Natural Eye & Ear Care

A Healthy Cat
Keep their eyes & ears healthy & beautiful!

They’re things that we take for granted: our dogs can hear the crinkle of their food bags from the complete opposite corner of the house and our cats stalk and pounce on a slippered foot on even the darkest night. And even though our pets’ senses of sight and sound may always amaze us, this doesn’t mean they’re impervious to injury.

From common aging to specific disorders, their eyes and ears face numerous challenges; but with some simple observations, added knowledge, and natural help, you can care for your pet’s eyes and ears the healthy, natural way.

Eye Disorders

Eye health covers everything from vision to the physical & cellular health of the eye. It’s a hugely important sense for our pets and can experience several struggles. Here are some of the most common disorders, how you can recognize them, and what you can do to combat them naturally.

EasyRaw
Diet Is the Foundation of Your Pet’s Health!

Cataracts

Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Healthy eye lenses are made up of mostly water and protein and cataracts are formed when proteins begin clumping together in an abnormal way, resulting in clouding and decreased vision. They’re usually associated with older pets, but they can easily affect younger pets with certain congenital issues or chronic conditions, like diabetes. Surgery is often required, but the urgency and even the need for surgery can be put off with a proper regime of prevention and treatment.

As with most natural care, prevention and treatment both begin with the basics: a high quality diet supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Diet is the foundation of good health and is the most important thing you can do for your companion; many chronic degenerative eye diseases, like cataracts, develop as a result of inadequate nutrition and exposure to toxins in low quality food. Thankfully, there are so many quality diets on the market, pleasing even the pickiest pet is simple. Dehydrated and freeze dried diets are delicious and packed with nutrients needed for a species appropriate diet, and even high quality canned pet food and high quality pet kibble diets have been improving drastically over the years. The basic rule of thumb is the fresher the better; but remember, your pets should enjoy what they’re eating as well!

Herbal supplements can be extremely helpful for cataracts, especially bilberry. Bilberry supplements maintain proper circulation in the eye, delivering needed nutrients to eye tissue; plus it supports cardiovascular health. Along with a bilberry extract, high quality antioxidant supplements support eye health, maintaining your pet’s ability to battle the progression cataracts.

Homeopathy can be helpful in some cases of cataracts, but the choice of remedy is specific to the needs of your pet. It’s best to search the help of a holistic vet certified with The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is the fancy name for eye inflammation and usually occurs in animals with preexisting immune or allergy-related problems. When your dog or cat has sore, red eyes with a discharge, the first thing to do is determine the cause. It

may be as simple as a minor scratch, irritating debris, or airborne allergies, or a more serious issue, like feline herpes or glaucoma. If you’re uncertain about what’s causing your pet’s irritation, a trip to the veterinarian is crucial; waiting can mean the difference between saving your pet’s sight and losing it.

For common irritations, eye washes are helpful for soothing they eyes and removing any foreign debris, and eyebright herbal washes are effective at controlling symptoms and minor infections. Traditional Chinese herbal blends can also be helpful for boosting the immune system and clearing minor eye infections.

If allergies are suspected as the cause of conjunctivitis, it’s best to confront the two most common culprits: food & airborne allergies. Switching to a hypoallergenic diet will help eliminate food borne allergens. Nutraceutical allergy formulas regimen will help maintain your pet’s ability to battle airborne allergies, plus, they act as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory agents to control inflammation. Solutions are also helpful for gently cleaning and removing foreign debris, like pollen.

Feline Herpes

If your cat’s eyes are watering and producing a thick whitish discharge, feline herpes may be the cause. Feline herpes is a common, highly contagious upper respiratory infection that can have far reaching effects on your cat’s health. On the eyes specifically, the inside lining of the eyelids becomes inflamed, and shallow, painful ulcers develop.

Feline Herpes is generally a result of a weakened immune system, so a healthy diet and immune support are essential. To help control the virus, the amino acid L-lysine may be helpful; L-lysine, along with other vitamins and herbs, can support the immune system during infections and on a long-term basis. Specially formulated blends to fight viral and bacterial infections and boost the immune system can be very helpful as well. Plus, eyebright eyewashes will soothed the painful eye ulcers and gently clean the thick discharges.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), involves the shrinking of the retina of the eye and is more common in dogs than cats. PRA usually develops slowly and begins with night blindness; if you notice your companion hesitating to go outside at

Only Natural Pet Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
Essential Fatty Acids Help Eyes & Ears

night or down a darkened hall, suspect vision problems and consult your veterinarian.

In cats, PRA is most commonly related to a taurine deficiency, which is now less of a problem since all commercially available cat foods are fortified with added taurine. Raw diets that include organ meats provide the most natural source of taurine, and for those feeding home-prepared diets, taurine supplementation is essential. Look for daily supplements to ensure your cat’s health.

Preventing PRA in your pet is best done with a multi-faceted approach. Obviously, proper diet and nutrition are giant steps you can take to confront and degenerative or chronic condition. Supplements are also hugely important: bilberry is useful for PRA for the same reasons it may help with cataracts – increased circulation and nutrients to the eye tissue. Zinc and vitamin E deficiencies are also linked to PRA, so supplementing with both of these is valuable in preventing PRA. Finally, essential fatty acids, particularly DHA from fish oil, also support in preventing or slowing the progression of PRA.

Ear Disorders

Ear health is vital for your pet to not only have healthy hearing, but clean, irritant free ears. Troubled ears often result in excessive scratching and shaking, not to mention they can smell pretty terrible. Here are some of the most common offenders and how you can help your pet.

Ear Infections & Yeast Problems

Chronic ear infections and yeast problems are frequently a sign of food allergies, but diet, digestive enzymes, probiotics, and essential fatty acids are great for treating allergies and hence chronic ear problems from the inside out.

Many animals with food sensitivities and allergies have seen dramatic improvement on raw, freeze dried, and dehydrated diets; again, the fresher the diet, the better it is for your companion’s health & immune system.  Dry kibble can be part of a healthy diet for pets; however dogs with chronic ear problems or allergies require hypo-allergenic food, meaning no wheat, corn or soy and sometimes no beef or chicken too, due to protein sensitivities. Make sure your read your labels and find a diet that’s friendly for your pet’s allergies and palate.

Only Natural Pet Vital Digest
Digestive Enzymes Support Healthy Allergy Responses

Most pets suffering food allergies also have unhealthy gastrointestinal systems and can’t digest food properly. Leaky gut develops, letting molecules that are too large to process pass through the gut wall, setting off allergic reactions and even yeast infections. The symptoms may appear in the ears, but you have to heal the gut to really get rid of the allergies. Digestive enzymes break down the food so that there is less of a chance of the larger molecules passing through the intestinal walls, probiotics support a healthy balance of flora in the gut and aid digestion, and fatty acids maintain proper inflammation response, supporting a healthy gut.

Digestive enzymes break down the food so that there is less of a chance of the larger molecules passing through the intestinal walls and should be added at every meal. The enzymes work quickly and don’t remain in your pet’s system beyond digestion of the food immediately present in the digestive tract.

Probiotics support a healthy balance of flora in the gut, aid digestion, and are especially important if your pet has been on steroids or antibiotics, which kill the healthy gut flora and set up conditions for the allergies to worsen. Probiotics are helpful for any animal that has had chronic gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea as well.

Essential fatty acids, preferably fish oil, maintain proper inflammation response and support a healthy gut. Allergies involve inflammation of the gut and often affect the joints as well. Plus, fish oil is an irresistible topper on your pet’s meals.

Finally, if the change in diet and adding enzymes and fatty acids do not completely solve the issue, then consider a supplement high in plant sterols and sterolins that help balance the immune system over time and reduce allergic reactions.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are part of the arachnid family (along with ticks, spiders, and scorpions) and are parasitic. These little buggers result in excess scratching and unfortunately, can lead to other infections and irritations as your pet is looking for relief. They spread quickly, so if you have multiple pets, get all of them checked. If you suspect your pet has ear mites, take them to your veterinarian to be tested and treated.

Thankfully, one of the best things you can do for ear mites is prevention. Putting your pet on a healthy diet, probiotics, digestive enzymes and essential fatty acids (the same program you follow to prevent ear infections) will support your pet’s natural ability to fend off these nasty invaders.

General Ear Relief

Topical ear washes are a great way to relieve and ease any ear irritation your pet may be experiencing. Echinacea and tea tree oil are both mild disinfects that will help clean the ear canal. Plus, tea tree oil is anti-fungal and can be helpful in controlling yeast as well.

Final Thoughts on Natural Eye & Ear Care

Ear and eye problems are not only nuisances for your pet, but can lead to serious issues, including loss of sight and hearing. But with attention to detail, a helpful holistic veterinarian, and a natural approach, you can keep your pet seeing, hearing and feeling great!

Please keep in mind that although these are common eye and ear disorders seen by veterinarians, they are not all of the symptoms of a diagnosis. If you’re noticing any changes in behavior, squinting, excessive scratching, or loss of hearing or sight, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Healthy Eyes & Ears Mean Healthy Seeing & Hearing
Healthy Eyes & Ears Mean Healthy Seeing & Hearing

Fifteen Steps to Detox Your Pet

Natural Pet Detox Solutions
Make your dog smile with natural detox solutions.

The words “toxic” and “toxin” get thrown around a lot; from toxic waste to pop star lyrics, they’re often overused and misunderstood. But the truth is: toxins can cause, worsen, or accelerate numerous health problems in your pet. And since these toxins are often hidden in our pet’s food, air and environment, it can be difficult to pinpoint how many they’re actually receiving.

Our pets are in an extremely difficult situation because of their size and their inability to communicate. We may affectionately call them our little friends, but the truth is that “little” moniker can be a big problem. Since they’re smaller, small amounts of toxins can have a greater impact on their health. Plus, they can’t say to you, “This water is making me sick,” or “You’re going to spray the lawn with what?!” so we can’t know everything that’s effecting them.

Thankfully, there’s help! With a little primer on what toxins are most likely hurting your pet, and some easy to follow steps on how to stop them, you and your furry friend will be well on your way to living a healthy, toxin free life!

Tracking Your Pet’s Toxins

Toxins get into your pet through several means; including eating, licking, breathing, touching, and even normal biological processes. Outdoor toxins like weed killers, pesticides, automotive exhaust & motor oil, and chemical road or sidewalk de-icers get into our pets when they breathe them in, eat chemical-laden grass, lick dust or residue off their paws and fur, or absorb them through their paws. Household products like cleaners, air fresheners, laundry products and other chemicals can invade where your pets sleep and lounge. Toxins in drinking water, commercial food and treats, and medications are usually directly ingested by your pet. Finally, some toxins, like ammonia, are produced within your pet’s body, either through their own metabolic processes or by microbial activity, most often bacteria and/or yeast in the GI tract.

The Ill Effects of Toxins on Your Pet

In a healthy body, toxins are rounded up and eliminated quickly through the organs of elimination, including the liver, kidneys, lungs, intestines, and skin. Our pets’ wild counterparts have very efficient toxin elimination systems that have developed over centuries to handle the natural toxins they encounter. But in the modern world, our domesticated pets are bombarded daily with an overwhelming number of toxins, most of which their bodies have not had enough evolutionary time to adapt to.

In the short run, our pet’s bodies react to toxins like ours do: the immune system ramps up processes like inflammation, mucus production and diarrhea to help an army of cells resolve the problem and purge the offending “invaders” from the system. But when the body is overwhelmed with too many toxins, it is forced to store them until there is an opportunity to eliminate them at a better time. For many pets, the better time never arrives, and these toxins will accumulate indefinitely, causing symptoms like lethargy, fatigue, and proneness to infection. Ultimately, toxic overload can impede the work of your pet’s immune system to the point where tumors and cysts may form, and serious health conditions may develop as organ function is impaired.

Detoxing Your Pet

1. Upgrade Food & Treats – Improving the quality of your pet’s diet is the best thing you can do to improve well-being and longevity. Stop giving your pets any grocery store or pet store chain foods & treats; you are feeding them chemical additives, artificial colors & flavors with every bite. Along with these toxic indigestible ingredients, they are filled with poor quality proteins and fillers that tax your pet’s digestion and increase the toxic load in their bodies. Choose natural, high quality food and treats. Only Natural Pet Store offers only the best in highly digestible, additive-free natural dog foods & natural cat food and natural dog treats & natural cat treats.

2. Filtered Water Only – While the water that flows through your household pipes may be technically “fit to drink,” it is filled with toxic minerals, metal levels, chemicals like fluoride and chlorine, and even trace amounts dangerous prescription drugs. Your pets deserve better! Water filtration units are readily available and you don’t have to spend a lot to get a good one. Pet fountains from Drinkwell and Pioneer Pet Water Filters not only filter the water, but entice pets that don’t like to drink water: a great benefit to their kidneys. It’s well worth the investment and, after all, what’s more valuable than your pet’s health?

3. Add Nutraceuticals and Cleansing HerbsNutrient supplements that contain “greens” and cleansing herbs can help your pet tremendously. Greens supplements add a wide variety of nutrients commonly missing from even the best pet foods, including full spectrum amino acids, chlorophyll, antioxidants, trace minerals, and essential fatty acids. Cleansing herbs have unique properties that support the health of essential organ systems and are extremely easy to administer. We offer many excellent greens and cleansing herb supplements.

4. Eliminate Household Chemicals – Along with obvious products like bug killers and cleaning solvents, beware of things like perfumes, air fresheners (including scented plug-ins), and laundry products like dryer sheets These are laden with chemicals unregulated and untested by US health protection agencies, and many of them are known to cause or worsen respiratory conditions like asthma. Choose 100% natural cleaning products. Check out our selection of natural, biodegradable cleaners, or make your own natural cleaner. There are many online resources for making effective cleaning products from ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice.

5. Exercise Every Day – Your pet needs exercise as much as you do, and daily workouts have many benefits for protecting your pet from toxins. Exercise improves the movement of waste materials through the digestive tract, reducing the toxic effects of a too-sluggish bowel. Exercise also improves circulation of blood and lymph fluid, two primary means of eliminating micro-toxins and cellular debris from the body. Exercise also improves respiration and helps remove excess mucus from the respiratory tract. Don’t let a dog’s bad walking behavior or a cat’s boredom prevent you from giving your pets the exercise they need.  Walking harnesses can curb your dog’s pulling tendencies, making walks easier, and outdoor walking harness for cats allow for safe outdoor exercise. Plus, some interactive toys for dogs & interactive toys for cats will keep your pet’s muscles toned from “hunting prey.”

6. Improve Air Quality – Indoor air pollution can come from household chemicals, cigarette and cigar smoke, gaseous chemicals emanating from new synthetic household items like flooring, carpeting, and furniture, and even dust. If you have new household items that are giving off that tell-tale “new” smell, be sure to keep these areas of the house well-ventilated, keep pets off and out of these areas and consider using window fans or leaving windows open for some fresh air while the items are exuding high levels of volatile organic compounds. Use bathroom fans to reduce chemical residues from spray-on cosmetic items like hair spray and perfume. And consider purchasing an air purifier to continually cycle and filter your house’s air.

7. Minimize Exposure to Outdoor Pollutants & Chemicals – Pets that spend time outdoors will undoubtedly encounter chemicals used for pest control, weed killers, fertilizers and more. If your dog likes to munch on grass, keep a close eye on them when you walk near neighbors’ yards and in public places like parks, where use of chemicals is common. Adding greens to the diet may help curb this tendency in both cats and dogs to graze on grass outside. For cats, a great solution is the SmartCat Kitty Garden, which lets you grow a healthy assortment of grasses free of contaminants.

8. Keep Conventional Meds in Check – Toxic compounds are plentiful in conventional flea and tick products, heartworm medications, and many conventional drugs, including vaccines. While chemical treatments and conventional medications may be needed, it pays to be mindful of the frequency of dosing, and to look for natural alternatives when they are appropriate. We offer many natural flea and tick control products, as well as natural remedies for common pet health conditions that offer safer alternatives to their conventional counterparts; check with your vet about natural remedies that may be of benefit. We also suggest carefully considering the misguided notion that every pet requires annual boosters for vaccines. Read our article, “The Truth About Pet Vaccinations,” for more information on this critical topic.

9. Support the Liver – Your pet’s liver does the lion’s share of eliminating of toxins. Antioxidants assist the liver in this process, and many detoxification remedies have herbs like milk thistle that are of great value to your pet’s liver. While young, healthy pets are unlikely to require daily liver support, older pets and those taking medications may benefit from regular use of liver support products. As always, consult a holistic vet to determine whether and how liver-supporting remedies may be of benefit to your companion. Read more about liver support in our article, “Taking Care of the Liver,” by our consulting holistic veterinarian, Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM.

10. Provide Immune Support – Your pet’s immune system works in tandem with the elimination organs to flush toxins, and supporting immune health keeps your pet’s liver, kidneys, lungs, intestines and skin healthy so they can do their detoxification work. For healthy pets, daily immune support is found in a quality multivitamin & mineral supplement. Extra immune support, especially important for older and active pets, is provided by antioxidant supplements.

11. Skin Salvation – Your pet’s skin and coat is the first line of defense against toxins, and a regular brushing regimen will help your pet’s skin “breathe” and facilitate this process. Regular grooming also removes dust and debris that may contain toxic residue, making personal grooming far less worrisome. Consider the quality of your pet’s bath products, and choose natural grooming products that skip the toxic ingredients, preventing your pet from absorbing fewer toxins at bath time. Natural skin health products and natural shampoo & bath products support healthy skin and are just as effective as their toxic counterparts.

12. Support Healthy Digestion – Most eliminated toxins pass through the colon, and a healthy digestive system keeps them moving through before they damage the intestinal walls or are reabsorbed. A sluggish bowel (constipation), or an irritated one (diarrhea) suggests a microbe imbalance, which complicates elimination of toxins. With constipation, toxic materials can be released back into your pet’s bloodstream before they pass through. Plus, microbes out of balance (for example bacteria and yeast) can produce their own toxins. Look for products designed to help your pet’s digestion which contain probiotics or digestive enzymes, or complete gastrointestinal support formulas that contain both.

13. Support the Kidneys – The simplest thing you can do to support health kidneys is ensure your pet drinks an ample amount of filtered water every day. Toxins are highly concentrated in chronically dehydrated pets and can damage the kidneys’ filtration system. Likewise, mineral particles can form when urine is highly concentrated, resulting in the formation of dreaded stones that are painful, cause blockages and set the stage for recurrent infections. If your pet doesn’t drink much water, consider a pet fountain and provide more liquids with meals by adding broth, gravy, or water to their food and using canned food to provide extra moisture. For pets with urinary tract issues, consider remedies for urinary tract and kidney support.

14. Keep It Clean – Studies show that the home environment generally has far worse air quality than the outdoors. Much of the toxic material found in our homes, however, blows into our houses from dust and outdoor pollutants. Keep your home free of dust with regular dusting and vacuuming; this greatly reduces toxic particulate matter that our pets breathe and ingest. Another place to be strict with cleaning is your pet’s food and water bowls. Change water daily and wash your pet’s bowls, as dust and germs accumulate here in abundance.

15. Gently Detox with Herbs & Homeopathics – Because our pets live with us and ingest many toxins in our shared environment, even the healthiest cats and dogs can benefit from regular intervals of gentle detoxification. We carry several excellent pet detoxification formulas with herbs like milk thistle, red clover, dandelion, and astragalus that support your pet’s organs and help eliminate stored toxins.

Keeping Your Pet Toxin Free

Keep in mind that as the body is eliminating toxins, it is not unusual for there to be a brief “healing crisis,” in which a cat or dog may develop symptoms like a runny nose or changes in bowel function or appetite. Such symptoms usually subside in a few days. As always, observe your pet closely and stop any remedy if concerning symptoms develop. Always consult with a holistic veterinarian for appropriate guidance. Please see our article, “Administering Remedies to Your Companion,” for additional suggestions.

The good news is that for most pets, their bodies are remarkably well-equipped to handle disease, eliminate a reasonable amount of toxins, and restore their own organs and body systems to health – with your help. When a natural diet and clean environment are combined with adequate nutrients, rest, exercise and joy, your pets are capable of a level of health you never thought possible.

The Power of Daily Vitamins

Just like you, your pets can benefit greatly from a daily vitamin. That’s why our holistic vet formulated our new Ultimate Daily Vitamins!

Unlike their predecessors (our extremely popular Super Daily line), the new Ultimate Daily Vitamins are species appropriate! Dogs and cats (aside from having hugely different personalities and being sworn cartoon enemies) have two very different anatomies. The Ultimate Daily Vitamins were created specifically with your dog and cat in mind! Plus, each one features all of the building blocks your pet needs for a healthy, holistic lifestyle.

This includes:

  • Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes for proper nutrient absorption and to support a healthy gut; one of the main components of a healthy immune system.
  • Essential Fatty Acids, including the Omega 3’s DPA and EPA, which are hugely important for a beautiful coat and maintaining healthy skin, organ function, and more!
  • Glucosamine, MSM, and Chondroitin, plus New Zealand Green Lipped mussels, for supporting healthy joints.
  • Tons of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, calcium, potassium and more for maintaining healthy organ, nervous, muscle and skeletal function.

But don’t take my word for it; just ask Lindsay and Goose!

Immune Support 101

With how complex your pet’s immune system can be, caring for it naturally and effectively can seem to be a pretty daunting task. But with a little planning, supporting your pet’s immune system doesn’t have to be that hard.

Supplements

Along with Immune Strengthener, herbs, mushrooms and nutraceuticals like Cat’s Claw, Chinese Herbs, Medicinal Mushrooms and Colostrum can be a huge help.

Diet

Diet is always the first line of defense; it is the foundation of health. If your companion is consuming highly processed food that provides only minimal nutrition and includes toxins such as chemical preservatives, food dyes, texturizers, and other additives, his immune system is being depleted daily just to cope with that diet. Fresh, wholesome food, like frozen raw or non-frozen raw, is the first step in building a strong immune system.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants help prevent oxidative damage to cells, boost immune function, and possibly decrease the risk of infections, degenerative diseases, and cancer. Antioxidants exist as vitamins, minerals, and other compounds in foods. They act as scavengers, helping to prevent cell and tissue damage by destroying free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that the body normally produces to defend against bacteria and other pathogens; but if left unchecked, they can damage the body at the cellular level.

Stress and Exercise

Stress suppresses the immune system. Our pets can experience emotional stress from any number of sources, such as territorial disputes among pets (especially cats), social stress, and noise and light pollution. Exercise helps reduce stress and helps build and maintain a strong body and immune system. Moderate exercise has been shown to improve immune function in humans and animals.Weight control is also key – overweight animals are much more susceptible to chronic and acute diseases and infections. Proper diet AND exercise are needed to help with weight control.

These simple and healthy steps and ingredients can keep your pet’s immune system operating efficiently and properly for many years to come!

Why Spend More on Natural Pet Food?

Every day we get dozens of questions from dog and cat guardians searching for answers to their companion’s health problems.  Many of these folks have been to multiple veterinarians and spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars looking for a solution to whatever ails their furry friend.  The question is almost always “What can I buy to help my dog/cat with ______?”  (Fill in the blank with any of dozens of ailments or symptoms).  They generally expect us to recommend an herb, supplement or remedy of some sort.

 

The answer, however, ALWAYS starts with one thing: FOOD.  Many of these animals have been eating dry and canned food from the grocery store – almost all of which is of questionable quality.  Not because their guardians did not have their pets’ best interests at heart, but because no one ever told these folks what a healthy diet IS for a dog or cat.  Pet owners often shop for “the best” food available – but they don’t realize they are shopping in the wrong place.

Grocery stores do not carry the high-quality, natural foods that support the optimal health of dogs and cats.  They carry mass produced, heavily marketed foods from the international giants of the grocery world such as Del Monte (9 Lives, Kibbles & Bits, Meow Mix); Mars (Pedigree, Whiskas, Sheba, Ceasar, Kal Kan); Nestle Foods (Purina, Friskies, Fancy Feast, Alpo, Mighty Dog, etc.); Procter and Gamble (Iams, Eukanuba); and Colgate-Palmolive (Hills Science Diet).  These companies own pet food manufacturers because they are the perfect way to turn waste products from human food manufacturing into highly profitable junk food for pets.

 

Of course, they don’t market it as junk food.  The bags are beautifully packaged with pictures of steaks and whole vegetables.  The commercials show happy, healthy pets chowing down and enjoying every bite while their loving owners look on.  The message is “If you care about your pet, feed them this!”  You might see colorful banners on the bag exclaiming “With real beef!”  But when you read the label, you find beef is not even in the first half dozen ingredients.

But then, you aren’t supposed to read that part of the label – the fine print.  The ingredients list is there by law.  If you read that (which you should after reading this) and find that corn is the main ingredient in the food you might just say “Wait, isn’t corn what cows and pigs and chickens eat?  Vegetarians eat corn.  Dogs and cats are carnivores.  They eat meat.”  Now you’re catching on!  And it typically isn’t even whole kernel corn, it is the corn by-products left over from manufacturing human food products.  And that “real beef” is going to be the parts of beef unfit for human consumption like intestines, udders, esophagi, and other scraps that couldn’t even be made into hamburger.  It will be called meat by-products or, at best, beef by-products.  Meat by-products includes 4-D animals: dead, dieing, diseased or disabled – including euthanized animals and pets.

 

So why pay more for natural pet food?  Because they are manufactured by companies that make DOG and CAT food, not human food.  They are made with human-grade ingredients: food that you or I could eat for dinner, not the stuff that belongs in the trash bin.  Natural pet foods cost a little more because the ingredients are more expensive, and they are worth it.  They are not sold in the grocery stores because the money is spent on ingredients, not marketing.

 

All those hundreds and thousands of dollars spent at the veterinarian’s office could so often be saved by spending just a little more each month on pet food. 

Consider this: 

Food Price First Ingredient
Case of Friskies Canned Cat Food $13.50 Meat by-products
Case of Wellness Canned Cat Food $ 22.60 Chicken, Beef, etc. (human-grade)

For simplicity’s sake, lets say you go through a case per month (24 – 5.5 oz cans).  For $9.10 per month, or $109.20 per year, you can feed your purring pal a food that will truly support his health from the inside out.

Food Price First Ingredient
 35 lb Bag of Purina Beneful Adult Dog Food $29.49 Ground yellow corn – and there is NO MEAT in this food.  Protein is from corn and soy.
30 lb bag of Nature’s Variety Prarie Beef & Barley $40.99    Beef meal (human-grade)

For $11.50 per month, or $138.00 per year, you can feed your wagging buddy a food formulated to really meat (pun intended) his needs.

Food Price First Ingredient
40 lb Bag of Hills Science Diet Adult Active Dog $42.99 Corn Meal.
40 lb Bag of Canidae All Life Stages Dog Food $38.99 Chicken meal (human-grade)

Hey!  The good stuff is CHEAPER! 

So for a little over $100 per year you can feed your dog or cat a diet that truly supports their health and well-being.  A food that is meat based, not grain based.  A food with ingredients a human could eat, not the stuff unfit for human consumption.  You could prevent many of the diseases and illnesses that lead to multiple vet visits, and ultimately save lots of money on vet bills.  Now that’s an easy decision to make!

Want to learn more?  Please see Food & Diet Information in our Holistic Healthcare Library.

Choosing a Chew

Almost all dogs love to chew, and many cats do, too.  There are many benefits to providing the right chew for your companion. 

Dental Health

Plaque removal
Chewing something that takes some time and concentration, like a bully stick or dental chew bone, helps scrape plaque off the teeth and control tartar.  (Brushing is still required, however, since harder chews do not scrape all the way to the base of the teeth at the gumline).

Stimulates gums
The chewing motion stimulates the gums which helps them stay healthier (along with brushing).

Maintain healthy jaw structure
Jaw bones, like the rest of the skeleton, are regenerated on a continual basis.  The regeneration of bone is stimulated by exercise; so if the jaw is not getting enough exercise it will begin to weaken over time.  Jaw health and strength is vital to the overall health of your companion’s mouth.

Mental Health

Relieve teething pain and irritation for puppies and kittens.
Puppies and kittens cut their deciduous or “baby” teeth between 2 and 6 weeks of age, and their permanent teeth between 4 and 6 months of age.  They are more susceptible to gingivitis at these times and chewing can help prevent this.  Chewing on something hard helps releive the pressure of teeth pushing through the gums.  Chewing also stimulates the growth and improves the health of growing teeth.

Relieve boredom
Many of us must leave our beloved companions home alone for hours at a time when we go to work each day.  Leaving them with a safe chew toy, such as a stuffed kong for dogs or a catnip toy for cats, can occupy them for awhile and even help tire them out.  When they are either chewing on the treat you provided or napping, they are less likely to chew on your shoes or scratch the furniture.

Relieve stress
Anxious dogs benefit greatly from chewing.  A nervous dog will gnaw tenaciously on a good chew and feel much better for it.  They need an outlet for all that nervous energy, and chewing is so much healthier than barking, yipping or nipping.  If you have an anxious companion, keep a stash of the right chews handy for those times when visitors come to call or stressful situations arise.  Your dog may even begin to like those events she used to fear once she realizes she gets a treat each time.

It’s fun!
Your companion will have a great time with the right chew!  Experiment with different types of chews for variety and enjoyment.  You’ll have fun watching them have fun.

Which chew to choose?

Selecting the proper chew for your companion is important for both enjoyment and safety.  Each individual will have certain preferences, so you may have to experiment until you find the perfect match for your dog or cat.  Here are attributes to consider:

Size
In general, small dogs will like smaller chews and big dogs larger ones – but there are certainly exceptions.  Some larger dogs prefer smaller chews and will ignore a large chew altogether.  Two dogs of the same size may need rather different size chews due to their chewing habits.  An aggressive chewer or “gobbler” will need a larger chew.  A dog who chews more cautiously will likely enjoy a smaller chew… unless you don’t mind him burying the leftovers beneath your sofa cushions or in your flower bed.  Big dogs might like the Bones Galore extra thick or braided bully stick varieties.  Little dogs might like shorter Beef Stix or Small Dental Chew Bones.

Texture
The harder the chew the longer it takes to gnaw it down.  Aggressive chewers will enjoy a harder chew like a bully stick, pressed rawhide, or grizzle sticks.  Dogs with a softer bite might enjoy the thinner “curly” tendons,  jerky strips or sweet potato chews.

A favorite for small dogs and cats are the Fish Stix.

Flavor or Aroma 
Most dogs like the natural flavor of dried meat and tendons, but some will enjoy flavored chews such as the Zukes Z-Ridge Bones.  Different flavor jerky strips are an excellent way to add variety to your pet’s chewing pleasures.

Cats are definitely taste-conscious.  Fish and chicken flavors are the favorites.  Catnip toys offer some fun and enticing chew time for kitties.  For more information about cats and chews see  Chews for Cats in our Holistic Healthcare Library.

Obesity on the Rise Among Cats and Dogs

In this day and age one can hardly turn on the television or open a magazine or newspaper without being reminded about the obesity epidemic confronting Americans.  As humans’ waistlines have been expanding, so have their companion animals.  What is behind the “broadening” of our furry friends?

A recent cover article in Business Week magazine detailed the rapid expansion of the pet industry and declared that the pampering of our pets has gotten out of hand.  While we don’t agree that taking better care of our best friends equates to over-pampering, their may be some truth here.  Treats used to be reserved for training purposes and special occasions – once a day at most.  Now there are so many treats on the market for dogs and cats it’s hard to resist not trying each new and tastier-than-ever-before variety.  Dogs are exceptional at plying their two-legged friends into reaching for the treat jar, and even those aloof cats have learned how to “beg” for treats.  What’s more, many pet guardians use treats to assuage their guilt of leaving their friends home alone all day. 

Another challenge in the battle of the bulge is the disconnect between perception and reality experienced by many people regarding their own weight and their companion’s weight as well.  According to a 2006 study by Pfizer Animal Health, 47 percent of veterinarians felt their canine patients were obese, while only 17 percent of dog owners agreed.  A study by the National Consumers League found the same to be true of the way humans perceive their own weight:  12% of those interviewed considered themselves obese, while actual body mass index calculations showed that 34% of the participants were actually obese. 

Solutions!

It’s time to listen to your veterinarian and take a good, honest look at your four legged friend.  See our archived article about “Weight Management for Dogs and Cats” for further information about evaluating your companion’s waistline.   

Reduce the number of treats and increase the play and quality time.  15 minutes of chase the fuzzy, feathery toy around the house is a great way to connect with your kitty and give him some exercise.  Some favorites: Kitty Lure Chaser and Catnip Pounce and Play.  For fetch crazy dogs there is nothing like the Chuck It, or for Frisbee lovers: Orbee-Tuff Zoom Flyer or the Flying Squirrel.  For smaller dogs, try a Babble Ball or Extra Small Squeaker Balls for indoor games.

Feed better food and less of it.  Most cats do not digest grains well, so a grain-free food is best.  Many dogs can handle some grain in their diet, as long as the PROTEIN source is of animal origin.  See “What You Need to Know About Your Pet’s Food” and  Evaluating Canned and Dry Food” for more information.  Feeding 2 or 3 meals is much better for your dog or cat’s health than leaving food out free-choice – both for their weight and for their long-term health.  In addition, digestive enzymes help your dog or cat get the most from the food they eat. 

Good, healthy food and exercise are the simplest and best solutions for both you and your companion in avoiding the obesity epidemic.

When the diagnosis is Cancer

No one is ever prepared for the diagnosis of cancer in their best friend.  50% of us, however, are likely to hear it at some time in our companion’s life.  We receive many questions at Only Natural Pet Store about the best way to treat cancer and the answer, unfortunately, is just not that simple.  Due to the complicated nature of most cancers and their treatment, we highly recommend a consultation with a holistically trained veterinarian.  Through the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association Referral List you can look for qualified veterinarians in your areaIf there are no holistic veterinarians near you, many will do phone consultations. We make an effort to provide some general recommendations for cancer care through the articles and question/answers about cancer in our Holistic Healthcare Library.  These contain information about diet and supplements that can be helpful: Cancer Information.   

In general, diet is the place to start.  Holistic veterinarians will frequently recommend a diet that is low-carbohydrate, moderate protein, and moderate to high fat for cancer patients.  Cancer cells utilize glucose from carbohydrates as fuel, so a low carbohydrate diet can be helpful in fighting cancer.  Many cancer cells cannot utilize fat as an energy source, and fat in the diet can help combat weight loss as well. 

When a home-prepared diet is just not possible, try ready made (frozen) raw food, freeze dried or dehydrated diets, or a very high-quality canned food without grains:

Frozen Raw Food

Freeze Dried

Dehydrated Food

High Quality Canned Foods for DogsChoose grain-free or low grain varieties, add fresh vegetables when possible

.High Quality Canned Foods for CatsChoose grain-free varieties. Adding finely ground fresh vegetables or freshly juiced vegetables such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, and carrots can be beneficial.  These contain natural antioxidants as well as providing enzymes to help break down the food. 

Often an Immune Support Complex, Antioxidants and possibly a Cleansing/Detoxifying Herbal Formula will be recommended.  For more information on these supplements and other steps to take in treating cancer, please read our article about Cancer Prevention and Care. 

Recognizing the Early Signs of Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infections are the number one reason cats are taken to the veterinarian and the fourth most common reason for dogs to visit the vet.  Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) are easier to treat if caught in the early stages.  UTI’s can be caused by bacteria, viruses, urinary crystals and even stress.  It is important to know the symptoms and have your companion checked by a veterinarian if you see them, or use a home kit such as the PetCheckup Home Health Kit to check for other indications of infection. 

Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection:
• Frequent urination
• Straining or difficulty urinating
• Blood in the urine
• Foul smelling urine
• Urination in inappropriate places
• Tender lower abdomen (in the area of the bladder)
• Fever
• Lethargy

The best course of action is, of course, prevention; which means a top quality diet and plenty of water, along with minimizing stress.  A meat based diet with little or no grain helps maintain a more acidic urine pH, which goes a long way to preventing UTI’s.  Please see our article about Lower Urinary Tract Problems for more information.  Also, for the latest information about the connection between ash & magnesium and urinary tract issues, check out Ash, Magnesium and FLUTD.

Itching and Scratching – Get to the Root of It

Itching and scratching is one of the top ten reasons dogs and cats visit the veterinarian.  The most common causes of itching include allergies, parasites, and skin infections.  It is important to investigate itchy skin and frequent scratching right away.  Allowing the problem to persist can lead to worse problems down the road including hot spots, staph and other skin infections.

The first step in determining the cause of the itch is to look for fleas – or rather look for signs of fleas since you often won’t see the critters themselves unless there are many of them on the animal.  Fleas are great at hiding in long fur.  To test for fleas use a fine-tooth flea comb on the area between your animal’s hips – just above the tail.  On long haired animals you many need to use a brush first to smooth the fur so you can get the comb through easily.  Comb for 5 to 10 strokes to remove a bit of loose hair, then press the hair and any dirt between two damp white paper towels.  If you see any rust colored or red spots appear, that is a sign of fleas.  If your animal has fleas, the faster you act the easier it will be to deal with.  See our article about A Natural Approach to Flea Control for more information.  Check out Only Natural Pet’s Flea Control Kits  for solutions.

If you have ruled out fleas, and there are no signs of a skin infection such as patches of missing fur or raised red areas, then consider allergies as a possibility.  Dogs and cats can have food, airborne, and contact allergies.  Getting allergies under control does not need to be complicated – often switching to a high quality allergy formula food and adding digestive enzymes and essential fatty acids to the diet will do the trick.  For more information about treating allergies see Alleviating Your Pet’s Itchy Skin in our newletter archives.  Only Natural Pet’s Allergy Kits can help simplify treatment.