My Approach to Canine Wellness
"Tell me about your dog's food." Dogs, and their food, are two of my favourite topics; I could talk for hours about dog food.
Good diet is the foundation of good health, and an unhealthy diet is a significant factor in many, if not most, disease processes. It's estimated that 85% of the immune system is located in the gut. Good nutrition, along with a resilient gut microbiome, are important precursors to good health and longevity.
Let food by thy medicine, and medicine by thy food - Hippocrates
I take a holistic approach to dog wellness where possible. To me, a discussion about a dog's health status must also include a discussion about his food. Food is everything, and the food we feed our dogs has a direct impact on their health and longevity; you have the ability to make many positive changes in your dog's health with good nutrition.
You may be familiar with the Principles of Natural Health. Over the years, I have come to value these principles, and view them as functioning in tandem with more traditional methods of veterinary care.
(This is a huge topic, and I've chosen to focus on only a few of these principles as I apply them to dog nutrition, health and longevity.)
Let's take a look at how I apply 4 principles of natural health to canine wellness:
Identify and Treat the Cause: A symptom, whether it's chronic itching or ear infections, poor coat, ongoing digestive issues, or cracked paw pads, for example, is often an outward expression of an underlying health issue. A symptom spotlights an area in your dog that needs work. When we correct or improve the root cause of the symptom we move closer to a foundation of good health. Symptom suppression on its own, without addressing the underlying cause, is a short term band-aid solution. Easing the symptom is important so that your dog is more comfortable, but it must be done while also correcting the root cause. The goal should be to find the most appropriate diet for your dog to assist his body in clearing the symptoms, while at the same time resolving the underlying cause.
Nature Has Healing Powers: The body wants to heal and achieve a state of good health. Our job is to facilitate that process and support the dog's body with a proper diet while the healing process unfolds.
Treat the Whole Dog: Your dog's mind, body, and emotions are all connected. We must factor your dog's emotional well being into his physical health. For example, grief, boredom, or frustration may manifest itself in your dog as lack of appetite, paw chewing, or excessive licking, and may not necessarily be rooted in allergies or food sensitivities. This is where careful observation of your dog's symptoms is needed. Click here for my Food & Symptom Tracking sheet.
Prevention is the Best Cure: Adopting a proactive approach to your dog's wellness is crucial. In much the same way that we do preventative maintenance on a car to keep it running well for as long as possible, we need to do preventative maintenance on our dogs. In the case of our dogs, that means feeding an anti-inflammatory, balanced, fresh food diet rich in anti-oxidants and healthy fats. We need to anticipate the life stage, age related and breed specific nutritional requirements of our dogs and feed and supplement appropriately. It's much simpler to prevent disease than correct it.
Knowledge is power, and the best decision is an informed decision.
Please note: I am not a veterinarian and cannot diagnose or treat your dog. This article is for information purposes and is not a substitute for veterinary guidance. Please check with your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog.