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HOLISTIC HEALTH AND GROOMING
FOR YOUR PETS

Alternative medicine, herbs, acupuncture, flower essences, aromatherapy, homeopathy and just about any other alternative therapy you can think of are not just for humans anymore. Today, these various holistic approaches are also being used for preventing disease, boosting immunity and treating every sort of illness for pets as well.

While it's still not common for most standard veterinarians to use these healing modalities, there are a growing number of them who are incorporating these therapies into their practice.

Just as in seeking human alternative approaches toward healthcare, when seeking out alternative specialists who work with animals it helps to network with other people, use both standard and "natural" yellow pages, and do your own research using online resources, visiting your library or local pet store.

Natural Pet Products "We're lucky to be living in a time when there are so many choices in natural products to care for our pets," says Monica Gardner-Moore, owner of Hartman Creek Pet Center and a natural pet care writer.

"It wasn't that long ago when I had to steep an herbal solution and pour boiling water over thinly-sliced lemons to make my own flea-shampoo," says Gardner-Moore. "Today, I have my work cut out for me just to choose between the great many natural flea control products now available."

Gardner-Moore says that with little effort you can also find naturally preserved and prepared pet food, dietary supplements that provide nutrients not commonly found in processed foods, shampoos and grooming solutions with skin pampering herbs and oils and herbal preparations designed to alleviate flea and tick problems.

But like all things labeled "natural" the buyer should still beware warns Gardner-Moore. Even the most seemingly natural products are processed, preserved, diluted and dehydrated. As with anything else you buy, most likely it will be left up to you the to determine the effectiveness and quality of the products you purchase for your pet.

So how do you tell if a natural pet care product is working any better--or worse than a commercially processed one with artificial and chemical ingredients? One obvious answer is to closely watch your pet's condition.

Are the fleas gone? Has a rash developed? Does your pet's mood seem to be the same? Check their ears, nose, mouth and coats to see that no new conditions have developed. After all, who knows your pet better than you do?

Natural Pet Care Tips

Spreading diatomaceous earth (natural or insect-grade, not pool-grade) on your lawn can help control fleas. Take care not to inhale the dust while you spread it though--it can irritate your respiratory system.

To control fleas on indoor carpets, prepare a mixture of salt, borax and lavender. Sprinkle over your carpets, let sit for 15 minutes, then vacuum. If you live in a humid climate, avoid the salt because it absorbs moisture and will cause mildew and mold growth.

Just as in humans, skin care is vital for your pet's good health. For dry skin, look for liquid, spray or cream moisturizers that contain any of the following ingredients: tea tree oil, aloe vera, coconut oil, jojoba oil, vitamin E, chamomile, calendula, oatmeal or eucalyptus. Dietary supplements of essential fatty acids are also helpful for maintaining healthy skin.

Try adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, garlic and nutritional yeast to your pet's food. These help repel pests like ticks and fleas.

For owners who suffer from allergies as a result of their pets, you may find relief by rinsing your pet in distilled water.

Just as you may use filtered or bottled water to avoid chemicals and sediment, consider using it for your pet's drinking water. Poor water quality requires more work from the kidneys and can cause urinary tract problems. A standard store bought filtering system like Brita works well and is less expensive than bottled water.


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