Dog & Cat Nutrition – part 1

I just shared an article from Dogs Naturally Magazine giving ’10 Simple Rules to Get You Started’ on raw feeding your dog.  This prompted me to repost this article that I wrote a while ago on dog and cat nutrition:

Let’s start by looking at the commercial food market…

The food we feed our pets has changed considerably over the years, as indeed has our own diet.  Years ago, animals were fed on scraps and left-overs from the food that we cooked for ourselves, so essentially they were eating ‘human’ food, however as our lifestyles have become busier and we now eat more ‘convenience food’, so our pets are being given more branded pet food.  But is this a positive step?

Pet foods have become a “multibillion dollar industry” according to Donald R Strombeck, author of “Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative” (quoted in an article in The Bark Issue 42: May/Jun 2007).  The Daily Mail, in January 2010, stated that the “pet food industry is valued at £2 billion and growing.”  Products are advertised as being “the best” and “complete” and in fact they say that human food should not be given to animals, but is this the case?  Unfortunately advertising laws around pet foods are less strict than those for human food and no-one really monitors the truth of what is being said.  Also, there is little redress if the claims turn out to be false.

Veterinary students have often had very little teaching on what constitutes a healthy diet for the animals they will be caring for.  Much of the information they actually receive comes from the pet food industry itself and this is then what the vets tell their patients.  Manufacturers sponsor food displays in vet surgeries.  Hill Science Plan sponsored the British Veterinary Association’s Congress in 2009 and signed a partnership with the British Veterinary Dental Association to sponsor animal tooth care.  Royal Canin has partnerships with leading veterinary schools and Universities and they run Pet Health Counsellor Courses.  Many pet websites are affiliated in some way with pet food corporations, in fact the Pet Health Council, described as an independent website, is sponsored by the Petfood Manufacturers Association.  They claim “that processed food is best”, warning: ‘It would not be possible to feed your pet an adequate home-prepared diet” (“Is the pet food you’re serving up killing your 4-legged friend?”, Daily Mail online, 20 January 2010)

Most of the vets who specialise in nutrition are taught using information from the industry and end up working for them.  Also, most research funding comes from pet food producers which is a conflict of interest.  Even organisations such as the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) are made up of people form the industry.

In part 2 I’ll continue looking at processed pet foods and why these might not actually be as healthy as the advertising claims.

If you are interested in nutrition for your pet and would like to explore this further, contact me for a no-obligation chat where we can discuss your situation and see what simple changes you might be able to make to enhance their wellbeing.  My contact details are:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

You can also read more about my work on my website:

www.equenergy.com/

 

You can read the full text of this article here.

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Bereavement and Loss – Part 5 of 7

In this section I will explore some of the ways that people can be supported through their grief.

GPs have traditionally often prescribed medication such as antidepressants though they are now more aware of the benefits of providing the person with the opportunity to talk to someone who understands.  They might therefore prescribe a course of Grief Counselling.  People might also be encouraged to make sure they get enough exercise, spend some time out of doors in the fresh air and natural light, and also to eat properly and try to get sufficient sleep.

Our animal companions can also suffer from grief following the loss of a guardian or animal friend which can lead to behavioural changes such as being withdrawn, depressed or refusing to eat.  They too need exercise, a healthy diet and time outdoors.

There are various complementary therapies that can support both people and animals in times of loss.  I personally offer Reiki and EFT:

Reiki / Healing can be very beneficial, not only after the person or animal has died but also, in the case of illness, as a support before and even at the death itself.  The healer needs to be clear that healing does not necessarily mean that a person or animal will be ‘cured’.  In fact death can be the ultimate healing, because the person or animal has been ‘released’ to move on.  The person left behind might not be ready to see things in these terms, but they can be supported to seek healing for their animal / friend / family member and themselves to give them a sense of peace, acceptance and love.

After the death the healer can give the person whatever time and space they need to explore their feelings in a safe and non-judgemental environment.  This can also be an opportunity for them to explore their beliefs around death and what happens beyond this.  Death can be seen as a natural part of the Cycle of Life.  It is not something to be feared or avoided and does not even have to be seen as the End – it is more of a transition.  Of course the person or animal is no longer here in the same form and we might be sad that we cannot interact with them in the same way but we be happy for them that they are no longer suffering and in time can reach a point where we can celebrate and remember fondly all the wonderful times we shared and be grateful for their presence in our lives.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT, sometimes known as ‘tapping’) is a great support when dealing with painful emotions.  Using Chinese Meridian lines – the same ones that are used in acupuncture, but without any needles – EFT works to diffuse emotional intensity meaning that it is no longer overwhelming.  This allows the person to be able to think clearly again and to regain a sense of perspective and balance.

In Part 6 I will look at another complementary therapy that can be a very effective support in times of loss.

If you are currently experiencing any of these issues and would like to talk, please feel free to get in touch.  There will be no obligation to make a booking, it’s just an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have and to see if what I offer might be a good fit for you.  My contact details are:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

If you would like to take a look at my website, you can find it at:

www.equenergy.com/

 

You can read the whole of this article here

 

BEREAVEMENT AND LOSS – Part 1 of 7

The issue of Bereavement and Loss comes up in my practice on a fairly regular basis and so I decided to polish up this article that I wrote a while ago and re-present it as a series of blogposts.

In Part 1, I will look at bereavement in regards to the animals that share our lives.  In later sections I will go on to explore Bereavement and Loss itself in more depth, including the ‘Grief Cycle’, followed by some steps that you might find helpful for anyone you know who is struggling to deal with a loss that they have experienced.

I recently met with a networking colleague of mine, Helen Lloyd, who is setting up a new business in Yatton called Pet Angels Parlour.  You can also find her on Facebook.  This is what Helen says about her work:

“Pets are part of the family, and just like family members, their passing needs to be treated with the same level of respect and care. Often, pet cremation is not handled with the sensitivity and compassion that owner’s desire, which is why we do what we do.”

Helen and I are both passionate about supporting people in times of bereavement and loss.  For me this is not only around the death of a loved one (as you will see below there are many other forms of Loss that we can experience during our lifetime), though this is often the most common interpretation and it’s certainly the focus of Helen’s work.

I strongly believe that people also need support in the period of time leading up to their loved one’s passing.  In fact I recently shared a post on my Facebook page about ‘Anticipatory Grief‘, which is a little talked-about and much misunderstood phenomenon.

Being a pet guardian can often bring with it another element, that of having to decide if it’s time to have our animal put to sleep.  This can be such a difficult and painful decision and carries with it a huge weight of responsibility, and yet it can actually be an amazing gift to our animal friends.

Even just living with an aging pet and allowing them to grow old gracefully can be a challenge, but also a privilege.  If you find yourself in this situation please remember there is support available.  You do not have to go through this alone.  For example I can offer Reiki to you and your animal, to support them as they experience the challenges of their senior years – pain, stiffness, declining energy and health – and also to be there for you as a listening, non-judgemental, understanding ear, and to offer energy balancing which will help to keep you grounded and centred.   I also use Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT, or ‘tapping’) which can help in dealing with emotional pain, limiting beliefs and fears around death and dying.

If this is something you would like to explore, please contact me for an initial, free consultation.  There will be no obligation to make a booking, it’s just an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have and to see if what I offer might be a good fit for you and your animal.  My contact details are:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

If you would like to take a look at my website, you can find it at:

www.equenergy.com/

You can read the whole of this article here

Case study of a dog with a spinal condition (Part 4 of 4)

In the previous 3 posts I’ve shared what happened at a recent zoopharmacognosy (self selection) session with a canine client of mine, Willow.  The session was offered via Skype by Rachel Windsor-Knott of My Animal Matters.  Having asked Willow’s owner to fill out a detailed consultation form Rachel then sent a box of samples and, during the call, described how to offer these to Willow.  Rachel’s selection of herbs and oils was spot on, and Willow worked with everything in the box.

Rachel also recommended that Willow’s owner offer her Coconut oil in addition to the remedies to make sure that she was choosing the macerates for their herb content, rather than for fats (see further information in Part 3).  Willow proved to be very keen on this and her owner realised that it has also been helping her skin.  (Willow had had a tendency to lick at her paws causing redness and broken skin but this has now cleared up.)

Rachel added Spirulina to Willow’s selection of remedies.  This is helpful in cases of anxious behaviours and joint problems.  It is detoxifying and helps to stimulate the immune system.  It’s also a great supplement for senior dogs or those who are a little run-down as it is rich in protein and nutrients.  Willow proved to be very fond of this too!

Following the initial session, Willow’s owner continued to offer the remedies, particularly the Peppermint, Marjoram Sweet and Violet Leaf oils, the Comfrey and Arnica macerates and the Rose water.  To these she then added the Coconut Oil and Spirulina.  She shared this message with us when her box of remedies arrived:

Willow was so excited when your parcel arrived and was ripping off the bubble wrap with me! She’s loving the arnica, comfrey, violet leaf (rubs on side of head with it and mouthing/chewing the cloth) and marjoram on her back, more than the others… She is much more relaxed and softer… 

Rachel had included small sachets of Devil’s Claw and Barley Grass which Willow took for a few days. (Devils Claw is good for arthritis, inflammatory pain and musculoskeletal issues.  Barley Grass supports animals with anxious and hyperactive behaviours and those with skin conditions.  It is rich in nutrients, particularly magnesium). Her owner then sent us this message:

Not keen on devils claw today so offered barley wheat grass … then offered spirulina… Lucky I put a towel down, specks of green everywhere! … Still wanting marjoram on her back and generally sleeps with either violet leaf/peppermint. 

Willow is twitching now, she hasn’t done that for a while.

Throughout this whole process I was also offering Reiki to Willow to help her body enter into it’s Rest and Repair mode.  She can tend to be an anxious dog who is always on the alert so the Reiki helped her to relax so that her body could heal and so that the oils and other remedies could work effectively.  Several of the remedies she chose were also supporting her on this emotional level.  This is a picture of Willow after one of our Reiki sessions:

In our fifth session, Willow’s owner said that had she not seen it for herself she would not have believed the change in her dog over the last month.! From having been very wobbly on her back legs and walking with a rather odd, wide-legged gait, scuffing her toes, Willow now almost looks normal when she walks.  She had lost some muscle tone but is slowly building this up again as she regains strength and feeling.  She now knows when she needs to go outside for toileting and so there have been no further accidents in the house.  Her owner is overjoyed!  When she’d first been given the diagnosis from the vet she had thought she might soon have to say goodbye to her beloved dog whereas now it seems that Willow has been given a new lease of life!

If you’d like to know more about how these therapies could be used to support an animal in your life please get in touch:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

For Reiki and META-Health information you can see my website:

www.equenergy.com

For information on Zoopharmacognosy (self selection) see:

www.myanimalmatters.co.uk

 

(You can read the whole article here)

Case study of a dog with a spinal condition (Part 3 of 4)

In the last 2 posts in this series I’ve described a zoopharmacognosy (self selection) session offered by Rachel Windsor-Knott of My Animal Matters to one of my canine clients, Willow.

Having offered all of the remedies that Rachel had sent – of which Willow accepted every single one – we then put each remedy on the floor and watched to see what she would do.  She lay down with her jaw parallel to the Peppermint oil.  Throughout she had kept returning to this cloth and Rachel suspected that, as she was inhaling rather than licking, she was using it for it’s clearing properties, more than as a pain killer.

As Willow was lying there she began to twitch gently, as if she was dreaming, and she did appear to be asleep. (During the session she had also shown blinks, yawns, licking, chewing and stretches as she worked with the oils, processing and releasing).

Rachel recommended continuing to offer this selection to Willow, particularly the Peppermint, Marjoram Sweet and Violet Leaf oils, the Comfrey and Arnica macerates and the Rose water.  She also suggested adding rice bran oil and / or coconut oil* to Willow’s diet to ensure that when she chooses the macerates this is done solely for the herb content rather than the fat.  (Fat is essential for nerves so she might be choosing these remedies for this as well, particularly as she’s on a dry food diet which can result in low levels of healthy fats.  Coconut oil is also antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral so helps with infections.  The vet had said that this is a possible cause for the lesion in Willow’s spine so this oil might be beneficial in this way too.  It is also good for the skin and coat, and supports the thyroid.)

The day after the session Willow’s owner posted this message:

Hey! Just wanted to say – Wow!! Willow’s legs have improved dramatically! After only one session! So I’m very hopeful and can’t wait to continue on with it. 

Less collapsing … she also seems more relaxed and affectionate and her muscles are softer. She is always tense and alert being the alpha dog and protects the house… this morning seems a bit tense/back to normal but no collapsing yet, plus she told us she needed to go outside for a poo (she has been having a lot of accidents so we have to make sure she goes out regularly) so she is definitely feeling her back end and legs again. 

Thanks again! 

Rachel replied: 

That’s amazing. Which makes total sense with the peppermint in particular as it’s able to stimulate new nerve pathways.

Next week I’ll share further information on how things have been progressing for Willow since this session.

 

*Please note that fats should not be offered to dogs who suffer from pancreatitis

 

(You can read the whole article here)

Case study of a dog with a spinal condition (Part 2 of 4)

Last week I started sharing a little about a recent zoopharmacognosy (self selection) session with a canine client of mine.

Rachel Windsor-Knott, of My Animal Matters, sent a box of samples to Willow’s owner and, via Skype, talked us through how to offer them and what signals to watch for.

Having offered some essential oils, we then moved on to the 2 macerates that Rachel had thought would help Willow: Comfrey and Arnica.  Willow devoured these, lapping up all that Rachel had sent.  (Comfrey – also known as ‘knit bone’ – is good for fractures and also helps in cases of soft tissue damage.  It eases inflammation of the stomach, too, so can be helpful in easing the side effects of pain killing medication.  Arnica helps with bruising, muscular injury and inflammatory pain.  It is also an immune system stimulant.)

Rachel then suggested offering the Rose and Valerian Root waters.  Willow licked and chewed at the bottles so her owner poured some out and again she lapped these up and wanted more.  She seemed to have a slight preference for the Rose water.  (Rose is used in cases of anger and resentment, hormone balancing, feelings of rejection and emotional wounds, trauma and unwanted memories.  Valerian root is a muscle relaxant and sedative which helps in cases of anxious behaviours.)

We then moved on to Marjoram Sweet.  This was on a cloth and again Willow showed interest.  Her energy come up and she appeared quite playful.  She approached her owner which made Rachel think she might want to have the oil applied.  Rachel gave instructions for Willow’s owner to rub the cloth on her hands and offer these to Willow.  Willow accepted this so her owner gently rubbed her hands first on Willow’s chest, then her neck and shoulders and on down to her back.  Willow then turned  round and presented her rump and back for the oil to be applied there too!  (This oil is an antispasmodic, helps to ease stiffness in the muscles and is also very comforting in cases of grief.)

Lastly there was a cloth with Violet Leaf oil.  Willow showed great interest in this, chewing at the cloth.  (This oil is very supportive when there is anticipation of pain.  It is comforting to the heart and helps those of a nervous disposition.)

Next week I’ll talk about how we drew the session to a close and how things progressed for Willow.

 

(You can read the whole article here)

Case study of a dog with a spinal condition (Part 1 of 4)

I’ve recently been working with a canine client, Willow, who has been experiencing loss of strength and sensitivity in her hind legs.  The vet diagnosed a lesion, within her spinal canal but outside of the spinal cord, causing compression at the T7 vertebra and resulting in weakness and loss of sensation.

Over the next 4 weeks I’ll describe how Willow’s owner, another therapist and I have worked together to support Willow and I’ll also share how she’s doing now.

I began by taking a history of Willow’s condition and reading the vet report.  Having done a basic META-Health analysis I felt that, in addition to the Reiki that I would be offering, she would benefit from a zoopharmacognosy (self selection) session and so I recommended Rachel Windsor-Knott of My Animal Matters, particularly as she now offers consultations via Skype.

Willow’s owner went ahead with this straight away, contacting Rachel, filling in the consultation form and booking in a session, which I was also able to attend.

Rachel had put together a box of oil and herb samples that, having read the vet report and Willow’s information, she thought Willow might find helpful.  She started by asking the owner to offer the Ginger essential oil (warming, soothing and analgesic).  Willow sniffed and accepted the oil – a gentle ‘yes’.

Rachel then moved on to Peppermint and Birch (on cloths) both of which Willow sniffed, seeming to favour the Peppermint.  (Peppermint is an anti-inflammatory, a digestive stimulant – often selected by animals taking strong painkillers – and helps in cases of nerve damage as it is clarifying and stimulating.  Birch is good for inflammatory pain, muscular aches and trapped nerves.)

Next was German Chamomile which Willow again accepted.  (This oil is good in cases of anxiety and tension and can help to support inflamed tissues.)

Next week I’ll cover some of the other remedies that Willow selected including macerated oils, flower water and some more essential oils.

 

(You can read the whole article here)