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OUR ANIMALS, OURSELVES: Journey to pet-healthy alternatives

Sky and Addie (Provided photo)

My dog was limping, and any effort to sooth her pain wasn’t working. I knew the next step would involve more intensive examination, and my heart was already aching for what I feared was to come. After Molly was diagnosed with cancer, I was somewhat bewildered as to why she was our second dog to die from this disease. The hunt was on. I had already incorporated an integrative and holistic approach in my own life, so why not my dogs, too?

There are many reasons our animals, in fact all of us, might get cancer and just because there is a gene factor involved doesn’t mean cancer is always the outcome. This is when you start paying attention to your environment in and out of your home. Pesticides on your food to chemicals you use to clean your house and everything else in between. Perhaps the grass that your dog or cat is rolling around in that previously was treated with fertilizers or weed killer. All these things can contribute to an animal or human getting cancer.

Let’s begin with the chemical treatments we apply to our animals for killing or deterring fleas and ticks. I always cringed whenever I squeezed that topical solution onto my dogs’ skin knowing that I was essentially putting poison into their system. It works, but at what cost? I’m now following my instincts along with valid research into the harm associated with these products and no longer use them. It’s more challenging, but there are many alternatives. I have an herbal spray that not only discourages these bugs but kills them because of the oils. However, you have to be consistent, which isn’t easy.

Consider the new evidence concerning the dangers of over vaccinating our pets suggesting yearly vaccinations are unnecessary. If you google “over vaccinating your pets,” a number of legitimate sites will show up with scientifically based information. One article is from the Dogs Naturally Magazine written by Patricia Jordan, DVM, who says “… I’ve seen it cause dangerous, sometimes deadly, vaccine reactions and lifelong chronic illness including autoimmune diseases and cancer.”

There is also controversial information suggesting that the timing of spaying or neutering (or if you even should) may have cancer implications.

After the shock of Molly’s cancer diagnosis, I went into overdrive and pursued alternative therapies, including her diet. Although I was purchasing the best kibble money could buy, I sensed that there was something missing that processed food wasn’t providing. So besides treating her with a variety of alternative therapies, I immediately put her on a veterinarian-approved, home-cooked diet. Yes, people food. Along with supplements and some raw meaty bones, I felt confident that I was taking the right course of action. With a change in diet and alternative therapies, Molly lived another year-and-a-half and not the four months she was given. Food matters!!!

If cooking your pet’s food is intimidating, there is a variety of high-quality pet food out there from kibble to raw. However, it’s important to check the ingredients before you buy. You DON’T want byproducts, and your first ingredient should be real meat. Obviously, no artificial dyes and additives. Know what all those vague ingredients are that might at first look acceptable but are in fact very bad. Also, check the sell-by date and keep your kibble securely closed so pests or mold don’t get in. Mold especially can cause serious health problems. If you do go the kibble route, throw in some home-cooked (or raw) meat to make it more appealing. Cooked bones are dangerous.

All these considerations contribute to a healthy immune system and will ultimately help keep cancer and other illnesses at bay. It’s important to run all of this by your vet. I have to give a nod to mine, who I’m sure takes a deep, calming breath whenever she sees me coming, but I know she is listening to me and perhaps remaining open to my ever-present quest for the alternative.

One of our dogs, Adeline, is a golden retriever which happens to be high on the list of dogs prone to cancer. I believe the body is a superbly designed instrument and is capable, given quality fuel and a healthy environment, to fight off disease and stay healthy. I want Adeline and all my animals to live long and healthy lives, but I know I play a large part in this happening by researching and becoming aware of the potential hazards surrounding them. I understand that some of my beliefs go against the mainstream, but my instincts along with valid research have guided me in this direction. I approach my own life and health this way. Why would I do otherwise with my pets?