These tiny habits can improve your dog’s health. Start today!

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Canine enjoying optimal health

Canine enjoying optimal health

We all know that there are lots of things you can do to help your dog or cat maintain an optimal health level and thrive.  Some of these things might involve big changes—changing from a kibble diet to a species-appropriate diet, for example.  But there are also some quick, easy things you can do to help improve your pet’s health, that take very little time or effort on your part. Here, we go over some of those simple switches, and the best part is, you can start implementing these changes right away.

Daily brushing

Whether your pet is long-haired or short-haired, they will benefit from regular, daily brushing.  This is true whether it is “shedding season” or not.  Brushing your dog or cat regularly helps remove dead hair, distribute the natural oils on the skin and the coat, and give you a chance to check for any scrapes, lumps, or bumps that your pet might have.  It also deepens your bond with your pet, and is an incredibly relaxing activity to engage in when you’ve had a stressful day.  A few minutes of brushing each day also helps you to get really in-tune with your pet’s body, which makes it easier to identify any abnormalities quickly.  And, it helps ensure that your pet is used to being handled on all parts of their body, which can come in handy in a wide variety of situations.  So, if you don’t already, start brushing your dog or cat regularly.  They will look better and feel healthier, and taking a few minutes each day to really focus on your pet and let the stresses of the day fade into the background might help you feel more balanced and happy too.

Healthy, species-appropriate treats

Lots of people regularly tell me that they give their dogs and cats treats.  If you love to give your pet treats, making sure you’re giving healthy treats is an easy way to help support your pet in their journey towards achieving and maintaining optimal health.  If you are currently giving your pet store-bought treats (such as dog biscuits or cat treats), vegetables and/or fruit (and this includes things like canned pumpkin), peanut butter, French fries, or other processed food, you have a great opportunity to start giving healthy, species-appropriate treats that will help support your pet in being the healthiest they can be.  Many store-bought treats (for dogs and cats) are processed, can be harmful, and do not support the health of your pet.  Our carnivore pets are not designed to eat fruits and veggies, and they can cause major problems.  Peanut butter, French fries, and other processed food are also not species-appropriate, and they can cause problems as well.  If you like to feed treats to your pet, choose something that is species-appropriate, like whole frozen sardines, chicken feet, liver (freeze-dried is fine), and so on.  There are lots of healthy options out there that will be a source of health, energy, and balance for your pet, so make the simple switch to giving healthy, species-appropriate treats.

Get that air flowing

Many of us spend the majority of our time inside, and so do our pets.  While it is important for us and our pets to get outside and get exercise, sunshine, and fresh air every day, it is also a really great idea to give fresh air a chance to circulate inside too.  In our house, we keep at least one window open a little bit all the time (only closing it when it’s raining heavily).  And, anytime the weather is nice, we open up all the windows and let the house air out.  Even if the weather isn’t perfect, keeping that window open a bit allows fresh air to come in and stale air to go out.  We haven’t had an increase in our energy bills because of this, and we and our pets get the benefit of fresh air in our house almost all the time.  Studies have shown that breathing fresh air can promote relaxation, increase feelings of happiness, and decrease stress.  Making sure that you have fresh air coming into your house all the time is an easy, inexpensive switch you can make right away to help your pets, your family, and yourself be more balanced, happier, and healthier.

Clean, pure water

Drinking pure, clean water is one of the 8 laws of health, and it is vitally important to supporting the body in achieving and maintaining vitality.  In most places, the tap water is not clean and pure—as I describe in the article, researchers regularly find that the tap water in most places in America has chlorine, fluoride, chlorides, sulfates, bicarbonates, aluminum, nitrates, insecticides, herbicides, and even prescription medications (including antibiotics and hormones), along with lots of other substances that you don’t want going into your body or your pet’s body.  So what can you do?  Switch from drinking tap water to drinking filtered water, and make sure that you give your pet filtered water too.  When it is clean and pure, water can help to support the natural oxygen levels and pH balance in our pets’ bodies, which ultimately supports the immune system and your pet’s ability to thrive.

Cut down on the toxins in your home

The cleaning products and air fresheners that lots of use contain toxic chemicals that can have profound negative impacts on our pets.  While it can take some time to clear out all the toxic cleaners from your home, you can start the process by taking a look at ewg.org.  This website is an incredibly helpful tool that can help you find better alternatives to toxic cleaners.  As the website says, “EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning is an online safety guide for household cleaning products, launched in 2012 to help people find safer products that fully disclose their ingredients and contain fewer ingredients that are hazardous or that haven’t been thoroughly tested. The database combines product ingredient lists gleaned from product labels, company websites and worker safety documents with information in more than 16 standard toxicity databases and extensive searches of peer-reviewed scientific literature. The database provides easy-to-navigate safety ratings for more than 2,000 cleaning products.”  You can look up products in lots of different categories; it is an excellent guide when you are looking for better, safer products for your home.

Another simple change you can make is to stop using air fresheners and scented candles in your house, and switch to diffusing essential oils.  Air fresheners can cause changes in blood pressure and mood, and they can also trigger migraine headaches.  Our pets are just as susceptible to the harmful effects of air fresheners and scented candles.  By switching to essential oils (make sure that the essential oils you use are organic and have not been distilled with chemicals), you can keep your home smelling nice while at the same time providing a natural modality to help support, maintain, and balance your pet’s body (as well as, of course, you and your family’s bodies).

Harnesses vs collars

If you have a dog that pulls when you’re out on a walk, you might want to consider switching from a collar to a harness.  There is evidence to suggest that collars can cause damage to the thyroid gland, which can lead to hypothyroidism (which may show up as weight gain, hair loss, skin problems, or other issues); lameness; neck injuries; and injuries to the spine.  When your dog pulls while wearing a collar, it can also restrict the blood, and even the lymph, from flowing optimally to and from the head.  This can cause problems with the ears and eyes.  Switching your dog to a harness, particularly a front-clip harness, can help reduce the issues that dogs that are pullers experience.  Your dog may also benefit from chiropractic treatment to help make sure that their neck and spine is healthy and properly aligned.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the many things you can do to help your pet live an optimal, quality life.  These are all simple, easy switches that you can start to implement right away in your house.  You don’t have to do them all at once—if it’s easier, you can try making one simple switch each week.  You and your pets will both benefit, and each positive change you make will help support your pet in becoming the very healthiest it can.  Remember, every change you make has an impact, so no matter where you are in your journey to support your pet naturally, implementing these can have a huge effect on your pet, mind, body, and spirit.

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