Keeping Your Dog Healthy: The 8 Laws of Health
There is a bewildering amount of information, theories, and beliefs about how to best keep your dog healthy. This information overload can have you chasing your tail not knowing what to do. I know, because I have been there, and I can tell you that the one true path to health can be found in eight basic laws founded in nature, these laws are at the core of Animal Naturopathy. They aren’t complicated, but their results are nothing short of profound.
The 8 Laws of Health : N.E.W.S.T.A.R.T
1. Nutrition - the foundation of health
Every species is designed to eat certain foods. For an herbivore, this means plants, and for an omnivore a mixed diet of plants and animals. So what about our pet carnivore companions such as the dog? A species-appropriate diet for them is the same as the closely-related wolf. They need raw (never cooked, smoked, boiled, or dehydrated) meaty bones and organs to thrive. They are not designed to digest processed dog food, and they do not need carbohydrates, including vegetables.
Still not convinced that your sweet, precious pooch is a carnivorous meat-eater? Take a look inside their mouth, and you will find a hinged jaw, razor-sharp teeth designed to rip, tear, shred and shear meat, and not a single flat molar for chewing. How many times have you commented on how they “inhale” their food? This is because your precious pooch cannot chew. Their super slippery, antibacterial saliva is designed to slide large chunks of meat and bone down their throat to their highly acidic stomach where pathogens cannot survive. Their digestion begins in the stomach, not in their mouth like us. Their small stomach and short digestive tract are designed to process and eliminate raw meat quickly. Kibble is the antithesis of what their bodies are designed to digest. Carbs require excessive amounts of digestive enzymes to break down putting a heavy burden on the pancreas. For more information and raw feeding, see my Resources page.
2. Exercise - the most disregarded law of health
Daily, physical activity that raises the heart rate is needed every single day for optimal health. Exercise aids digestion, respiration, muscles strength, stress reduction, brain function and so much more! Sadly, the most overlooked system in the body, the lymphatic or “lymph” system, depends on exercise to work. The lymph system consists of lymph nodes and lymph vessels throughout the body and is vital for proper immune function. The lymph purifies the body and protects it from toxins. Think of it as the body's garbage can, but it needs movement to work.
3. Water - is life
Clean, fresh, pure, water every single day is mandatory for optimal health. Make a point to dump your dog’s water bowl every day, clean it, and refill with fresh, pure water. Tap water is often contaminated with toxins like chlorine and fluoride. If you live within city limits, it is almost a guarantee these harmful toxins are lurking in your water. Water filters are a simple and easy investment towards good health for your dog.
4. Sunshine - and sometimes supplements
Dogs need daily sunshine. The sun’s rays have powerful healing properties. And skip the sunscreen, most have cancer-causing ingredients anyway.
Sometimes supplements are necessary depending on your dog’s age and lifestyle. For example, a dog fed a commercial dog food diet is going to need, first and foremost - a raw diet, and then supplemented with probiotics and digestive enzymes. Even raw fed dogs need these enzymes because the soil is depleted which means the herbivores that our carnivores eat are also lacking necessary enzymes. Be careful in your choice of supplements, as most of them are processed.
5. Temperance - an old word for moderation
Too much of a good thing can be harmful, including the eight laws of health. I’m sure you’ve heard the adage that, “moderation is key," well it's right for our pets too.
6. Air - fresh, outdoor air every day
Many pets are indoors most of the day, and indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air. Furniture, carpet, household cleaning and personal care products, and air fresheners all "off-gas" or release harmful chemicals into the air.
7. Rest -
The body needs adequate sleep to heal and regenerate. The key is to replicate a den in nature with complete darkness, quiet, and without any electronics, i.e., cell phones, televisions, alarm clocks – anything that emits light, sound, or electromagnetic frequency. Ridding your bedroom of electronics may take some creativity, but it's not impossible.
8. Trust -
Perhaps the most important law. Nature is slow, and healing takes time. Be patient, have faith, and trust that the laws of health are the true path to healing.
Healing Power of Fasting
Although it's not one of the 8 Laws of Health, it is equally just as important – especially when transitioning from kibble to a raw diet. The majority of a dog’s immune system resides in their digestive tract, and by fasting, you allow the digestive tract a rest from processing food which will enable it to focus on healing the body. The first time my husband and I fasted our dogs was harder for my husband than it was for the dogs! I was completely comfortable with it because I had just learned all the incredibly powerful benefits of fasting. Dogs don't lose energy fasting even for several days as we do. They quickly access their fat reserves without first destroying any muscle tissue. Fasting a sick dog gives their body energy to heal, which it cannot do when digesting. Even fasting 12-24 hours one day per week helps their body to detoxify itself. Be sure to give them water, and try adding a little bit of raw, local honey. The honey provides nutrients and can entice them to drink the water.
Do Your Best Not to Be Overwhelmed
Transitioning to a natural lifestyle may seem overwhelming, so start slowly and implement one law of health at a time. But be sure to start with the nutrition, it is the foundation of good health upon which the other laws are built.
There are No Quick Fixes
You might be thinking there must be an essential oil, herb, or another natural remedy that you can give your dog instead of implementing the laws of health. Applying the laws of health is the quickest and only proven path to health and healing. Nature works. And the foundation is nutrition. Health cannot come from a bag, box, or can.