Many of us strive to be the best guardians of our companion animals. Most of us do our best. But how much can we really do with the limited spectrum of knowledge of simply doing what we are told by medical veterinarians and advertising?

There is merit to listening to the various media that fill our head with what is “healthy” or “unhealthy” however it is our duty as animal caregivers to stop being “yes” people and start doing our own research! Animals are like people in that they require a delicate balance of nutrition to feel healthy. And every animal’s nutritional needs varies from the next. It is silly to assume that every cat or every dog will be completely nutritionally satisfied by eating exactly the same type of diet as the next.

Though there are various reasons why animals will eat non food items, a primary reason is that they are seeking proper nutrition that they are not getting from their diet. The term for eating on-food items is called PICA.

When we examine the nutritional needs of a cat or dog, we will read that kibble alone is not a valid form of nutrition. In fact it is quite detrimental to their health despite what advertising will tell us. They will fill our heads with the idea that kibble that is composed of healthy ingredients is healthy for your cats and dogs because it is a nourishing meal. And that is false. If we ask any holistic veterinarian, she will tell you that yes, kibble keeps cats and dogs alive but their quality of life is significantly compromised. Kibble has been linked to severe dehydration, urinary bladder and kidney problems, crystals and early stage kidney failure. Kibble drains the water systems in our animal friends’ bodies, leaving them unable to retain nearly enough bodily moisture from water alone.

It would stand to reason that just as every human has her own digestive needs, so does every companion animal. Animals have very sensitive little stomachs, and what works well for one dog or cat may not work for the next. In an ideal world, every guardian of a cat, dog, horse and other companion animal would adequately research, seek various professional holistic veterinary and animal communicator’s opinions. However, this is not always feasible. Of all of these options, conducting our own research really goes a long way in term of keeping our animals feeling healthy.

There is a lot of hype about various brands of food. Some of these brands are even recommended by medical veterinarians. And some of these brands are labeled “prescription diets”. However, when we  read the ingredients of some of these brands, they are not only devoid of any ingredient that requires a “prescription” (can you say marketing scheme??) but their list of ingredients comes complete with non-food items, preservatives and fillers. One might argue that they have witnessed cats and dogs living long and healthy lives on these low quality foods. This may be true, but how was their quality of life? Futher, are you taking nutritional advice from a veterinarian who has any concept of proper nutrition himself? I would be hard pressed to accept any nutritional advice from a doctor who does not eat well himself, as he has no frame of reference in terms of proper  nutrition= healthy quality of life. To add, some cats and dogs are far more food-sensitive than others. This level of sensitivity is most often relative to their person’s level of food sensitivity. Coincidence? To cite one example, many professionals will have us believe that ground up chicken beaks are a valid form of protein for your cats and dogs. Upon initial research, yes, chicken beaks are full of protein. INSOLUBLE protein called keratin—the same type of protein that is found in human hair and nails. It is not only insoluble (meaning that it does not get digested into the animal’s body and passes right through them) but there is absolutely no valid nutritional component in consuming keratin for animals. Consider this the next time you read “chicken by-product” on your food label. And for those of us who pay attention to animal welfare, it may help us to remember that the beaks that are being ground up as filler in our animals’ food come from farms that de-beak these chickens while they are still alive to utilize every last cent of their “commodities” they can. Would your animal friend want to take part in this barbaric business?

Lastly, in terms of research, it is also paramount to research where the food you’re buying is being processed. There have been several recalls of food brands for mislabelling their products. These companies will go so far as to re-arrange ingredients on labels to make them look more appealing to consumers. So you may be thinking that you’re buying whole food products when you are actually buying a low grade form of product that has been fancily decorated to look like a high quality. True high quality brands are not as expensive as these traditional vet recommended brands. They are middle of the road prices and will ensure that your cat and dog has a longer, healthier quality of life. Isn’t it time we started to nurture them the way they nurture us?

If your animal friend is eating healthy food and is still acting out by chewing, there are several other reasons that this may be happening. One reason is because the animal is not getting adequate exercise. For example, if you are the guardian of a large breed dog, this dog MUST receive at least two half hour fast paced walks per day. Until the dog begins to age, he will have a lot of energy. If we are unable to give these dogs the exercise they need, it would be irresponsible to bring them into our homes.  Not exercising our dogs is a form of abuse. Alternatively, hiring a well-reputed dog walker will help.

Dogs also thrive on discipline. They do NOT know how they are required to behave until we teach them. If we do not teach them, they will be unaware of your desired behaviour and act out. This is a main reason why dogs are re-homed; because humans lack the discipline to properly train their dogs in a consistent way. This is where we would hire a dog trainer to work with the dog. There is no need for the dog to get re-homed in this situation, as this can be VERY traumatic for the dog and cause permanent psychological damage.

Often when we are feeding our animals proper food, they can still act out. This can potentially be because their digestive systems are so sensitive that they require additional help with digestion. This is an excellent opportunity to research digestive enzymes and probiotics. Though they are not always necessary, when we are working with animals who were found as babies and were weaned too soon their digestive system development may have been compromised. Often this creates an inhibited digestive environment. Enzymes and probiotics may help. Consult your animal communicator or holistic vet for more information.

The last reason why your animal friend may be chewing your furniture is because he was weaned too early and has manifested an oral fixation. This can be altered with simple behaviour modification techniques suggested by a cat or dog trainer. With consistency and patience, your animal companion will stop chewing in no time!

If your animal friend is chewing your non-food items for another reason than is listed above, this may be a symptom of a medical problem. If you feel this is the case, consult your animal communicator or holistic veterinarian immediately.



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