Contributed by: Michael Savich

The 21st Century house pet has become a family member. According to a 2006 Mintel pet survey, over 50% of pet owners buy birthday gifts for their pets while over 80% of owners call themselves “mommy” or “daddy.” Pet owners want the best for their four-legged, feathered, or finned companions, as the case may be; however, how do we know what’s best for their general well-being? We certainly don’t want to discover that we are killing them with kindness! One area of controversy concerns commercially available pet foods. In an article written by Dr. Wendell O. Belfield, D.V.M., the claim is made that the bodies of dead animals are rendered and sold as a protein additive for use by the pet food industry. Furthermore, it is alleged that fat stabilizers introduced in the preparation of this protein mixture can cause liver dysfunction. In the article, reference is made to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study which concluded that “a nine-pound cat fed on commercial pet food ingests more lead than the amount considered potentially toxic for children.”

An additional additive in many pet foods is vegetable protein identified as “cellulose” on the products’ labels. Unfortunately, much of this vegetable matter is deficient in vitamins and minerals and essential fatty acids.

Another area of concern involves the possible “over-medication” of pets. According to a Globe and Mail article written by Carly Weeks, drug sales for animals constitute a multi-billion dollar market. These medications range from mood-managing pills to anti-inflammatory injections which often cause serious side-effects and mask conditions actually requiring urgent treatment. The problem is becoming so serious that many veterinarians are decrying the reliance on “quick-fix” solutions to treat animal health conditions.

An alternative to promoting and maintaining animal health is to approach it holistically. This involves, for example, understanding the pet’s natural environment and diet to provide it with its proper nutrition, as well as employing natural remedies when applicable.

If you have a pet and wish to learn about natural health methods, why not consider the Natural Health Care for Pets Certificate? The objective of the program is to teach students how to care for their pets using natural remedies and therapies. Topics include: natural dietary requirements, day-to-day animal care, animal massage, animal psychology, herbal preparations, administering aromatherapy products, and Chinese medicine for pets.


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