As a society, our understanding of human health is always evolving and our habits generally evolve along with our changing understanding.
A quick look at the evolution of the food pyramid over the past 50 years is a perfect illustration of this – whereas a diet heavy in grains used to be recommended, now we know that we should be eating more vegetables.
General understanding of pet health, on the other hand, has not evolved quite as dramatically. For the most part, people still care for their pets the same way they did half of a century ago. Is that because no new information has come to light?
Quite the contrary – we now know much more than we used to about animal health and wellbeing, but many pet owners are not made aware of these developments and continue to follow the same old practices that their parents and grandparents before them used.
As a natural pet care practitioner, it’s my mission to change that and shed some light on healthier and more natural options for pet care. Let’s start by poking holes in a few of the most widely diffused myths.
1. Pets Need to Be Trained
Unless you live in the country, where your pets can roam wild and free when and where they please, you probably need your pets to behave in certain ways so that they don’t destroy your house, run away or do harm to anyone. Fair enough.
But most modes of training emphasize a dog’s obedience, the ability to do “tricks,” and the owner’s power to command the dog, which depends on the canine adopting an unnatural submissive role. This is simply the wrong philosophy and approach. Your pets are intelligent, feeling beings and to establish a relationship that revolves around power and control is inherently disrespectful to their independent nature.
Instead, it’s best to create a relationship of rapport in which your dog gets in synch with your behavior. This way instead of shouting “heel” in an aggressive way, when you stop, your dog wants to stop with you because you’re part of the same team. And you won’t have to reward him with a treat as the behavior will be something he wants to do anyway. There are several approaches and programs you can use that will give you the desired result of having a dog whose behavior is safe and appropriate without forcing him to see you as a master.
2. Pets Should Eat Pet Food
Get a cat, get cat food, right? Wrong. To bust this myth, let’s think about a cat or dog as the self-sufficient animals they really are. Sure, your furry friends have come to rely on your care and love, but the fact is they still have excellent natural instincts that would allow them to survive in the wild if they needed to. And you can bet that they wouldn’t be seeking out kibble, or all the strange things that most pet foods are made with.
Your domesticated pet would hunt and eat its prey, and be perfectly happy and healthy doing so. In fact, if they were able to get enough that way, they’d be healthier than they would be eating a steady diet of over-processed “pet food” that’s chock full of chemicals, unnecessary grains and meat by-product. So, do you have to release your animal to the wilds of your backyard and hope they hunt?
Luckily, no. You can act in the place of mama dog/cat by providing a raw food diet in the form of raw meat. It may seem strange at first, and it does require a bit more thought and work than dumping kibble into a bowl, but the health benefits are worth the effort.
3. Pure Breed Pets are Best
You tell people you want to get a dog or cat and they ask, “What kind?” Uh, the kind with four legs, a tail and a wet nose? That should be the response, but instead many feel that they need to choose a specific breed. What most people don’t know is that pet breeds are entirely man-made and are what they are today because of years of intentional mating between animals that are closely related to one another. Just as that sort of thing has negative health effects for humans, it results in pets with serious health deficiencies.
Additionally, pure-bred animals are often born and raised in deplorable conditions – puppy mills that are all about churning out pets that can bring large profits. You may think that certain breeds are cute or have attributes that you like, but getting a mutt or standard domestic cat from an animal shelter will bring you just as much happiness as a pet owner. Plus, you can rest easy in the fact that your adoption is not contributing to animal cruelty. And you’ll likely have a healthier pet that will live a happier, longer life.
As pet owners, it’s up to all of us to help change the accepted beliefs and practices that do more harm than good for our beloved animals. You can start in small ways, like incorporating raw foods into their diets and changing your concept of healthy owner-pet relationships.
Over time, if we all begin to open ourselves up to more humane and healthy behaviors, we can vastly improve our four-legged friends’ lives and usher in a new approach to pet guardianship.
About the Author
Narayan Khalsa is a natural animal care practitioner and founder of Effective Pet Wellness, a company that makes 100% organic pet medications. Narayan is passionately committed to educating pet owners on the benefits of holistic pet health and frequently contributes to several animal and healthy lifestyle publications. For more info, check out www.EffectivePetWellness.com.