The Balanced Pet

Your pet is what he eats! And all along you thought that this advice was just for people. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest dog that ever lived was 21 years old. In “dog years,” that comes to over 100 in people years. Pretty impressive. The owner of that dog must have been doing something right.

Whether you are a “dog-person,” a “cat-person” or prefer the companionship of another kind of animal, you want your pet to have a long, happy, healthy life. So… in order to be healthy, your pet needs to have a steady diet of happy, social encounters. To ensure that it is getting the best of both worlds, provide a mixture of human-to-pet and pet-to-pet interactions. In one-dog families, for example, your dog will get plenty of human to animal interaction, but also needs contact with its own species. During your daily walks, try to meet up occasionally with a friend or neighbor who has a dog and let the two pets run and play together. Animals get lonely just as humans do for social relationships with their own kind. Give your dog or other pet that opportunity.
Your pet’s resistance to fleas, ringworms, mites and a host of diseases can be boosted if you make sure that your pet is physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. Both humans and animals are mammals, so their bodies respond very similarly to their environment. Stress, fatigue, lack of vital nutrients, and chronic conditions can all make your furry companion susceptible to serious diseases.

Did you know that a dog’s body functions a lot like a human body? We need fresh vegetables to be healthy, and so does our furry friend. Dogs actually require a higher percentage of raw vegetables than cats. Yet, even though the food label on the brand of pet food you buy lists a number of vegetables, those vegetables probably aren’t giving your pet all the nutrition it needs.

This is because some vitamins can be destroyed when vegetables are cooked. Vitamins are organic substances that naturally occur in plants (fruits and vegetables), eggs, fish, poultry and meats. Vitamins A, D, E, K, and the B complex are all essential for dog health and must be delivered through their diet. Dog’s bodies actually do produce their own Vitamin C, but if your pet does not ingest enough A and E, it will still be at risk of getting sick. Vitamins A and E team up with C to form an antioxidant barrier that guards your pet against illness.

What can you do to ensure that your dog is getting enough nutrition? First read the labels on the dog food you buy. Compare the nutrients in the various brands. Resist the temptation to buy the cheaper brand if you have a large dog. Yes, your dog goes through the bag of food fast, but you could be damaging your dog’s health by choosing lower-quality products. If you have been feeding your dog store-bought food that is less than high quality, start replenishing your pet’s body with powdered multivitamins. Easy to mix into food, powdered vitamins are more effectively absorbed than capsules and will jumpstart your dog to better health.

The ideal option is to give your dog a variety of fresh foods every day—meat, vegetables, grains like barley, buckwheat and rice and even legumes like pintos, kidney and red beans and lentils. These foods are safe and healthy for your dog. One word of warning: DO NOT feed raw broccoli to dogs (or cats). You can purchase dog food, make it at home, or add home-made food to the store-bought food. If your pet is over or underweight, this type of diet will usually get your dog to its correct weight. Your dog will thrive on a natural diet of high quality foods and treats.

Dr. Sheila Rockley
Sheila Rockley 2

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