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Dear Readers: In the third step of my eight-week health plan for pets, let's address the importance of diet.
Many people feed their pets "premium diets" that in reality aren't as natural and healthy as you may think.
For example, one client asked me to evaluate the label information on her pet's food. The ingredient list contains "beef, high fructose corn syrup, soybean grits, soybean flour, corn syrup, cheese powder" and a variety of artificial colors and preservatives.
It's obvious that except for the beef there's not a lot of healthy food in it. There is a ton of sugar in it (high fructose corn syrup, as well as plain corn syrup) as there is in many snack foods available for people.
Soybean grits and flour byproducts from the milling process are not nearly as healthy as simple soybeans. It's likely that the soybean ingredients (the grits and the flour) are greater by weight or volume than the beef.
This food doesn't provide a nutritional diet for my client's dog, but it does promote a lot of gas.
A vital part of our eight-week plan is for you to feed the proper diet. Anything else we do, such as adding herbs, homeopathics or other supplements, will build upon the diet you choose to feed. Diet is so important that I have seen some diseases improve just by feeding a healthier diet for a few months. No supplement can turn a bad diet into a good one. You want a diet that contains natural ingredients with no byproducts or chemicals and one that supports and promotes health and life.
You are in control of what your pet eats. The best choices you have are to feed a homemade diet that you prepare using fresh (preferably organic) ingredients or one of the few natural holistic commercially prepared diets. Any holistic doctor can provide you with recipes to prepare at home or make suggestions about natural commercial foods.
It's important to slowly change your pet's diet to increase acceptance and decrease gastric upset that causes vomiting or diarrhea. Within a few months of changing from a bad diet to a good one, your pet probably will look and feel healthier.
Next: Choosing supplements to enhance your pet's health.
(Dr. Shawn P. Messonnier, author of the "8 Weeks to a Healthy Dog" and "The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats" is a veterinarian and pet care advocate. Write him at 2145 W. Park Blvd., Plano, TX 75075, or e-mail email@example.com)
(c) 2004, The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.