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Natural Supplements For Your Pets
Research into natural health products for our animal companions is ongoing and shows that many nutritional and herbal products helpful to humans are also good for cats and dogs. Many animals suffer the same illnesses or effects of aging as do their human companions, and their bodies are comprised of similar organic and molecular structure to human beings.
Just as humans suffer from increased stress in the 21st century, pets also may become anxious due to a variety of stressors such as moving to a new home, the introduction or loss of an animal or human companion in their “territory”, change of family routine, or in response to being confined. Reactions to these kinds of upsets vary but include behaviours such as refusal to eat, urinating on and destruction of furniture, excessive barking and yowling, and worse! Fortunately, some herbs used for centuries in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) to calm anxiety and lessen bouts of insomnia such as Biota orientalis, and Zizyphus jujube may also be used for your pets.
A healthy functioning immune system is important for your pet’s overall general health and in particular her demeanor, skin and coat, digestion, etc. can all benefit from maintaining immunity to disease and illness. Many herbs helpful in boosting your own immune defenses, such as, Echinacea angustifolia, Ashwagandha, and Reishi mushroom are equally helpful to your cat or dog. Remember! Preventing illness is a lot less costly in the long run than treating the symptoms of illness.
As your cat or dog ages, she may suffer the same complications of repetitive strain on the joints and tendons as humans do, and can lose some of the lubricating fluid between the joints and vertebrae. Many dogs and cats also suffer from hip dysplasia, which is the result of abnormal development of the hip joint in the young animal. One or both hips may be involved and occurs when the combination of weak or poorly developed muscles, connective tissues, and ligaments that should support and maintain joint health is deficient. It is important to know that hip dysplasia may begin in animals as young as five months old and will only worsen steadily without intervention or treatment. More commonly, hip dysplasia is seen in middle-aged to older animals and is often accompanied by osteoarthritis.
Natural minerals and herbs such as D-Glucosamine sulphate, Chondroitin sulphate, Methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM), Devil’s Claw, and Boswellia serrata, all commonly taken to improve the health of the joints, tendons and ligaments will also work well with your dog or cat. Although many pet owners believe symptoms such as limping, poor gait, decreased physical activity and more are merely the result of aging, they may be surprised to learn that daily supplementation with these commonly prescribed natural health products can return many animals to more normal and pain-free activities enjoyed previously, just like humans!
Arguably the most common affliction of cats or dogs is parasites. Whether it is intestinal worms or infestations of microbes or both, parasites can be a serious concern for you and your pet. Most veterinarians will agree that one in six pets likely have parasitic worms while his human companion is completely unaware of this as many animals are asymptomatic, or their condition goes unnoticed. Medicinal herbs such as Areca catechu, Curcubia moschata, and Allium sativum (Garlic) are just as effective in killing or dislodging intestinal worms as pharmaceutical drugs so these herbs may be a good choice for those who are open to alternative treatments.
The kidneys and liver of dogs and cats appear to be particularly vulnerable to disease. Perhaps because of modern breeding methods, or the prevalence of environmental toxins, chemicals, drugs, and so on, feline and canine organ toxicity is fairly common as these organs are primarily responsible for filtering and cleansing toxins, herbs, and drugs from the body. Over time, or as in the case of the recent tragedy of contaminated pet foods, the kidneys and liver can become severely toxic leading to serious illness or even death. In the same way that most humans will benefit from organ detoxification at least twice per year, your cat or dog may benefit from detoxifying the kidneys and liver too. Herbs such as Uva ursi, Corn silk, and Horsetail are effective at improving kidney tone, while herbs commonly used by people for thousands of years to detoxify and tone the liver, such as Milk Thistle, Burdock and Dandelion can also be safely taken by your pet.
The natural health approach to pet care is the same as human health care. Prevent illness and disease before they occur and don’t just treat the symptoms; get to the source of what may be making your pet ill. Maintenance of your pet’s good health and prevention of disease will ensure that you and your beloved animal companion will enjoy a higher quality of life together and perhaps for a much longer period of time.
Rob Shaw is a holistic health researcher and educator with over 30 years of study and experience in various natural health practices and is a lifelong animal and nature lover.