Who says healers only come with two legs? Not in our world. Our Giant Schnauzer, Lyla, is the light of our household, our best companion. It is true. I refer to her as our family healer, our therapist and even our very own shaman all rolled into one. She is an instant de-stresser and instinctively knows just when we need some extra TLC. She is a total crack-up and my daughters request daily pics of her to be texted to them when they are away to get their fix! Yes, Lyla has a permanent place in our hearts and all of those that get to know her.
It makes no sense to make the effort to take care of our own health so carefully in ways that I write about in this blog and not include extending that care to a most vital family member: our pets. They deserve good health and we can help provide it.
Natural Ways to Care For Your DogBesides regular exercise, lots of affection (no problem there!), check-ups and good quality dog food, here are some other practices that we incorporate into our care for our precious Lyla to keep her feeling her best. But, always check with your vet before trying something new for your canine pal.
Be a Player. Our Lyla is sharp. She is a fast learner and loves to play games. Stimulation is so important for all of us including our four legged friends. Hide and seek, retrieving, obstacle courses, chase -- Lyla loves all if it. And. wrestling? She could do that all day! All these are great ways we keep her (and our ourselves) from not taking life too seriously and creating some free fun in our day.
Mist away ticks and fleas. Lyme disease is no joke, but those pesticides we reach for to spread on our dogs' skin aren't either. They carry a lot of toxicity for your dog and you (as you get exposed as well when you pet her). In fact, years ago, Lyla was throwing up on a monthly basis. After we ruled out other possibilities, we suspected it was the monthly tick repellent we were administering to her. Sure enough, when I stopped giving her that, the vomiting stopped as well.
There are many natural tick repellents on the market now that you could try or you could make your own. Fleas are repelled by the essential oils contained in these mixtures and they smell pretty nice too. For example, the essential oil rose geranium has been shown to be successful for repelling ticks from dogs. Here is some other information on essential oils that could help.
Keep a spray bottle by your door so that you can mist your pooch upon going outdoors. I keep it in my car as well for those impromptu hikes or other times I throw my favorite travel companion in the car for an outing. To make your own repellent spray, check out this post.
In addition, conduct thorough tick exams on your dogs during the high season. Go here to find out more about what to look for and the best way to remove ticks.
Keep 'em cool. The heat of summer is just around the corner. Keep fresh water always available and include a portable bowl and water bottle in your car. Watch those darker coated pets (like mine!) as they absorb more heat than lighter coated canines. Kiddie pools, ice in the water bowl, water spritzers and sprinklers are all good ways to cool off your favorite playmate.
Top it off with some yogurt. Plain yogurt is a healthy treat for your dog and the live acidophilus in the yogurt keeps the good bacteria in your dog's intestines in balance, especially if your dog is on antibiotics. Puppies can be prone to yeast infections as well so a little plain yogurt on top of their meals can help while the intestinal system is building immunities. There is also a powder form you can sprinkle on your dog's food as well that I obtained from my vet when Lyla was having tummy problems.
Tea time for all. Chamomile tea is great for alleviating skin irritations for pets. Go ahead and make a cup for yourself before bed (as it has great calming effects) but make a little extra. Let it cool overnight and pour it into a spray bottle. Mist over aggravated skin areas for some relief.
Polish those incisors. Those teeth offer serious protection, but not if they fall out or get a painful infection. Brush your dog's teeth often (daily is best) or even as my vet suggested, take a bit of gauze to cover your finger and brush the teeth with your finger. The gauze provides friction to brush away tartar buildup.
Toss the plastic. Use stainless steel bowls to feed your dog as plastic can get nicks and scrapes that will trap bacteria that your pooch may ingest. Stainless will not do this. Remember to wash the food and water bowls regularly with very hot, soapy water to keep bacteria away as well.
Keep the diet whole. Uh . . . have your read up on what is in some of the commercial dog foods? It is a crime, really. We try to focus on a whole foods diet at our house and that goes for Lyla too. She gets good quality dog food each morning, but when I am preparing dinner, Lyla comes running once she hears that knife hit the cutting board. Why? She knows she is getting her evening snack of fruits and veg! No picky eater here. She loves it all! Here are some raw vegetables/fruits I include regularly depending on what I am making for the family that evening:
- green beans (I always save the tips for her!)
- romaine lettuce ribs
- apples (no seeds!)
- pears (no seeds!)
- red bell peppers (not the hot ones!)
- sweet potatoes (These are cooked. Before seasoning them for the family, I take out a big scoop and let cool for her.)
- white potatoes (cooked)
Remember: Not all vegetables are safe to be eaten by your dog. In fact, they can harm. Always confirm with your vet before introducing a new food and check out this list of harmful foods for dogs.
So what about you and your four legged pal? What special measures do you take or home remedies you could share? Lyla and I would love to know!
sprinkler: photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ablight/4650280927/">A. Blight</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommo