When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, many of us think about how we can improve our own health. But what about a resolution to optimize the health of our dogs and cats? Where would we begin? Well, I recommend focusing on five key areas. Whether you set goals for one or two of them or decide to jump in with both feet, your pet will soon reap the rewards of improved health.
Many dogs and cats are on commercial pet foods that are full of carbohydrates, additives, and fillers. There is much debate about raw vs. commercial diets, grain-free or grain diets, and prescription diets. I’m not gonna go into all of that or recommend a specific pet food, but you should do your research. I encourage you to look at the ingredients. Are they real foods or a list of words you cannot pronounce? Is your pet on a specific diet for health reasons, and if so, how long should they stay on it?
For resources, I recommend watching the documentary Pet Fooled and periodically checking Dog Food Advisor to keep up with pet food recalls. It’s important to consider how nature intended our pets to eat. In the wild, they would consume foods such as organs, glands, and vegetables. I’m not against table scrapes, if you are eating properly. But remember, some foods aren’t safe for pets. If that’s a concern, learn more at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
When changing to a different food, make sure you do it gradually to avoid any stomach upset. The first week, I recommend replacing a quarter of their current food with the new food. The second week, replace half. The third week, replace three-quarters with the new food. This process can sometimes take a month. Just make sure you’re giving your pet the best food you’re able to provide and top it off with healthy, fresh snacks that are safe for them to eat.
Although there are many wonderful pet foods out there, the truth is that they still lack many essential vitamins and minerals that can only be derived from fresh, whole foods. I mentioned earlier that dogs and cats in the wild also survive on animal tissue and plant material. Whether they’re hunting small animals such as mice, voles, rabbits, birds, and insects or catching larger prey with the help of a pack, they will consume the entire animal, including the internal organs and glands, the muscle meat, and the bones—all ingredients you won’t find in commercial pet foods. That’s why we need to help fill the nutritional gaps in their diets. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than Standard Process. They make supplements for humans, dogs, cats, and horses. These products combine targeted nutrient sources from raw plant ingredients, organ and glandular tissue, and specialized protein extracts—and pets love them.
At times supplementations can be confusing. But you can keep it simple with Canine Whole Body Support and Feline Whole Body Support. These products provide general support to a range of essential body systems. They are beneficial to growing puppies and kittens, aged pets, performance animals, and pets with multisystem dysfunction or chronic debilitating illnesses. Providing balanced nutritional support for daily maintenance as well as cellular nutrition for endocrine tissues helps promote the recovery and function of remaining viable cells in compromised patients. Depending on your pet’s overall well-being, additional Standard Process supplements may be necessary. Contact your veterinarian to discuss the best approach for your pet. (Click here to find to find a veterinarian that carries these products.)
I encourage you to learn about the organic farms and manufacturing facility at Standard Process. Another great resource is the first of its kind Standard Process Nutrition Innovation Center, which focuses on research and development.
Tap water contains fluoride and other chemicals that can damage your pet’s health. Fresh spring water is your best bet as it contains vitamins and minerals. Sometimes referred to as “live” water, it’s water in its purest form, free of contaminants like copper, lead, bacteria, and other toxins picked up from pipes as tap water passes through. I drink Eldorado Natural Spring Water and encourage you to check it out!
Exercise is as essential for the health of our pets as it is for us. The duration and type of exercise should be tailored to each pet’s needs, but a general rule of thumb for dogs is to make sure they’re active between a half-hour to two hours every day. For some dogs, a daily walk is fine, but that’s probably not enough physical activity for large, energetic breeds. You might consider jogging, cycling, swimming, agility courses, or a daily game of fetch. And who knows, it might even motivate you to know that you’re improving both your pet’s health and your overall well-being at the same time.
#5. Love and Nurture
Lastly, be sure to love and nurture your pet. Most of us probably feel we already do that, but are you taking time out of each day to really be with your pet? Research shows that simply petting dogs and cats lowers levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Further, social interaction between people and pets actually increases oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is the feel-good hormone that also bonds mothers to babies. So spend some quality time with your pet, whether it’s in the morning with a cup of coffee or after dinner on the sofa. What’s good for you is good for your pet.
May you, your family, and your pets be blessed with happiness and good health in the new year!
Images from iStock/piyaset (main), Jevtic (post).