Skip to main content

Maryland Dog Magazine

Healing from the Inside Out

Feb 13, 2015 07:46PM
Kathleen Lester, M.S. As our society is shifting its thinking about how we eat, becoming more aware of the benefits of natural, chemical free foods and eating fewer processed foods, we are more slowly coming to the same realization for our animal companions. With processed kibble and canned food so readily available, it is difficult to imagine finding the time to make food for our companions. However, it is easier than you may think and animals will reap many health benefits just from eating a healthy diet.

We often think of food as addressing a physical need that animals require for survival. Food actually serves all beings on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. So what we put into the bodies of our animal companions, is very important to their overall health and well-being.

What the Body Tells Us About What We Put Into Our Bodies We can learn a lot about the health of our animal companion through looking at the urine, saliva and blood. For example our urine and saliva tell us about the acid/alkaline (base) flow in the body. The body is always trying to remain in balance, maintaining a neutral pH or slightly alkaline (base), so when an acidic diet of processed food is consumed, the body uses its alkaline reserves to cancel out the acidity.  A poor diet, however can lead to acid that builds up in the system, because the body is not producing enough alkaline to cancel out the extra acid required for digestion; therefore the acid is not properly flushed out and builds up in the system.  Over time, this acid buildup can lead to disease, manifesting itself differently in each being (arthritis in one animal, cancer in another, etc.).

Dogs that eat grasses, do so because grasses are alkalizing and help the body cancel out the acidity of the processed diet they are on.  But, because of the processed diet, their digestive system cannot break down the food and they often get sick from the grass when it is the most important part of their diet.  Eating more foods in their natural state reduces the amount of acidity necessary for digestion and helps maintain that a neutral pH balance in the body.

The blood, when examined under a microscope tells us what is going on at a cellular level. It is amazing how different the blood and the cells can look like on a natural diet vs. a kibble diet.  On a natural diet as we would find in nature, the cells are all round and free flowing of each other, allowing the blood to do its job efficiently.  On a kibble diet, the blood gets clumped, the cells lose their round shape, and there is “extra stuff” in the blood plasma inhibiting efficient blood flow. The blood is comprised of three components, each having a very important job to our overall health and well-being. The red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen to each of the organs; plasma transports carbon dioxide to the lungs, glucose to cells, as well as water and waste; and platelets clot the blood. If the blood cannot flow freely, you can see that there is a significant impact on the rest of the body. Our health really starts at a cellular level and what we eat affects our cells and their development.

Food As Toxin or Healer Animals are carnivores and meat is an important component of the diet. Not only is meat important, but organ meat and bones are important too. There is an ongoing debate about feeding a “raw” diet vs. not, we choose not to get into that debate here, but to focus on the quality of the food, raw or cooked. Higher quality meats are from animals that were raised ethically, and not given hormones and did not eat grass treated with chemicals or drink water that was contaminated. Many people don’t realize that what goes into the animals we feed, also goes into us or our animals. If we feed a steak from an animal that lived in a pen for its life, was fed chemically treated corn and drank water contaminated by the local chemical or sewage plant, what happens when we put it in our animal’s body? Yuck!

Plants are not only good for animals, they have healing properties that can help heal certain ailments too. Adding vegetables to your animal’s diet, is similar to the contents of the stomach of prey in the wild. These essential vegetables contain antioxidants, cleansing properties, as well as healing properties specific to the plant. When selecting vegetables, also consider if it was naturally grown vs. grown with chemicals. Here is a quick table of foods that you may already have in your home that you can easily add to your pet’s diet.

Food Source Nutrient Healing Properties
Apples Pectin Digestive Cleansing
Beans (black beans, soybeans, garbanzo beans) Regulate blood sugar levels Immune support
Broccoli Vitamins A, B, K, C  Potassium Zinc Antioxidant Anti-inflammatory
Carrots Beta Carotene Antioxidant Blood Sugar Regulation
Celery Sodium Bone Health Anti-inflammatory
Coconut Oil Lauric Acid Capric Acid Caprylic Acid. Antioxidant Digestive Aid Immune Support
Fish Omega 3 Fatty Acids Allergies Arthritis Heart Disease
Garlic Sulfur Immune Support Anti-parasitic (helps ward off fleas/ticks
Ginger Digestive Cleansing
Kale & other green leafy vegetables All kinds of minerals Alkalizing
Sweet Potato Beta Carotene Antioxidant Cancer Prevention
Turmeric Curcuminoids Pain relief Anti-inflammatory Blood purification

It’s Easy to Make Food For Your Animal Companion While scooping kibble from the bag in the bowl, is a convenient way to feed your animal companion, consider the inconvenience of the numerous vet visits for the ailments that stem from a poor diet. A torn ligament or muscle may not have happened if they were receiving the proper proteins and nutrients; kidney disease could have been avoided if the blood was flowing properly and carrying waste efficiently and not putting extra strain on the kidneys.

Making meals for your animal companion can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. If you feed your companions twice a day, consider making it a part of your breakfast and dinner routine. For example, have your meat defrosted the night before for the next day, puree veggies from the refrigerator (whatever you have on hand), bone (short ribs, chicken wings, turkey neck, etc. are great ways to add bone to the animal’s meal) and supplements (garlic, ginger, turmeric, etc.). If making food daily is too cumbersome, consider making food in batches and freezing it. You can also save money by asking your local butcher for scraps available after processing animals and parts most people do not eat – tongue, heart, liver, kidneys, tripe. Consider purchasing a portion of a cow (1/8th, 1/4th, 1/2, etc.) at a significantly reduced cost per pound and store it in a chest freezer in the basement or garage. Or during deer season, contact your local deer processor, they often have lots of leftover meat on the bone that you can take for free and cut up into sizable chunks and freeze for your animal.

Most holistic veterinarians do recommend feeding a fresh food diet, though as with human diets there are a lot of different opinions. General guidelines for a balanced diet in dogs is 40% to 70% protein (meat, organs, bone, etc.), while cats need 70% to 90% protein. The balance is from finely pureed fruits, vegetables and occasionally high protein grains.

Raising the Vibration of the Food In addition to raising the vibration of the food by reducing the amount of processing, chemicals and human interventions, you can also contribute to raising the vibration of the food you feed your best friend. Depending on your religion or background, you can easily raise the vibration of the food through meditation, prayer, intention, Reiki, etc. Spend a few minutes offering thanks to the plants and animals that comprise the food and observe the health benefits for your companion over time.

 Dr. Christina Chambreau is an internationally known holistic veterinarian, author, speaker and editor of the Integrative Veterinary Care Journal. Dr. Chambreau presents internationally on diet and nutrition, homeopathy and other holistic practices.

Kevyn Matthews The Dog Chef, is a nationally renowned dog chef, designing custom meal plans for dogs; as well as special diets that treat a variety of ailments, including cancer, kidney failure, allergies, skin conditions, among others. Kevyn has been featured on Animal Planet's "Dogs 101", Good Morning Connecticut, CBS' "The Mobile Couch".

Kendell Reichhart is a Holistic Health Counselor who focuses "why" we are having our health issues.  She got into the field due to her own health issues, which were all diet (and digestion) related, and decided she needed to help others understand the importance of what goes into our bodies and the effects it can have.  Kendell does urine, saliva and blood testing to help determine what is going on with our health, and the steps needed to get the body back into balance... and what applies to us also applies to the animals.

Kathleen Lester, M.S. is the founder of the Animal Reiki Alliance, Reiki Teacher, animal massage therapist, and has been making food for her animals for the past 8 years. Kathleen is also studying Animal Naturopathy and working on her certification to become a Natural Animal Health Coach.

- See more at: