While attending the Raw & Natural Dog Summit in Chicago last weekend, I listened intently as Dana Scott, founder of Dogs Naturally Magazine, discussed holistic dog care. One question that stuck out in my mind: do pet owners only practice holistic care when it's convenient?
Ask yourself the following questions and decide for yourself whether you are "convenience" driven or "holistic health" driven:
- Am I willing to prepare my pet's food myself so that I know the quality of ingredients going into the food? Am I willing to educate myself on the proper preparation of home made diets?
- If I feed a processed food, do I know the quality of ingredients? How much research have I done? Am I just trusting the pet food maker to do the right thing without really knowing for sure?
- Do I give vaccinations because daycare, boarding, or training facilities require them?
- Have I found a holistic veterinarian to participate in my pet's care?
- Am I willing to allow my female to undergo normal heat cycles instead of opting for early spay?
- Am I willing to live with an un-neutered dog?
- Am I willing to commit to a proper exercise component to my pet's health?
- Am I willing to fight parasites with natural products instead of chemicals?
- Am I willing to stand up to the veterinary staff when they disagree with my choices?
- Am I willing to be pro-active with preventive care for my pet?
It is very easy to choose "holistic" care when you are not faced with challenges. But all too commonly, pet owners will cave in when the day care or boarding facility insists on vaccinations for admission. Are you willing to find another resource for pet care? Are you willing to sign a waiver?
Making your own pet food can be challenging and requires WORK and EDUCATION to properly prepare a balanced diet, or at least have a rotational diet that will come close to being balanced over time. I own four businesses and have had up to ten dogs at one time, but I am willing to take the time to make individualized diets for my dogs.
Holistic veterinarians are not easy to find. You may have to drive more than five miles to find one! The average pet owner goes to the veterinary practice closest to their home, generally within a ten to fifteen minute drive. I have clients that drive four to five hours each way to have holistic treatments. That's a committed pet parent.
Allowing your female dog to undergo one to four heat cycles will improve bone and joint health and may help reduce cancer risks later in life, yet many puppy owners balk at the thought of having to deal with a dog in heat. (I heard today that the white carpets were more important than the dog's health - I kid you not!)
If you live in a small home, but adopt or purchase a puppy, you must be willing to commit time to proper exercise and stimulation. Otherwise, behavior problems will develop. Too many pet parents come in asking for medications to calm their pets or decrease anxiety and aggression. Proper training and exercise can go a long way to eliminating these bad behaviors.
Instead of agreeing to use poisonous pesticides on your pets, ask for literature, research side effects. THINK before giving the chemical - would you put this into or on your own body? If the product warns to wear gloves or wash thoroughly after handling, does it make any sense that it is safe to be given to your pet?
Are you willing to commit the financial resources to practice pro-active preventative care by feeding high quality food and having regular veterinary examinations and lab work? If you cannot afford to provide proper care to one pet, is it a good idea to add five more to your pack?
It's very easy to be idealistic and say you want to raise your pet holistically. How far are you willing to go to make that a reality?