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September 17, 2014

4 Pet Practices that need to Stop: Small Changes to improve our Pets’ Lives.

 

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Some things have become so ingrained in our culture that we forget to question them.

Both force of habit and the “that’s what everyone does” school of thought can be strong influencers when it comes to our behavior.

Fortunately, in recent years, our society has become much more conscientious about how our habits impact our own health and wellbeing, as well as that of those around us.

Unfortunately, though, the world of animal care seems to be lagging a bit behind and many harmful practices are still widely accepted. Here, we explore a few of the most harmful practices and what you can do to help stop them.

Breeding & Buying

You want a dog or cat because it’s cute and cuddly and makes your life better, right? Not because it has a certain appearance that’s been falsely created over hundreds of years of inbreeding.

Many people don’t realize that purebred dogs and cats are only “pure” because their ancestors were made to breed with other “pure,” close relatives. Over the years, these animals have developed significant health problems. And the breeding industry that’s grown to support the demand for certain breeds is notorious for cruel, profit-driven practices.

The very best thing you can do is to adopt one of the many, many rescue animals who fill animal rescue centers to overflowing. Not only will you be literally saving that animal’s life, but you’ll end up with a much healthier mixed-breed animal who doesn’t carry the pre-disposition to dangerous medical conditions that will likely shorten its years and reduce its quality of life.

Junk Food

It’s well known these days that mass-produced, packaged food is terrible for our health. So, people are spending less at the grocery store and more at the farmers’ market and foregoing the instant meal for the slow, home-cooked one. We now understand that real food is the stuff that comes from plants instead of being created in a plant (thanks Michael Pollan).

Yet, overly-processed package food prevails in the pet world. The unfortunate fact is that most of the pet food sold in grocery stores is barely food at all and consists mostly of harmful filler stuff that causes all kinds of serious health problems for our beloved dogs and cats. Why? Because it hardly resembles what these species ate as they evolved in the wild.

The best thing we can do for our carnivorous canine and feline friends is to give them a raw food diet that more closely mimics what they’d eat if left to their own devices. Feeding them raw meat might feel weird to you at first, but rest assured that your pet will love it and that it will greatly benefit their health in the long run.

Limiting Health Care

These days, nobody even blinks when you tell them that you’re getting acupuncture or taking herbal supplements to aid your health—it’s become widely accepted that traditional medicine is far from the only effective path to optimum health. And the very same should be true for our pets.

Instead of solely seeking the care and advice of a traditional veterinarian, why not consult a holistic vet? These professional practitioners have a huge range of treatments and approaches available to them, none of which involve harmful chemical cures that do nothing to remedy underlying causes of health problems.

Holistic veterinarians, on the other hand, have a whole other approach. Their practice is all about getting to know your individual animal and providing recommendations for lifestyle changes that prevent serious health issues down the line. These kinds of changes can help you avoid having to pay for costly surgeries and treatments or watch your pet suffer painful health problems.

Buying Everything

The pet care industry is ginormous and hugely profitable.

Just as new parents tend to go overboard buying every baby item known to man, new pet owners sometimes go a bit crazy in the local Petco. In reality, many of the items we buy for our pets is entirely unnecessary and just becomes a drain on our wallets and the environment.

Instead, go DIY crazy and use your creativity to find inventive solutions to your pet-related quandaries. Skip the $100 fancy dog or cat bed and stuff some old t-shirts into a pair of jeans or sweat pants that you don’t wear anymore for a comfy and familiar resting spot. And instead of feeding your dog expensive and unhealthy treats, make your own by baking thin strips of organic chicken in the oven until they’re crispy and treat-worthy.

You wake up at five in the morning to walk your dog, spend your vacation money on vet bills and laugh at the fact that your kitten has torn up your favorite leather chair. We frequently sacrifice and go above and beyond to make our pets’ lives better. Even still, many harmful practices are a part of traditional pet care.

But the good news is that many are starting to apply the same principles of alternative health and green living to the care of their furry friends. The conversion might be slow-going, but with each person who prioritizes the natural health needs and happiness of their pet, we get one step closer to a more humane system of animal care.

 

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Narayan Khalsa

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