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 7 of 7

In this, the last part of the series, I will continue to explore some recommended complementary therapies.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I would be very interested to hear from you about anything which you have found helpful.

 Bach Flower Remedies are a very gentle way of supporting both people and animals.

Below is a list of some of the essences that can be used:

Rescue Remedy – this is a combination of 6 essences that restore clarity and calm, and reduce panic and shock. Rescue is a good choice for survivors whenever death has occurred suddenly and unexpectedly, as well as when the individual has passed after a long, physically and/or emotionally arduous period.

Water Violet –specifically indicated for the processing of grief. This is called for when the person / animal withdraws from company, seeking solace in isolation. It will typically will bring on a short-term release of tears as grief is released and processed.

Honeysuckle –for those who pine away for lost loved ones, living overmuch in the memory of what was. Honeysuckle helps regain normal, healthy remembrance while allowing one to move on and face the present hopefully.

Gorse –when the person seems to have lost hope.

Gentian – the flower essence for setbacks.  Some individuals are prone to taking difficult life events to heart, and losing faith that life is overall good.

Olive –for exhaustion. Olive restores emotional energy, and in doing so, improves the ability to regain physical energy and stamina.

Hornbeam – an excellent choice when grief drains one’s enthusiasm about life.

Star of Bethlehem – the remedy specifically for shock, pain, and numbness brought on by trauma.

Elm –for overwhelm. Indicated when this loss has added yet another strain, and the individual appears hard pressed to handle one more thing. Elm restores stamina.

Mimulus – the remedy for fears, a not uncommon response to loss.  Mimulus increases courage in the face of uncertainty.

Aspen – the essence for anxiety.  Aspen reduces apprehension.

Clematis – the remedy for the drifting, daydream-y, in your own world response that can be an avoidance of painful reality. Clematis restores mental clarity and presence of mind.

Other therapies that can be very beneficial include acupuncture and massage which can help to unblock ‘stuck’ energies helping people and animals to move on through their grief journey.

 

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 6 of 7

In this section I will mention some other complementary therapies that can be a very effective support for anyone who is grieving.

One is Homeopathy.  There are several possible grief remedies.  The most appropriate will depend on the person / animal, their symptoms and the situation.

Some options are listed below:

Ignatia – This is the first remedy a Homeopathic Practitioner thinks of when someone has suffered the loss of a loved one.  This remedy often applies when there are symptoms of a lump in the throat, spasms in the body, feelings of disappointment in your life’s dreams, and an overall feeling that you must keep your grief suppressed and under control.

Natrum Muriaticum – This remedy is often indicated in a romantic loss in very introverted people who hold everything in.  They feel the loss as a breaking in half of their own identity.  They will cry horribly while alone, looking at pictures and listening to music, yet dread to show their feelings in public.  This Homeopathic remedy is especially indicated in cases where long term illness progressed from the loss.

Arnica – is a remedy indicated where the loss was perceived as a blow.  Often this is a financial loss such as a job or investment crash.  In this case you would feel hurt, bruised, and tender and not want to engage with the hard world.  The opposite could be the case when you toughen up and engage life in a blunt forceful manner in order to regain what you lost.

Magneseum Muriaticum – This remedy can be indicated after the loss of a care giver where you feel abandoned and forsaken, left on your own and unable to fend for yourself.  This can be accompanied with digestive ailments.

Phosphoric Acid: for those exhausted from grief. They cannot perceive information as well as before. Debility comes from grief, mental shock, unhappy love, homesickness or even bad news. They will give short answers and they dislike talking. They may say that ‘life is useless’ and everything feels ‘dark’. The biggest characteristic of someone needed Phos Acid is indifference to the things that they used to love.

Causticum:  for those suffering a weakened nervous system and connective tissues. There is often a history of slowly progressive debility, stiffness, and even paralysis. The ‘Causticum’ personality is serious, intense and sensitive and often overly sympathetic. This is especially true when hearing of unfortunate people, animals or events.

*I recommend seeking advice from a qualified therapist before taking any remedies.

 

In the last section I will continue my list of recommended complementary therapies.

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 3 of 7

In this section I will look at how the work of Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross changed how we look at the grieving process.

Dr Kübler-Ross, who pioneered methods in the support and counselling of personal trauma, grief and grieving, proposed a model of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance).  This is actually a model for change generally and as such can help people to understand and deal with personal reaction to trauma.  It is not limited to death and dying.

Her book, On Death and Dying (1969) was quite revolutionary at the time and was a catalyst towards changing previously held beliefs that bereavement should not be discussed and that death is a taboo subject.  This was very gratefully received by carers and by people who were dying or who had been bereaved, perhaps indicating the level of denial and suppression that had existed previously.  Dr Kübler-Ross gave people ‘permission’ to feel their feelings and to talk about them openly, perhaps for the first time.

The ‘Grief Cycle’ was never intended to be a rigid series of sequential or uniformly timed steps. It’s a model or a framework rather than a process.  A model is less specific – more of a shape or guide. People do not always experience all of the five ‘grief cycle’ stages.  Some stages might be revisited. Some stages might not be experienced at all.  Transition between stages can be more of an ebb and flow, rather than a progression.  The five stages are not linear; neither are they equal in their experience.  People’s grief, and other reactions to emotional trauma, are as individual as a fingerprint.

This model is useful because it recognises that people have to pass through their own individual journey of coming to terms with death and bereavement (and other kinds of loss), after which they usually reach an acceptance of reality, which then enables them to cope.  When we know more about what is happening and why we are experiencing these sometimes strange and frightening sensations, it often makes life easier.

Next week we will look at each stage of this cycle in a little more depth.

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 2 of 7

 

 In this section I will explore the feelings that we can experience following the loss of a person or thing that is close to us.  It often results in a sense of grief or bereavement.  This is a very natural response when something to which we are attached, disappears from our lives.  We often associate this feeling with the death of a loved one but it can also be experienced at other times, for example divorce, the loss of a job, or having to move away from a place that is familiar to you.   Some types of loss can be particularly difficult to cope with as they are often seen as less important in our society, for example miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a beloved animal.  People might not understand the depth of feeling that the sufferer is experiencing and will sometimes tell them to ‘pull themselves together’ and ‘move on’.

Loss can also be felt about an event which is anticipated but has not yet happened, for example children growing up and leaving home, the ageing process, or when a person or animal is given a terminal diagnosis and they and their family try to come to terms with the fact that they will probably die sooner than they had expected to.

Everyone’s experience of grief is highly personal and is based upon their unique perception of the situation (Shapiro, 1993).  Events trigger different reactions in different people and our responses to trauma and emotional shock can vary hugely.  They can also depend on our past experiences, beliefs and values.  In addition they can be influenced by the other things going on in our lives at the time which can result in us feeling particularly vulnerable or sensitive.  However there are a range of common emotions that people experience.  These include feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, fatigue, helplessness, shock, yearning, emancipation, relief and numbness.

People can also experience a range of physical sensations such as tightness in the chest and throat, hollowness in the stomach and breathlessness.  Thought patterns can be affected too, resulting in disbelief, confusion, preoccupation, hallucinations and a sense of the presence of the lost person or object.  These might then lead to a range of behaviours including lack of sleeping, appetite disturbances, absentmindedness, social withdrawal, dreams of the deceased, avoiding reminders of the deceased, searching, calling out, sighing, restless overactivity, crying, visiting places or carrying objects that remind the survivor of the deceased and treasuring objects that belonged to the deceased (Worden, 2005; Geldard & Geldard, 2001; Bowlby 1980).

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)