Four Winds Holistic Animal Services

– gentle effective healing for body, mind, and spirit –
Nutrition – An Overview

Nutrition is the foundation upon which healthy bodies and holistic treatment plans are based. Good nutrition facilitates healing and the maintenance of healthy bodies by providing the materials necessary for tissue repair and renewal. Food provides vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and trace minerals naturally and synergistically complexed for efficient utilization by the body. The life force in food also nourishes the life force of animals who consume it. Food which is less processed retains more of its original nutritional content and life force than more highly processed food.

The key to good nutrition is picking the right diet for your animal companion. Factors to consider include life style, age, health issues, and any breed related concerns. Re-evaluation of the diet periodically and whenever things change is also important. Animals are individuals whose dietary needs change over time. What is right for one animal in the household may not be right for another. Some animals do well with grain-based diets while others thrive on meat, bones, and vegetables with little or no grains.

Good quality natural kibbles and canned foods provide an excellent way of improving an animal’s nutritional status. They can be the first step in the transition to a fresh foods diet. Adding vegetables, fruit, and meat improves the nutritional status of commercial foods, acquaints the animal with new tastes, and allows the animal’s gastrointestinal system to adapt to foods which will comprise the new diet.

Premixes are a wonderful way for your animal to enjoy the benefits of whole foods with less preparation time. Portions are soaked in water and mixed with meat before serving. Some mixes include vegetables. Most premixes include instructions on adding an oil source and a fish oil source to provide balanced essential fatty acids. Urban Wolf (for dogs) and Urban King (for cats) are excellent grain free premixes. Happy Dog makes barley-based premixes as well as a grain-free premix. Essex Cottage Farms offers a variety of grain-based premixes and clinical diets. Sojourner Farms produces a European style grain mix for dogs and cats as well as a grain-free premix. Raw meat, bone, and vegetable products are also available. These can be fed alone or combined with premixes to provide complete nutrition.

After an animal has eaten a natural diet for some period of time, its body will begin to cleanse itself of accumulated toxins. This cleansing reaction can take many forms. The ears may exude thick, dark brown, waxy debris. The coat may become dull; occasionally there may be some hair loss. Loose stool is a frequent event. Less common cleansing reactions include runny eyes, runny nose, and vomiting. The animal’s body will choose the safest way for it to detoxify. Generally animals who are detoxifying feel pretty good despite their symptoms.

Supplements can be used to complement the diet. It is important to note that improper or unnecessary supplementation and overly aggressive dosing can actually imbalance the body. Supplements should be mixed in a portion of the meal rather than throughout. Animals should not have to skip a meal to avoid taking in supplements which are detrimental to them. Supplements should never be mixed into an animal’s only water supply for the same reason. Adequate water intake is critical to keep body tissues hydrated and to facilitate waste product and toxin removal. Putting supplements and other treatments into a second water bowl allows an animal to choose the water which is needed at the time.

Fresh pure water is an essential component of any nutritional plan. There are many water filters available which filter chemicals and microorganisms out of tap water. Good quality spring water can also be used. Distilled water leaches minerals out of the body and is not recommended for long term use. While many animals prefer filtered or spring water, there are animals who do best on tap water. One way to determine this is to place bowls of tap and pure water down and observe the animal’s drinking habits.