Why Holistic Health is Important for Your Dog
Four years ago, my empty-nester parents finally decided to adopt their very first dog: an incredibly sweet and fluffy Golden Retriever named Rocky. After only a few days of getting to know this new guy, we all thought, ‘Oh, so this is what dog love is like.”
Since then, it’s been nothing but doggie spa treatments (in which Rocky comes back smelling like blueberry and vanilla goodness), banana treats and annual sweet potato “birthday cakes” and all-natural vet-approved glucosamine and turmeric supplements. Our family dog is healthier than most people I know!
When it comes to ensuring your dog is getting the best pet care possible, we completely get it. At our dog-friendly Vitarock office, our dog moms and dads are always sharing their latest discoveries for the best and safest natural products for their furry companions (a.k.a. our fur babies).
With the pet industry now estimated at over $72 billion — and supplies and over-the-counter medicine reaching $15 billion last year — the choices on what to give your dog may seem overwhelming. Now more than ever it is important for us to choose natural food and products for dogs over cheaper, mass-marketed options.
“Holistic health is becoming a lot more familiar with people,” says registered holistic nutritionist and owner of The Bone Natural Health Boutique, Jessica Mowforth. “Now that they’ve gotten comfortable [with holistic health] for themselves, they’re starting to open up to alternatives for their pets.” Mowforth says that we’re seeing a huge increase in human diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy and allergies in our dogs. “This is by far a huge contributor to why people are exploring different options in the holistic world and staying far, far away from the conventional, overly marketed generic pet foods.”
It’s important to remember, however: not everything that’s safe for humans is safe for dogs, especially when it comes to supplements and natural remedies. Be sure to speak to an expert in the field before starting any new program for your dog.
That said, we’ve outlined some of the most common ailments and recommended safe and natural supplements for dogs.
Joint support continues to be a common health issue for dogs (and Rocky can attest). According to a market research report by TechNavio, the joint-health category represented a whopping 39% share of the pet-supplements market! Luckily, there’s a myriad of natural solutions that may help.
Collagen, for example, has been known to be incredibly effective in improving joint pain and joint function in dogs. “Collagen is really great for puppies as they grow, elderly dogs for maintenance, prevention or treatment as well as sick dogs for healing purposes, especially if they are struggling to eat,” says Mowforth.
Adding collagen to your dog’s diet may help prevent injuries like torn ligaments, patellar subluxations (dislocation of the kneecap) and elbow and hip dysplasia, as well as age-related joint and soft tissue pain.
Like humans, gut health is important for dogs since it’s responsible for ensuring the proper breakdown of food, supplying him or her with the nutrients and energy needed to function on a daily basis. Dogs may experience issues with digestion due to things like changes from unknown food allergies, diet changes, ingestion of food scavenged from garbage cans or outdoors and other gastrointestinal diseases. Mowforth recommends a raw diet, probiotics and fish oil to maintain good digestive health for your dog.
Natural shampoos for dogs have been shown to bring benefits to the skin and fur of your dog, making it thicker, shinier and overall healthier. But be weary of pet products labeled “natural” — they could contain hidden ingredients that are anything but natural. “You want to look for an ingredient list that you can actually read,” says Mowforth. “Stay away from phthalates, parabens and fragrances. Look for essential oils and bases, such as coconut oil and/or almond oil.”
For a healthier shine for dogs, Mowforth is a big proponent of raw dog food, including coconut oil and fish oils in their diet. An occasional apple cider vinegar rinse (where a small amount of apple cider vinegar is diluted in warm water) can help as well.
For the most part, our dog Rocky can be super chill — bring in a pair of hyperactive, barking weiner dogs to the house, however, and Rocky’s anxiety goes through the roof. I always wondered whether certain herbal supplements are actually safe and effective in treating anxiety in dogs, but a number of my colleagues at Vitarock can attest to Bach’s Rescue Remedy for pets. It’s all-natural, non-toxic and apparently works wonders for dogs that are impatient, fearful or have been through a traumatic situation (ie. every vet appointment). Remember to check in with your vet to see if any of these remedies would suit your dog’s needs.
Dogs are like family members, and so we want to ensure they get all the love and care they give to us. This means helping your dog go the natural route, free from toxins and synthetics, so they lead a healthier life — and live as long as we can spoil them and shower them with kisses.