The Spay/Neuter Incentive Project and Sanctuary
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  There is a revolution going on out there! The natural, "alternative" health therapies are showing us that we can take control of our companion animals' health. What I have learned in the past few years has changed everything I've ever believed about how I should take care of the animals who share my life.

   According to the American Animal Hospital Association's 1999 "National Pet Owner Survey," 31 percent of companion animal guardians have used some form of complementary medicine on their animals. Compare this to the 1996 survey, in which only 6 percent had tried any alternative therapies.

    Nutrition, vaccination, disease - none of it is what I'd been taught! Feed your dog a cup of food out of the same bag day in and day out for her whole life? What's in there, anyhow? Would I ever consider eating that way? If I can keep myself alive and reasonably healthy on home prepared food, why can't I do the same for my dog or cat? Do I get an annual combination shot of five to seven different vaccines? Isn't that a huge insult to the immune system? Is it a good idea to keep a continual barrage of chemicals in my pet's system to fight fleas? Should I cover the symptoms of a disease rather than getting to the root of the problem? What's causing all the cancer that's being seen today? So much of what I had taken for truth just didn't stand the test of common sense. So I started reading. And calling. And emailing. And it's changed my four footed children's lives forever.

    The short of it is this: if you give a damn about your animal companion, you will not feed him from a box or a bag of what is commonly referred to as "complete and balanced nutrition." Research it for yourself. Find out what goes into the mix, and that doesn't mean just reading the bag. (There are tricks to make it look like meat is the main ingredient, when soybean meal and corn syrup are called by a couple of different names so you don't realize that, added together, they far outweigh the meat content - such as it is.) Then commit to either feeding a natural, preservative free home prepared diet or a kibble made from HUMAN QUALITY ingredients. They're out there. Wysong, Innova, California Natural, and Flint River Ranch are among the best I know of. Yep, they're more expensive, but guess what, you'll save big bucks in the long run. How? For starters, they'll eat less. But the big savings is long term: lower vet bills. Read that sentence again. Skip the skin diseases, ear infections, and flea infestations that keep you running to the vet, shelling out lots of money for treatments that just cover the symptoms and don't deal with the real issue. Making just this one simple change will have a profound impact on your pet's health.

    Great nutrition won't cure every ailment, but I have personally witnessed amazing recoveries just by changing the kind of food I feed. I'm not an expert, but I do live with lots of animals, and have seen over and over again that good nutrition heals. I've seen itchy skin allergies completely disappear. Dogs with early signs of hip dysplasia who now run and jump and play without a hint of lameness. Fleas are only a minor problem and can be eliminated without harsh chemicals. Coats gleam, and now, since I've switched to a raw food diet, so do teeth. (Dental health, is by the way, imperative to your pet's overall good health. Don't take it lightly.) Temperaments have improved. Without exception, every animal I have put on this diet has flourished.

    For those of you who think your companion animal is doing just fine on whatever grocery store brand is on special, consider how much better he will do once you make the change. I'm one of those people who had a dog, a poodle, who lived to be fifteen on GAINESBURGERS. Of course, he looked like hell for the last three years of his life. He had no real personality. He certainly didn't seem like a happy dog. Looking back now, I know his whole life could have had a better quality and he could have easily lived five more years had I known then what I know now. You don't have to make that same mistake.

    On to even more controversial topics, and please, don't take my word for any of this. We feature a list of wonderful books and discussion boards. Read them for yourself. My intention here is to make you aware of what's going on out there, and to show you how to find out more. Make your own decision. Don't take anyone else's word for it.

    This is what much of the pet care community is learning: Vaccinations are causing much of the poor health we're seeing in our pets. We are over-vaccinating. Vaccines have actually created new diseases. Some diseases we continue to vaccinate for have not been seen in decades. Some diseases we vaccinate for are self-limiting. Vaccines can cause the disease they are supposed to protect against. Vaccines can cause injection site cancer. Vaccines can damage our pet's natural immunity, and allow other diseases to flourish. There's enough evidence out there to make you think twice about giving annual combination vaccines as a matter of course. Veterinarians are now beginning to check titers, or blood levels, of immunity. One parvo shot given to a puppy after her natural immunity has worn off will probably protect her for life. Especially if she is taken care of in a holistic fashion. Good diet, exercise, avoidance of toxic chemicals, and reasonable protection are all she'll need.

    If your pet is diagnosed with an illness, don't just accept what one vet has to say about the prognosis or how to treat it. Look into other options. Read the books suggested, or find others with an openness to alternative treatments. The documented evidence is amazing. I have had dogs and cats diagnosed with life threatening illnesses recover completely or survive much much longer than conventional allopathic medicine could offer by adding or substituting a combination of diet, homeopathic remedies, flower essences and herbs to what was prescribed. And I'm just beginning to learn about alternative medicine.

    I hope what I've shared here has sparked an interest in learning more. It doesn't take all that much effort. You can walk into almost any bookstore and have a good assortment of natural health care books to choose from. There are veterinarians practicing many versions of holistic treatment within a day's drive from most places, so it's easy to find one to consult in addition to or as your main vet. It is a fascinating quest, and it may have a profound impact on more than your pet's health. What you learn about them may teach you much about yourself.

    Our wish for a long, happy, healthy life for your companion animal,



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