Dog & Cat Nutrition part 5 of 5

In part 4 of this series I looked at the BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) diet.  Some people, however, have voiced concerns about feeding raw food to pets.  The Pet Food Manufacturers Association says:

“There are concerns that feeding raw meat to pets can present a human/animal risk, such as salmonella contamination. In the case where only raw meat and bones are fed, there is an additional concern among vets and animal nutritionists that this exclusive diet may not meet the pet’s needs.”

However if the food is bought from a reputable company they should be happy to provide information on their sources and these should be of very high quality.  If appropriate care is taken with handling, presentation and storage of the food it should not pose significant risk.

Another option is to return to the ‘old fashioned’ method of cooking and preparing food from scratch at home and including enough to feed any animals in the household.  This would also benefit the health of the human members of the family as they too would be eating fewer processed foods.  Cooked meat and vegetables are easier for animals to digest which can support absorption of nutrients and help to avoid upset stomachs.

Whichever option is chosen, for anyone deciding to change their pet’s diet this should be done sensitively.  A dog or cat who has eaten only processed foods up to this point needs time for their digestion and palate to adjust.  Sometimes guardians are put off feeding ‘human’ food to the animals in their care because they become so enthusiastic that they radically alter the diet overnight and then complain that it has made the animal ill when it is sick or has diarrhoea.  This would actually be a ‘normal’ response to such a sudden change.  Instead the new food should be introduced slowly, gradually reducing the amount of tinned food or kibble and replacing it with some meat and vegetables.  Over time the processed foods can be removed entirely if desired.

Hopefully as we become more aware of our own health needs we will in turn be more sensitive to the needs of the animals in our care.  Just as our wellbeing depends on our lifestyle, diet and exercise, so it is with our companion animals.  Many people are becoming more health aware and diet conscious so hopefully this will have knock-on benefits for the animals too.

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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Dog & Cat Nutrition part 3 of 5

As most pet guardians now spend less time preparing food for themselves and their children it is not surprising that they are less likely to give their animals a varied, unprocessed diet.  Many people buy commercial pet food because they honestly belief it is best for their pet, and because it is convenient and affordable.  However processing requires several steps and it only requires a small error at any one stage to result in problems.  Buying processed food takes control further from the consumer.  An article in the Daily Mail stated that “few people are aware of the little publicised concerns about processed pet foods” (“Is the pet food you’re serving up killing your 4-legged friend?”).  Some processed foods have been linked to poor behaviour in dogs, and even cancer.  However people are now becoming more aware thanks to social media.  There are pet-dedicated chatrooms where “increasing numbers of people have been sharing concerns about processed pet food” (ibid).

Many cases of urinary and kidney problems have been linked to dry food.  This is one of the main causes of death in cats and is often caused because they are chronically dehydrated by just eating dry food.  Manufacturers say that cats eating this food should always have plenty of fresh water available, but “even if they drink it is often not enough to ensure optimum urinary health” (Lisa Pierson, pet nutritionist).

One third of household pets is now overweight.  Also, chronic conditions, such as diabetes, kidney and liver disease, heart disease and dental problems (all diet related) are on the increase.  In addition there has been a rise in the number of cases of allergies (particularly skin problems) and digestive issues, despite veterinary advice on specialist foods for these conditions.  Richard Allport, a vet of over 36 years’ experience, based in Hertfordshire, says: “my advice … is always this: switch your pet’s diet to fresh food and often it’s so successful that altering the diet is all that’s needed to ‘cure’ a pet’s health problem.”

In part 4 I’ll look at what an alternative diet for your pet might look like and why you might like to consider making this change.

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.

Dog & Cat Nutrition part 2 of 5

In the first part of this series I started to explore the commercial pet food market and why it can be so difficult to get reliable information on what constitutes a good diet for your cat or dog.

Supermarkets now have large sections devoted to selling pet food, but often these are the cheaper brands.  It can be very difficult to trace the source of the ingredients but in order to keep the price low, these must be coming from the cheaper end of the market.  Many pet foods contain what are known as ‘4-D ingredients’. An article entitled “Top Worst Dry Dog Food Brands” on the Holistic and Organix Pet Shoppe website states that:

“4-D chicken is meat and by-products that have been derived from chickens that were rejected by food inspectors who classified the chickens as not fit for human consumption because they were “Dead, Dying, Disabled or Diseased” at the time of inspection. Any chemicals that existed within that animal, would still be in it when dead. Meat by-products are nothing more than slaughterhouse waste; waste that’s been banned for use in human food and then sold to the pet food industry. It’s what’s left over after the slaughter and classified as inedible waste, unfit for human consumption.”

Holistic and Organix Pet Shoppe © 2012-2013

If you study the labels on, for example, dog food, you will see that the main ingredient is usually ‘cereal’ which is used as a bulking and binding agent.  Cereal has little nutritional value for dogs and in fact many can develop allergic reactions to it, however it can help to keep the price down and make the food look more appealing — to the human buyer.  If the cereal is not fully cooked it can be indigestible.  Sometimes there are problems with a particular batch of kibble because it isn’t thoroughly cooked and animals eating it get diarrhoea, even though they might have eaten the same food before with no problems.

dry food

With dry foods, the ingredients are cooked twice.  This results in the ‘ash’ often mentioned in the ingredients list.  This is known to be carcinogenic.  Other problems, too, are much more common than with canned or homemade foods. Altered proteins may contribute to food intolerances, food allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease.  Some brands of dry food, particularly puppy food, recommend that it should be moistened before being given to the animal to eat, however “bacteria multiply rapidly on moistened dry food” so if the animal only eats a little and the rest is left for them to come back to later “it is a good way for them to get diarrhea”(Donald R Strombeck, ibid).

In part 3 I’ll look at why these processed pet foods have become so popular and some health concerns related to feeding this kind of diet.

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.

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.

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)