic vaccinations such as rabies and distemper. Many municipalities require these vaccinations for all house pets and they can only be given by licensed veterinarians. The major area of disagreement comes with other types of vaccinations. Some studies have shown that annual vaccinations such as those for hepatitis and parvovirus can create other health issues.
Some types of traditional pet medications can be replaced by holistic and natural alternatives. Most pet owners know that applying flea and tick medicine to their pet is messy and often stressful. Adding yeast and garlic to your pet’s diet is a natural way of protecting your pet from fleas and ticks, your pet won’t taste good to the mites.
Your Pet’s Mental Health
Mental health for your pet is a fairly new area of study and it has been embraced by people suing holistic and natural care for their animals. Mental stimulation for a pet is very important, they get bored just like humans do. Animals can also suffer from depression and anxiety and these can lead to physical health issues. Stimulating your pet’s brain and keeping them engaged is vital, they will be more focused and happier because they are being involved in activities. While it’s important to get them plenty of physical exercise, it can be just as important to exercise their brains.
Does all of this mean that you don’t need to take your pet to the vet anymore? Absolutely not, your relationship with a good veterinary clinic needs to be a part of your pets care program. There are basic vaccinations that require a vet and even the most attuned pet owner can’t always tell what is wrong with their beloved animal partner. But a vet should never be the only provider of care for your pet. Holistic and natural pet care practices have shown that they can be excellent substitutions for some of the services provided by a vet, usually at a lower cost and with a more natural presentation. Your pet will benefits from your practice of alternative pet care treatments.