Have you ever wished you were as healthy as your dog? Do pets stay healthy intuitively? Canine wisdom provides dogs with an abundance of sage (along with not-so-sage) health tips. If dogs could talk, perhaps they’d give us the scoop as follows.
Here’s an article I wrote for ProHealth.com revealing 5 Health Tips From Your Dog:
I write about my pup quite often. She provides a great example of what can happen to a pet (or a person!) when healthy foods, supportive relationships, and a bit of nurturing combine to overcome health challenges and disease. Pup came to me as a rescue and shortly after we brought her home, it became apparent that she was sick … as a dog.
Pardon me for saying, but she had a hang dog look about her. She had no appetite. She dragged her tail. Her fur fell out in alarming clumps. Her eyes looked unfocused and rheumy. She managed to act energetic when we played (she was a puppy, after all), but it was apparent that it took a lot out of her. As soon as we were done playing, she’d flop down with a thwump onto the carpet and pant.
I was just overcoming my own health challenges at the time and looked forward to having a healthy dog as my companion. What was I to do with this bedraggled-looking and mutt? She was technically full grown at just under two years old, yet weighed only 6.5 pounds. That’s extremely underweight for a Shetland Sheepdog (a.k.a. a Sheltie).
Because I was already studying topics such as nutrition and detoxification for me, I applied them to my protocols for her care. What did I have to lose? I researched holistic and healthy diets for dogs with autoimmune disease and was surprised at the wealth of information available. Good grief! There were far more healthy resources regarding dogs with autoimmune issues than for humans.
This made no sense to me.
My vet was completely supportive in my journey and encouraged me to implement the protocols that were already working for me. He said that her autoimmune challenges (hair loss, energy deficiencies, digestive disorders, etc.) could be positively managed through diet.
Once I started incorporating natural, whole, and healthy foods for Pup, she perked up. Her appetite improved immediately and within just a few months, her fur began to grow back.
At follow up visits, my vet was pleased with her progress. He said that it was common knowledge in the veterinary world that foods are a critical factor in (either healing or hurting) autoimmune illnesses in dogs.
So, why was it such a mystery in the human world?
I found this line of treatment quite fascinating since I’d already observed great improvements in my own nutritional health experiments.
Have you ever said that you feel as sick as a dog?
I certainly have. Years before (when my digestive difficulties were at their worst), I couldn’t function at home or at work. I didn’t know which was worse, the whole body pain or the inability to digest and process my foods. Nothing functioned as it should.
Back then, we had a different dog. She was also a Sheltie and also a rescue. But this one came to us significantly overweight. So much so, that when we brought her home from the shelter, she came with adoption papers and a print out of a very strict diet.
She was less than thrilled.
She ate measured portions of healthy, whole, and natural ingredients that contained fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. In my nutritional ignorance, I didn’t understand why this was important.
I joked at the time that if I ate like she did, I’d be the healthiest person on the planet. While I thought it was funny, I really didn’t grasp the truth of that statement.
Through her eating plan, we were able to significantly reduce her weight. More importantly, she became physically fit — able to move, run, jump, and play.
I’ve learned a lot since then. From observing the health of my dogs and my friend’s pets, I’ve discovered a few things about what can keep a pet healthy. Some of the factors are innately canine, others are driven by their status as pampered pets. But they all have something to teach us.
The following, in descending order, are the top 5 reasons why your dog may be healthier than you are. Of course, these may apply to other pets as well, but your canine companions provide the clearest examples.
Top 5 Reasons Why Your Dog
May Be Healthier Than You Are
5. He’s Licensed
James Bond may seek out a License to Kill, but Fido just needs a license to stay (in your home). In the Disney movie, Lady and the Tramp, obtaining a dog license was the ultimate symbol of belonging to a family.
Your pet may stay healthier than you because of licensing requirements. Fido has to have certain things in order before the license can be renewed.
Do you make time for regular annual checkups? Your pet’s license requires consistent visits to the vet. Protocols must be followed and items checked off the list.
No exceptions. No visit – no license.
Discovering health risks early on can make a big difference in preventative and timely disease management — both for Fido and you.
4) She’s Instinctively Tuned In
Bella uses her natural instincts to keep an even body temperature. She’ll pant, look for shade, and find someplace cool to lounge if it gets too warm. Or, if it’s chilly, she’ll find a warm sun puddle to curl up in and snooze.
She may beg for food even when not truly hungry (very human-like in this regard), but likely would stop eating before making herself overly sick. Keep in mind that for dogs, begging for food can be triggered by the mere sight of it (i.e. seeing you eat).
She’s also instinctive about what she won’t eat or won’t go near. She may have an instinctual “nose” for toxins in foods and other smelly substances in her environment.
People have instincts, too. We know what it’s like to feel full, to sense unhealthy substances, and to over-exert ourselves in high-heat temperatures. But unlike our furry friends, we’re more likely to be influenced by other factors to ignore or override our instinctual tendencies.
Do you override your natural inclinations, thereby acting in unhealthy ways?
3) He Uses Healthy Body Mechanics
Have you ever noticed that Rex often stretches when he gets up from a nap? Some dogs practice elaborate moves with their hind legs; extending, shaking, flexing, etc. Have you noticed that this behavior is usually followed by a wide-mouthed yawn? Deep breathing and oxygenation is good for the body, too.
Rex may lie on the floor and elongate his body as he scratches his back on the carpet in delight. It feels sooo good to stretch! He wards off stiffness by engaging muscles and tendons in a gentle way after sleep or lying in static positions.
Some dogs do this more than others. Probably the most well-known stretching pose for dogs looks very yoga-like. It’s referred to as Downward Dog, after all.
2) She Balances Her Energy
Your girl Molly can make a game of just about any activity – especially as a puppy. Going to the mailbox can be an adventure that includes races around the front yard trees, patio furniture, and especially your feet.
Healthy dogs love to expend energy by jumping, wriggling, twirling, and springing into the air. Unlike humans, they usually have no fear of looking silly.
Here’s the important part to observe.
Unlike humans, they know how to switch gears. Dogs intuitively practice an “energy 180.” They may race around the house like their tails are on fire one minute, and then collapse into a drooling deep sleep the next. They’re ON or they’re OFF.
They understand the need for balance.
Humans understand the go-go-go part of this energy game, but often lack the equal and opposite force of balance. We’re not so great at the utter relaxation part of the equation.
It may feel awkward at first, but intentional relaxation activities actually help your body to heal and regenerate. Relaxation helps the body to build up its stores of energy for later use. That’s a good thing.
And, the number one reason why your dog may be healthier than you?
1. He Has an Owner
Buddy may be friendly, smart, and loyal, but he doesn’t always act in his own best interests. He becomes a contortionist to get that cone off of his head to bite his newly stitched foot. He drinks from the toilet, rolls in unsavory substances, and rarely looks before he leaps.
That’s what his human is for.
Buddy is also likely to be healthy because his human feeds him the best quality food that he can afford – and in the right measurements. As mentioned in item #4, dogs may stop eating before they actually get sick, but that doesn’t mean they stop before they overeat.
Having a human to monitor and measure their food is probably one of most profound ways that your dog stays healthy. They simply don’t have any other choice.
Would you be healthier if you had an owner? Possibly.
I’ve had this conversation with clients before. They’ve said, I wish you’d just come to my house, make my meals, and then I’d know exactly what to eat and how much.
But, we’re human.
It wouldn’t work because that’s not a sustainable model. Humans know that there are choices and options. Sooner or later, we may be tempted to bite the hand that feeds us.
Instead, when we invest the time to discover what foods support us nutritionally, and we choose to make it a priority to adopt healthier habits, we can ramp up our overall health quotient.
Beware, by the way, of the “perfection” trap. When it comes to diet and nutrition, there is no perfect. Doing the best you can most of the time, trumps attempting perfection every time.
So, what can our pets teach us about our health?
We can be our own “masters” and invest in the proper care, feeding, and safety for our health.
- We can pay attention to the energy imbalances of our lives. Where do we expend our energies? Do we make the time to practice relaxation activities, too?
- We can learn to use proper body mechanics and gently rotate, stretch, roll, and extend our joints, muscles, and limbs. We can practice deep breathing exercises that pair beautifully with gentle movement such as yoga and tai chi.
- We can pay attention to our body’s natural reactions to foods, chemical exposures, our environment, and more. We can pay attention to our physical nutritional needs and determine whether we feel full or whether we feel like eating for any other reason.
- We can devise our own annual self-care checkup plan. Rotate the needed practitioners that might be overlooked including ones who can provide dental exams, thermography, and skin cancer screenings.
Are you ready to learn a thing or two from your pup? You’ll both benefit as a result of this healthy relationship!
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