These Three Pillars Hold Your Pet's Life and Longevity in Highest Esteem
• My goal as a proactive wellness holistic veterinarian, and your goal as a loving pet parent, is to help your animal companion remain vibrant and healthy all the years of their life.
• In caring for my veterinary patients and even my own pets, I follow my Three Pillars of Pet Health approach to wellness, which focuses on all the essentials necessary to keep your four-legged family member in excellent health.
• Pillar No. 1 is species-appropriate nutrition; Pillar No. 2 is a balanced, functional immune system; and Pillar No. 3 is a sound, resilient frame.
Working with pet parents, our focus is to keep any pet patients healthy throughout their lives, and help them avoid preventable disease. That, to me, is the essence of caring for animals, helping our furry (or feathered, finned or scaled) family members stay well rather than wait until they're sick to take action. Waiting around until a pet is sick or debilitated and then attempting to fix the problem does not align with the proactive prevention model of pet health that I have found to be successful. Waiting until a pet is sick actually causes a lot of unnecessary stress to you, me, and most importantly, our pets. It’s critical to keep your pets healthy, with a vibrant life, so you both can be provided years of fun and companionship.
In caring for my animal patients and also my own pets, I use what I call the Three Pillars of Health as a proactive approach to wellness. By following this model, I am able to address all the holistic fundamentals of good health during each patient visit. Regardless of the reason for the visit, by focusing on the three pillars, I know I'm covering all the important aspects of each pet's health and well-being, which is very important in achieving total wellness.
The Three Pillars of Pet Health
The following three pillars form the foundation for your pet's health, quality of life and longevity.
• Pillar No. 1: Species-appropriate nutrition
The diet you feed your pet should be nutritionally balanced and biologically appropriate for a carnivore (assuming your pet is a cat or dog). Biologically inappropriate foods cause metabolic and mitochondrial stress. Foods that generate the least amount of metabolic stress are in their natural form — whole, raw and unprocessed. Foods that have not been dehydrated or processed provide the most nutrition for your pet’s body.
Species-appropriate for your carnivorous pet means food high in protein and low in grain content. Dogs are scavenging carnivores and cats are obligate carnivores. Scavenging carnivores, by nature, are meat eaters that don’t hunt, but rather find their meat from an already eaten carcass or another animal’s leftovers. Obligate carnivores are animals that must eat the tissue of other animals in order to thrive, according to its genetic makeup. Obligate carnivores may eat other foods, such as vegetables, grains or fruit, but they have to eat meat as the main source of their nutrients. So carnivores need to eat animal protein and fat to be optimally healthy. I recommend offering your pet food in its natural state to provide needed moisture, and to insure the highest level of biologic assimilation and digestion.
Skip all the commercial weight control and 'low fat' diets. Regardless of their weight, your dog or cat still needs the right nutrition for their species, which means food that is high in animal protein and moisture, with low or no grain content.
Proper nutrition will benefit the two remaining pillars of health.
• Pillar No. 2: A balanced, functional immune system
The goal is to keep your pet's immune system in balance. It should protect against pathogens, but not be over-reactive to the point of creating allergies and other autoimmune disorders. One of the keys to keeping your dog's or cat's immune system strong is to avoid over-vaccinating. The role of vaccines is to stimulate the immune system to respond. Repeated vaccinations can send your pet's immune system into overdrive, which can result in an autoimmune disease.
Animals don't need yearly re-vaccinations any more than humans do, so I encourage you to work with a veterinarian who titers rather than re-vaccinates. Other keys to balanced immune system function are to avoid overuse of drugs like antibiotics, steroids, chemical pest repellents and parasite preventives. The more toxins that build up in your pet's body, the less effective the immune system will be.
• Pillar No. 3: A sound, resilient frame
There are a number of ways to help your pet keep his musculoskeletal system and organs in excellent condition. Regular, consistent aerobic exercise is a great way to maintain good physical conditioning. Keeping your pet from becoming overweight or obese is also extremely important.
Massage, chiropractic, acupuncture and other forms of physical therapy, depending on the individual requirements of your dog or cat, are also excellent methods for maintaining a sound frame and organs as well as for managing joint pain and healing injuries.
And don't overlook the importance of a healthy mouth. Keeping your pet's teeth and gums in good shape through regular brushing at home and as-needed professional cleanings by your veterinarian is a very important key to good health for a lifetime.
Make your Pets Healthier and Happier!
As a pet parent, the health and quality of life of your companion animal is up to you. No matter how active a role your veterinarian plays in keeping your dog or cat well, ultimately, your pet's health is your responsibility.
That’s why I recommend finding a proactive DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) to partner with to create a wellness lifestyle for your pet. I also recommend having several animal healthcare resources you can turn to, for example, a holistic vet, an animal chiropractor, and maybe an expert in species-appropriate nutrition. Sometimes you can find all those skills in a single practitioner, but not often.
The Importance of Regular Veterinary Wellness Exams
For healthy pets I suggest preferably two wellness checkups with your veterinarian per year (especially important if your pet is over eight years old), or at least one wellness checkup with your veterinarian per year if they are under eight years old. These visits shouldn’t be about re-vaccinations – they should be a proactive review of the status of your pet’s health and to stay on top of any changes, so you can take the appropriate action immediately.
Also, regularly reviewing your pet’s diet, supplement protocol and exercise habits with a health care practitioner insures you’re meeting your pet’s dynamic needs. My patients’ wellness and nutritional goals change yearly and over the age of eight can require fine-tuning every four to six months, depending on their vitality.
We want to keep your pet in the white zone of good health and out of the black zone of disease. In between those two zones lies the grey zone, which is where dysfunction in the body begins and gradually moves the state of your pet’s health in the direction of full-blown disease. In order to reverse or stall dysfunction in the grey zone, we have to deal with it there, which means we must regularly check your pet’s health status. Work with your pet’s healthcare provider to arrive at a good regular check-up schedule.
Help your animal companion enjoy vibrant, good health and a long, happy life!