Monday, June 20, 2016

In the World of Wellness: Health for Furry Family Members

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" in those ways and also as a means of defining a life free from dis-ease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you. Being more informed = better decisions for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: It's time to re-think your dog food
The Boys, from our engagement photo shoot

Dog Food and Coconut Oil for your Furry Family Members

Let Food Be Your Medicine

The health of our furry family is just as important as our own health. I'm very particular about what I feed my boys because I've seen what a tremendous difference a change of food does for them. Let's use my little guy, Samson, as an example.

About a year ago he started developing acid reflux problems, causing him to regurgitate food he'd just eaten. After many, many, many tests of all kinds, and having ruled out everything else, the vet decided Samson's esophagus was failing him. This, apparently, happens more than you would realize. The solution was to put him on a medicine that would regulate a particular acid function that causes the esophagus to react that way. The medicine, however, had a huge downside. Animals could develop involuntary spasms that would never go away, even after the medicine was stopped. This made me very uncomfortable. On top of that, I had a very strong feeling (you know, mom instincts) that something else was going on. While I love our vet clinic - and all the wonderful vets there who have taken care of Samson since he was a baby bean - and trust them completely, I had to also trust those instincts. So, as I always do, I turned to food.

While I've always fed him a high quality, natural, nutrient rich dry dog food, I had a feeling if we changed it to a new version that required a soaking component this problem might go away. I tried a couple of different brands, but with no luck. After talking to my friend Cheryl at work one day, she mentioned Sojos, a type of dog food she'd been giving her dog who had seizures. Within a rather short amount of time on the new food, her dog's seizures stopped. Remarkable, right? I immediately switched Samson to it.

Within a couple of months, all the problems he'd had with regurgitating food were gone. He never had to go on the medicine and he hasn't had any problems since. Not to mention, he LOVES Sojos. It gets crazy here at breakfast and dinner time.

Recently, I added in Dr. Harvey's Veg-to-Bowl grain free dog mix for an extra fiber boost. I top the Sojos off with a little of the veggie mix at each meal and we're good to go! While Sojos alone is great, Samson has always had extra fiber needs, so this is an excellent addition.

Samson has always looked young for his age, and I attribute that to a very healthy diet. While he's actually 13, he looks much younger and people are constantly in shock of his true age.

What's That Smell?

Rocco, our other furry baby, is quite the smelly beast. I tried everything, you guys. Baths, more baths, all natural dog cologne, special shampoos- EVERYTHING. I had this feeling that it had to be food related, so I've recently switched his dog food to a grain free version and it is making a tremendous difference. I would've switched it sooner, but he's technically The Fiance's dog and we have different ideas on dog food. However, I'm slowly winning Rocco's devotion as Favorite Hooman and proving a point about the effects of food, because now that he's been on this new dog food for a while, things have improved significantly. Aside from normal it's-time-for-a-bath smell, he doesn't have the weird smell anymore.

The research I found showed that dog's bodies can't process all the heavy grains we feed them, which can cause a number of negative effects, including smell. For a full change, it takes 3-4 bags worth of the new dog food to kick in. However, you should notice a difference after the first bag. Keep in mind it might take a couple of tries to find the right grain free food, but if you're patient and give it time you'll see a huge difference as well.

Coconut Oil Cure-all

Coconut oil isn't just great for us hoomans, it's great for the furry babies too. My little guy has seasonal allergies that cause him to lick his feet, so when that time rolls around I coconut oil him up and it helps reduce the itch and discomfort. And just like coconut oil is great for our hair and skin, it's great for theirs too. Living in a desert means dry skin, so when the little guy needs it I put a little bit of oil in my hands at night and rub it on his fur. It's like a before-bedtime-massage. He loves it.

You've seen those lists where coconut oil apparently does 94 different things, right? Well, you can add this next topic as one more very awesome thing it can do. Every once in a blue moon, for who knows what reason (probably allergies too, he's like his mom- allergic to everything), he starts to lose a little bit of hair on his ears. When that happens, for about two weeks I put a hearty amount of coconut oil on his ears once a day before bedtime and whatever was happening- poof. Gone. The hair grows back thick and shiny.

Coconut oil is magical, you guys. It is. It's my favorite food medicine.

Remember, your furry babies are like people. They have vast and differing needs, so make sure you pay attention to what's going on with them to ensure they're getting the diet best suited for their needs. The answer is very often in the food.

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