Does the following apply to you and your pet? You’re feeding your animal the best foods on the market, perhaps even preparing your pet’s meals yourself, supplementing with good-quality vitamins and minerals, herbs, and homeopathic remedies, and still your animal is not in peak form. If this is the case, in all likelihood the reason for your lack of success is that you are not clearing out old debris. As with humans, many of the conditions we see in animals—cataracts, arthritis, and allergies, to name a few—are really symptoms of toxicity. Dr. Lisa Newman, a Tucson, Arizona, naturopathic physician who specializes in animal care and has authored a series of books in the Crossing Press Natural Pet Care series, compares an overburdened body to a dirty engine: “… if you never change the oil, that, in and of itself, will wear down the performance of the engine, and eventually kill the car, even if you are putting in better fuel or additives.”
The problem is that traditional veterinary medicine suppresses symptoms, without dealing with the more basic problem of toxicity. Sooner or later, the symptoms reappear. What’s more, the chemicals used add to the toxic burden, making it more difficult for the immune system to create a curative response. Unfortunately, many supposedly holistic practitioners actually work in the same old way, treating conditions with some natural substance in lieu of cleansing the system. For instance, they may substitute the herb ephedra for an over-the-counter antihistamine, but once the herbal treatment is stopped, the symptoms return. In the long term, instead of having overcome the condition, the patient weakens. The alternative, then, is this: Rather than just treat our pets with one product or another, no matter how natural, we need to get to the root of the problem by cleansing.
Detoxification is the foundation of good health. It’s what’s needed first, before all the good nutrients and natural remedies can take effect. A detox program will often help reverse chronic conditions, and in some cases it may be all that’s needed to eliminate them. Detoxification is a great way to help the body work from the inside out, dumping stored wastes and toxins, and letting the body start its own curative response.
Today’s animals are especially in need of detoxification. They come into the world already sick from the toxic blood their mother passes on to them while they are in the womb. Once born, they are exposed to a myriad of toxins through food, air, water, and vaccinations. Veterinary journals tell us that our pets are healthier than ever before, yet they contradict themselves by lowering the age of an animal’s life expectancy. Consider that ten years ago, dogs reached senior status at nine; today the number has been lowered to seven. Furthermore, animals are getting sick at younger ages. Veterinarians used to treat older animals for cancer. Now there is an epidemic of cancer in one- and two-year-olds. The reason? Too much exposure to chemicals, over-vaccination, less nutrition from foods. In short, they’ve got too much garbage to deal with. Our animals need to be detoxified in order to reclaim lost ground and live longer, healthier lives.
A good detoxification program can not only reverse chronic illness; it can also be lifesaving to an injured pet in that it may give an animal more power to fight infection and protect itself from internal damage. Newman provides an example: a dog bitten by a rattlesnake that showed none of the usual symptoms of shock, neurological damage, or hyperventilation. As soon as the dog was attacked its body immediately mounted a defense against the venom and protected its brain and lung tissues, two areas that are usually damaged by rattlesnake venom. The emergency clinic was able to release the dog five hours later—versus the usual three-day stay—which Newman attributed to “detoxification on a regular basis, homeopathic support, and a good clean diet with nutritional supplementation to maintain the strongest immune system possible.”
Did you know that animals in the wild fast? Of course they do! They are hunters that binge after catching prey and fast when food is unavailable. In the modern world we tend to think that animals need to eat on a regular, constant schedule. We’ve learned that from conventional veterinary medicine and from big pet food companies. But really, animals, left to their own devices, will eat at intervals regulated by their bodily needs and success at hunting, not by the time of day.
We can help our pets by letting them skip a meal, or giving them no food for a day, only clean water, broth, and a little juice. Important: Be sure your pet has access to plenty of liquids, especially water, during a fast. This will release toxins from the colon and clear up all sorts of chronic illnesses that manifest as digestive, skin, joint, urinary, and other problems. Putting your animal on a 24-hour fast lets its body rest from the hard work of digesting food. That lets the animal redirect that energy into the healing it needs to do. Some of the conditions that may be helped by fasting are:
Intestinal parasites Lethargy Liver disease Malabsorption
Mucous congestion (eyes, throat, lungs, urine, colon)
Plaque buildup Senility
Of course each animal is a unique individual, so before placing any animal on a fast, consult with your holistic veterinarian to be sure there are no special problems that would make going on a fast counterproductive. As a rule of thumb, you do not want to fast kittens, puppies, or geriatric pets. A sick animal might need cleansing done more slowly than the average pet. If an animal vomits or gets diarrhea during the fast, it should be stopped. Give Kaopectate every half hour to an hour to soothe and protect the intestines and stop the cleansing. Wait several days, and start once again, more slowly, perhaps skipping a meal that day. But do continue to fast the animal, even at a slower pace, since these animals are in dire need of cleansing. For the majority of animals, however, a 24-hour fast can be done without difficulty.
Newman recommends feeding your pet its regular breakfast at the beginning of the fast. Again, the pet should have free access to plenty of water to help it flush wastes and toxins out of its system. Broth (see below), as well as nonacidic fruit and vegetable juices could also be given to the animal. (Stay away from acidic juices, such as tomato or orange.) Fruit juices cleanse, while vegetables build. Overall, juices help to nourish, heal, and rejuvenate the billions of cells in your animal’s body while reversing degeneration. Specifically, carrot-celery and carrot-parsnip juices are excellent aids in detoxification. Carrot-beet helps the liver and kidneys. Sprouts can be juiced, too, for their live enzymes and rich nutrient value. In addition, a little dandelion works well to move a sluggish liver and alleviate such conditions as skin abnormalities and chronic bad breath.
Don’t be overly concerned if your pet, particularly your dog, is begging you for food at this time. Most of this is a psychological dependence, not a physiological need. Although your dog may be missing its regular foods, it’s certainly getting plenty of quality nutrients from juice and broth during this time.
Another idea to keep in mind for when your pet is fasting: Try freezing a little fruit juice into cubes so that your animal can lick them at dinnertime to get a sense of eating. Moreover, you should also let your animal exercise on a fasting day to get its mind off food. Exercise has the added advantage of helping the bowels move to eliminate poisons.
This is an especially important time to brush and massage the animal’s coat. You want to keep toxins moving through the pores and this will help with the elimination process.
Healing crises are familiar to people who try to “clean up their act.” You stop smoking after 10 years and start to develop a hacking cough. That serves the purpose of getting tar out of your lungs. Unfortunately, most of us don’t look at these healing-crisis symptoms as friends; we try to suppress them, taking suppressants to stop our cigarette cough. But nature is the true healer that puts the body back into balance, and symptoms are a part of that process.
“The healing crisis is anything but a quick fix,” says Dr. Martin Goldstein, a veterinarian in South Salem, New York, and author of The Nature of Animal Healing: The Path to Your Pet’s Health, Happiness, and Longevity. Goldstein has this perspective on the phenomenon: “A lot of times it’s the make/break point. An animal or person in a healing crisis will look like they’re getting worse. Unfortunately, in veterinary medicine, that’s the point where the animal’s either heavily drugged or euthanized.” He adds that the situation is like a “Catch-22,” in which the body is trying to heal, usually through inflammation. He reminds us that the inflammation is there not as punishment, but rather “to bring the healing forces of the body to the area. A lot of the drugs we’ve developed are anti-inflammatory drugs, which actually suppress nature’s ability to heal, and the ultimate result is you wind up with cancer. Right now the Morris Foundation has reported that 47 percent of disease-related deaths in dogs in the United States are due to cancer.”
As we’ve mentioned, you can assist the detoxification process with a combination of homeopathic Arsenicum and Nux Vomica. The Arsenicum will help the body eliminate toxins and the Nux Vomica will reduce any nausea your pet may experience during the strenuous process of detoxifying. Give the animal three, four, or more doses during the 24-hour period, depending on the animal’s condition. You can also add a diuretic, such as juniper berry, to help move things out. In addition, a few drops of Essiac tea extract will further aid the detoxification process.
Most of the time, a healing crisis is not severe; it will pass in a short time. If, however, symptoms last longer than a few days, have a blood test performed to rule out any underlying problems. In most instances, the crisis soon passes, and the animal becomes more vibrant and healthy than before.
Your animal is now on the road to wellness, better able to utilize nutrients for health and healing. Continue to steer it in the right direction with a regenerative diet, vitamins and minerals, and periodic fasting. Here are some ideas:
A note about sea vegetables: They may not fit into your current paradigm of “what’s for dinner” for either you or Fido, but don’t let that put you off. Both humans and other animals can benefit from this excellent source of digestible protein and trace minerals; the latter are vital to health but sadly lacking in our depleted soils. Sea vegetables are also extremely cleansing, as they are able to bind with toxins, even harsh heavy metals and radioactive substances, and flush them out of the system.
Sea vegetables come in many varieties. The brown algae kelp and fucus are rich in potassium and can be sprinkled on foods as a condiment to add flavor. They will help remove strontium and radioactive iodine from the system. Red algae include gigartina, nori, dulce, and Irish moss and will absorb toxins from the digestive tract, including radioactive plutonium. The green alga sea lettuce is high in iron and cesium and will remove carcinogens. Be sure to follow package directions when preparing these.
How much vitamin C should your animal be getting? Generally, a small dog or a cat will need between 500 and 1000 milligrams daily, and a medium to large dog will need between 1000 and 3000 milligrams daily to maintain optimal health. If the animal has hip dysplasia, arthritis, allergies, cancer, or any auto-immune condition, it may need more. Start with 500 mg and build up to bowel tolerance, the point before the animal’s stool becomes loose. In other words, if your animal gets diarrhea, you must reduce the dose to just under that level. Try mixing an ester-C powder into your animal’s food. Or you could use calcium ascorbate, a less expensive substitute that is also quite effective.
Your animal is enjoying the benefits of a holistic lifestyle, fasting periodically, and following a diet that helps to support detoxification and rejuvenation processes. In many instances that’s enough. However, there are times where your animal might need extra support. Now is the time to pull out your holistic medicine chest to fine-tune your animal’s health.
According to Chinese medicine, the skin is connected to the liver. If your animal has a skin condition, chances are the liver is overworked, too. To be sure, get a blood test done. That will tell you whether or not the liver’s enzyme levels are normal. If the diagnosis is a sluggish liver, work with your holistic veterinarian to reverse the condition.
You may choose to create a holistic protocol with home remedies, such as milk thistle to decongest the liver and burdock root or juniper berry to flush out toxins (be sure to use herbs that promote both steps). If you prefer an already-made formula, Earth Animal carries a homeopathic product called Liver Detox. A little finely chopped watercress or parsley added to the food might help too. Repeating the blood test in a month will let you know whether your holistic protocol has taken effect and if any modifications are needed.
The most commonly used formula for this purpose is Thuja (12X or 30C). The pellet is crushed and placed on the tongue an hour before or after feedings for seven days after a vaccination to help eliminate compromising effects on the immune system.
Of course, the best insurance against weakening the system is to vaccinate as little as possible. So rather than have your pet routinely revaccinated, be sure to have a blood titer done to see if antibodies to a specific disease are still present. If they are, there is no need to revaccinate for that illness. (These issues are discussed at length in Chapter 9.)
Follow these simple guidelines for detoxifying your animal on a regular basis and you will increase your animal’s chances for living a longer and healthier life. “That’s what’s so beautiful about lifestyle approaches,” says Dr. Newman. “The foundation is the same regardless of the disease that you’re dealing with because you’re dealing with the animal’s system, rather than the symptoms.”