I ran across this article and found it really enlightening. I am in the process of restructuring my breeding program. I am changing my breeding stock from kibble to all natural and raw food. I can already see the diference in my dams. Their energy level is out of site and my senior dogs have been acting like puppies.
I will incorporate all natural, holistic healing, alternative healing and Modern Veterinary care.
I hope you will continue to monitor our transition. It will be a slow process but I really believe well worth the effort.
The basic principals of natural rearing are both simple and elegant. Yet to the newcomer, the wealth of detailed information can be overwhelming. Probably the hardest part is first "unlearning" what we have taken for granted for most of our lives. Simply stated it means going back in time and treating our animals the way our grandmother on the farm used to treat them.
What makes this difficult is the billions of dollars that have been spent over the last fifty years to convince you, your breeder, your vet, your government (all levels), and most of your pet owning friends, that you must vaccinate your animal every year, feed only scientifically 100% balanced nutritional pet food, etc. In other words if you do not follow the orthodox "wisdom" of caring for your animal, you are considered to be irresponsible. If you don't follow the dogma, conventional wisdom will tell you that you will probably kill your pet or at the very least be asking for some crippling disease or malformation.
Common Sense Question: How did the species survive for thousands of years without all these wonderful "advances" in animal rearing?
Answer: The species is tougher than what you have been taught to believe!
The tools of modern science have provided solid evidence that many of the "old ways" are far superior in providing the elements needed for a strong immune system and a vital, healthy animal that can bring joy to the human/animal bonding relationship. More and more owners are coming to realize that the misery experienced with their animal relationship can be laid directly on the doorstep of following modern, conventional rearing methods. The growth of interest in "natural" foods and "alternative" medicine is a sure sign that people are slowly rejecting the way we have been taught to do things in the latter half of this century.
Bearing this in mind, we can begin to learn about natural rearing by first questioning so called "conventional" wisdom. This is a giant step and for many people, a hard thing to do. There is so much in modern knowledge that is truly wonderful, that the process of separating what is "hype" foisted on us by the big boys and what is sound, useful and practical information, can be, and often is, confusing.
To put the learning process in perspective we need to address three broad categories:
- Diet (including food, water, and supplements).
- Vaccinations (conventional, holistic and a fundamental understanding of the immune system).
- Veterinary medicine (conventional, holistic and when to use the best of both worlds).
During your fact finding mission, you may not like what you find out for it is much more comfortable to follow the illusions created by the hype then it is to face up to the harsh realities of truth. Nowhere is this more self evident than in the knowledge about "pet food" and vaccination--the twin nemesis of natural rearing. We have expounded on these in past issues of our newsletter but for the newcomer that wants to zero in on some facts please refer to:
- Food For Thought
An article on how commercial pet foods are made, drawn from personal experience.
- It's In The Bag
An article about the raw materials used in pet foods.
These two articles alone should provide enough basic information to give you good reason to consider some other way of providing your animal with food from a source other than the highly touted commercial stuff. Please note that I didn't call it garbage. Garbage could actually provide better nutrition than the "stuff" they put in most bags and cans.
I will be forever thankful to Juliette de Bairacli Levy for her book "The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat". It was first published over 50 years ago and I truly consider her to be the "grandmother" of natural rearing. When I first decided to learn about the subject, there was no one I could turn to for advice on diet, etc. With the help of the information in this book, I set up my original raw food diet. I studied, read and re-read the book so many times that my original copy was falling apart. Finally I was confident that I was following a tried and true method of providing the best nutrition possible. Over the last few years I have modified it slightly by adding more raw bones and have added certain other supplements for my senior animals. Nevertheless, with all the additional knowledge I have gained over the years, I still use the same basic diet and supplement with Juliette's herbal formulas. Nothing in modern science has indicated to me any sound reason to change what I am feeding my hounds. The principals of this basic diet have been used for centuries by thousands of breeders all over the world.
I would strongly recommend this book for the newcomer. For a quick summary of what I feed, I would suggest you review "A Fresh Food Diet."
The two most frequently asked questions I get with respect to a raw diet are:
Q: Aren't you afraid of Salmonella or bacterial contamination of the raw meat?
A: Absolutely not! Firstly, a healthy dog is well equipped by nature to handle the "bugs" that we have been taught to fear. How else could the species have survived (both in the wild and domesticated) for thousands of years, feeding on raw foods? If you are unable to get over this fear, the solution is extremely simple. Pre soak the meat in grapefruit seed extract or food grade hydrogen peroxide to kill off any germs. I have never bothered, but the extra step may be worth it if it gives you more peace of mind. (Elderly or weaker animals could benefit from this).
Q: When you feed raw bones, like chicken wings, aren't you afraid your dogs will get splinters, or choke or get hurt from them?
A: Again, absolutely not! If you cook them that's a different story. Cooked bones are brittle and can splinter and cause problems. Raw bones, such as those in chicken wings are actually flexible to some degree and break clean. Dogs and cats are carnivores and have been designed by Mother Nature to consume and digest raw bones as part of their normal diet.
There are many books on the market that provide a number of different recipes for preparing your own pet food. I am comfortable with the diet I use but it is not "the only way" to feed a dog. Just as different grandmothers fed variations of diets to their animals, there is no one right way. The underlying principals though remain the same. There simply is no commercially produced food that can substitute for a basic raw diet! It's what nature intended and you know it just doesn't pay to fool with Mother Nature.Water
There is an old saying "Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink". In the modern world this adage has taken on greater meaning then ever before! To even begin to grasp the present state of our drinking water,"Chlorinated Water...A Big No-No", "Chlorinated Water--More Bad News" and "Fluoride" are must read articles for anyone seeking to maintain good health!Supplements
If we were to lay out a map of Natural Rearing we would mark this area "Here there be Dragons". When it comes to supplements there are some pretty wild claims being made. What you will find in many instances is that the "back room" advertising boys will take a kernel of truth and twist it to make it appear that this or that product is God's gift to mankind to solve.. (fill in the blank). Most of us are prepared to take the hype with a grain of salt but how do you separate the good stuff from the junk?
To start with you need some basic background on the industry and how these products find there way to the consumer. "Herbs For Health or Profit?" will provide some insight on the majority (not all) of the herbal supplements that abound in our country. "Vitamins--Natural Vs. Synthetic" will help the newcomer to understand that the body does know the difference! "Supplements--Do You Need Them" will give you some ammunition to make your own decision.
I would suggest the newcomer read the above articles before proceeding to the various articles on specific supplements.Vaccinations
The subject of diet is one that the newcomer can adapt to without too much trouble because it makes so much sense. However, when we turn to the subject of vaccination the underlying fear of disease is so great that there is an enormous emotional reaction to even begin to question the process. There is a deep, ingrained belief that we must follow conventional vaccination practices to protect our animals. If we can bear to be brave enough to at least scratch the surface of truth, there is a tendency to run and hide from the new knowledge that we come across. Unfortunately, the newcomer is suddenly asked to face the fact that WITH ANY FORM OF VACCINATION (CONVENTIONAL OR UNCONVENTIONAL) THERE ARE NO 100% GUARANTEES THAT AN ANIMAL WILL NOT CONTRACT THE DISEASE THAT THE VACCINATION WAS INTENDED TO PROTECT AGAINST!!
This is pretty scary stuff. It takes real work to overcome the fear and actually apply an open mind to the subject. As we pick up more knowledge we find ourselves moving way outside our comfort zone and may wish that we were back in our "blissfully ignorant" stage.
For those with the tenacity to follow through in their quest for truth, the rewards are enormous and proportional to the effort of learning. For the beginner I would suggest reading "Vaccinations" to get a simplified understanding on conventional immunization factors. The later part of that article in particular will provide you with news on the subject from a Holistic Vet Conference. To obtain a brief understanding of a holistic approach please refer to"Homeopathy--Some Basics" and "Nosodes."
To really get a handle on the subject of immunization we should have some basic understanding of the immune system. For this I would suggest reading "The Immune System." I have tried in this article to make a very complex subject as simple as I can without losing some of the necessary technical information.
To round out the quest for understanding I would strongly recommend reading "The Master Key to Health--Enzymes."
One word of encouragement I can give you regarding vaccination protocols is that finally the conventional community, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, is seriously reviewing the subject and coming to the conclusion that present practices are probably flawed. Holistic vets have been saying this for years but it is only now that the "orthodox" vets are getting around to questioning the lack of science behind the methods used for vaccinating our animals.Veterinary Medicine
Speaking of veterinarians, let's move on to the subject of veterinary medicine. There is little doubt that the "Western" world has produced some of the finest "emergency" medicine in the world. Modern science has provided some outstanding tools for diagnostic purposes. Conventional medicine views the body as a mechanical device and seeks to put a label on a problem through symptomatic description. Treatment is generally by surgery or drugs. The D.V.M. of today is superbly schooled in the use of these modalities. What seems to have been pushed aside is the old primary rule of medicine "Firstly, do no harm". Over vaccination and over use of antibiotics and steroids are common.
The holistic veterinarian has learned to question some of what he has been taught and has gone on from earning his D.V.M. to trying to become a "healer" in the true sense of the word. In general, drugs for suppression of symptoms are rarely used. Instead the holistic practitioner seeks to determine the underlying cause of the symptom and may use one or several modalities to support and revitalize the body's own method of healing. Recognition of the "Vital Force" in a living body is freely given and considered to be as important as the "mechanistic" model learned in school. An attempt is made to view the animal as a "whole" individual being and more than just the sum of its parts.
One of the challenges for the newcomer is the sheer quantity of unfamiliar terms and labels used to describe the various modalities. No one term (such as holistic medicine, alternative medicine, complementary medicine, naturopathic medicine, or even integrative medicine) can describe the entire field for all the modalities involved.
Our Western trained minds are so used to focusing on the "one problem--one solution" aspect of health care, that it takes a major effort to adapt to a new way of thinking. Every animal is a unique individual with its own strengths and weaknesses and needs to be viewed from that perspective. Mass production medicine has been rammed down our throats for so long that we expect to find a "magic bullet" readily available for our animals' problems. Sorry folks, it just doesn't work that way! Suppressing the symptom does not mean that a cure has been affected.
The challenge for the D.V.M. that chooses to practice a "Holistic" form of medicine, is the sheer volume of modalities utilized throughout the world. No one person could possibly become an "expert" in every field. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association lists the following modalities in their directory: Acupuncture, Bach Flower Remedies, Chinese Herbs, Chiropractic, Clinical Nutrition, Color Therapy, Conventional Medicine, Electroacupuncture according to Voll, Glandular Therapy, Homeopathy (Classical and other), Interro, Biotron ll, Nutrition, Magnetic Therapy, Pulsating Magnetic Therapy, and Western Herbs.
This list, although extensive is by no means complete. Entire fields of study such as Ayurvedic Veterinary Medicine, Environmental Medicine, and many others, are also open for investigation and incorporation into a veterinarian practice.
For the student of natural rearing there is no need to be overwhelmed by the plethora of information available. Rather, take comfort in knowing that there are many ways to deal with health problems and there is always hope when conventional medicine has given up.
Most enthusiasts will find themselves turning to holistic care first, as their primary source of veterinary medicine. Conventional treatment is usually reserved for the emergency situation that can pop up from time to time. Both have their place.
One of the goals of natural rearing is to minimize the need for any veterinarian assistance. Prevention of ill-ness and fostering of well-ness can be achieved if a total program is followed. Providing your animal with the best chance of "being all that it can be" is a lofty goal, worthy of the extra effort it takes to accept the responsibility and think for yourself.
There is no substitute for fresh, wholesome food, clean water, exercise, plenty of fresh air and avoidance of chemicals and drugs to the greatest extent possible. Just the way it used to be on grandmother's farm.
It is said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. I have learned to enjoy the natural rearing journey and I hope you will too. I know your animals certainly will!