Common Health Problems affecting Dogs and Cats

Veterinary advice from John Burns BVMS MRCVS

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Principles of Natural Health Care

1) Good health is the normal state.
2) The body will tend towards a state of good health.
3) Healing will take place if it is possible.
4) Acute illness is a sign that the body is trying to heal itself
5) Chronic illness is the result of failure or suppression of the healing process.

This philosophy is positive and optimistic and believes that our health is in our own hands. This contrasts with the view of conventional medicine which expects problems to develop; that illnesses are random and indiscriminate; and that we have little control over our health. However, Natural Health Care does require us to accept the responsibility for health and wellbeing. The key to achieving good health is a simple one when these Principles are applied: if we can put in place the correct conditions the body will do the rest. Here the "correct conditions" mean correct lifestyle of which correct diet is the most important and also the one which is the easiest to control. This is the essence of Holistic Medicine.

What makes a correct diet?

Everyone would agree that a balanced diet is important. But what does "balanced" mean? The common view is that a diet is balanced if the food contains sufficient quantity of the various nutrients - proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and water to meet the needs of the body for maintenance, growth, reproduction and exercise. This definition fails to take account of several important factors:What if the food has excessive nutrients e.g. too much protein or fat? Is the body able to utilise the nutrients in the food: i.e. is the food easily digested? Does the food contain substances which are not nutrients e.g. chemical additives, impurities? Does the food suit the animal's system? Many dogs develop intolerance to certain foods. Is the body able to eliminate the waste matter effectively?

Our definition of a balanced diet is that what goes in equals what comes out! This means that over a period of time the body will maintain a good state of health and normal function and that all wastes will be efficiently eliminated.

In practice, many domestic pets do not have a balanced diet. In most instances,

Excess intake can result from
1) overfeeding
2) incorrect proportions of nutrients, for example too much protein or fat inclusion in the diet of non-nutrients e.g. colourings, chemicals

Decreased output can result from
1) insufficient exercise;
2) a warm environment reduces the amount of energy (heat) needed to maintain body temperature
3) the organs of elimination (kidneys, intestines, skin, liver and gall bladder) may become less efficient as they become clogged.



Common pet health problems
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