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7 Things Your Pet Wants and Needs to Stay Healthy and Disease-Free

As a practicing veterinarian, I know that all pet owners try to do their best for their pets. However, if your pet could talk, what would he say he really needs to stay in great health? Having worked with pet owners for many years to devise a health plan for each pet, there are several essential components that must be addressed to maximize health and minimize disease.

Here are 7 things your pet would ask for if he could talk:

”Feed me a healthy diet.”
Feeding the proper diet is the foundation upon which any integrative pet care program begins. Simply put, your pet is what he/she eats. Most pet owners feed whatever is recommended by their veterinarians, pet store consultant, or whatever food seems good based upon an advertisement. However, many of these foods contain by-products and chemicals which are not healthy for your pet and which may pose a risk to your pet's health (see the sidebar for a discussion of what may be in your pet's current diet.) Your pet wants to eat a healthy diet, designed to maximize his ability to fight off diseases by minimizing inflammation in the body. The best diet is a natural food, free of by-products and chemicals, and loaded with healthy protein, carbohydrates, and fats, and containing antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Foods containing enzymes and probiotics deserve an extra look as well.


”Vaccinate me to prevent disease, but only when absolutely necessary.”
Current research shows that most pets do not need annual immunizations. Most veterinarians are moving towards an alternative approach, such as vaccinating pets every 3 years. However, I believe a more individual approach involves the use of an annual blood antibody test called a titer test. This test measures your pet's antibodies and determines if and when your pet might need vaccinations. If the titer is low, your pet can be vaccinated; if the titer is normal, no vaccine is needed. This approach allows only those vaccines that are absolutely necessary to be given when needed.


”Please keep parasites away from me, but only use those medications that fit my needs.”
It's important to prevent problems like heartworms, fleas, and ticks, as these parasites cause various diseases. While oral monthly heartworm preventive medication is important (I have not found any proven natural preventives,) most pets do not need year-round chemical flea and tick control. Short-term use of flea and tick preventives can be used when needed, or a more natural approach may even be a better and safer alternative.


"I know you take supplements to stay healthy. Make sure I get what I need as well.” Daily supplements can provide your pet additional nutrients to stay healthy and help ward off diseases. Giving your pet supplements containing antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotics improve digestion, decrease inflammation, and maintain a normal digestive tract. My favorite product is called Vim & Vigor by PetCentrx (website)

Depending upon your pet's age or physical needs, giving him choline, glucosamine, fish oil, ginkgo, or ginseng may also be helpful. Your veterinarian can determine which supplements will be most beneficial in order to maximize your pet's health.


”I like to exercise too!”
Maintaining proper weight, joint and muscle function, digestion, and overall attitude are just a few of the many benefits of regular exercise. Most pets can easily keep up with their owners during various exercises including walking, jogging, or playing catch. For those pets with arthritis, supervised swimming is an excellent alternative that's enjoyed by many pets. And exercising with your pet increases the human-animal bond that strengthens your relationship with your furry friend.


”After you brush your teeth, don't forget about mine.”
As I mention in my books, the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats and 8 Weeks to a Healthy Dog, dental disease is the most common infectious disease in pets, affecting over 85% of pets 2 years of age and older. Regular care, including brushing, is important to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Most pets need an annual cleaning at the doctor's office to remove tartar that accumulates despite regular home care. If you neglect your pet's teeth, not only will he suffer from the pain that always accompanies dental disease, but the infection from his mouth will wreak havoc with the rest of his body.

Don't neglect a disease that is so easily prevented and treated. And for those of you who can't brush your pet's teeth, consider a simple supplement added to your pet's drinking water. The best product I've found is made by Oxyfresh called Pet Oral Hygiene Solution. Just a small capful in your pet's drinking water will help reduce frequent trips to the doctor!


”I'm a good looking pet. Help me stay that way.”
It only takes a few minutes each day to make sure your pet looks as good as he feels. Most pets can be easily taught to accept daily brushing, ear cleaning, and nail trimming. Doing these grooming chores is more than cosmetic: keeping your pet's coat and ears clean and nails trimmed can prevent skin and ear infections and overgrown nails.


You love your pet and want him to live forever. Following the tips in this article will help you keep him healthy, reduce veterinary visits for illness, and increase the enjoyment you share with your four-legged buddy. The easiest way to get started is to take this article with you the next time your pet is scheduled for a doctor's visit. Your pet's veterinarian can put together a plan designed to fulfill everything your pet wants and needs. And for an even more comprehensive health care program, check out my book, 8 Weeks to a Healthy Dog for an easy-to-follow 8 week plan for maximum health!



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