Detox: Though the word actually means something good, it always has some negative touch to it. When humans go through detoxification, they usually are at the end of a bad habit, like any dependency of drugs, alcohol or nicotine and have started a new life free of the bad stuff. This new start and the experience the body has to go through during the period starting right at the beginning of a life without having any of these poisons supplied anymore is called detoxification. Ok, you may say, my dog doesn’t get high, does not smoke nor does he addicted to alcohol. So what does the term have to do with animals and what does it mean when we say our pet is going through detoxification? The term is usually applied when one changes the feeding habits for a domesticated cat or dog.
The majority of pets in this fast paced world of convenience items is being fed some type and kind of commercially mass produced and marketed diet, either canned or dry food. In addition this is usually the case for a long time in the pet’s life span. As we all know by now, such commercially manufactured foods are filled with additives, sugars, preservatives, dangerous chemicals and all kinds of other garbage, all not so healthy for the animal. Additionally, many pets due to this kind of dietary regiment become victims to illness and disease. Now, under veterinary supervision they are being treated with all kinds of medications, antibiotics, etc..
Then, after reading this and many other blogs, after countless hours of research on the Internet, after talking to numerous fellow pet owners, pet owning family members and friend, one day we all come to realization that this misery has to stop. And we decide to start a new life for the animal. A healthy life in a world of all natural, fresh and wholesome nutrition.
But then, how disappointing, by doing so, during the transition and at the very beginning of this new feeding style we notice that our pet gets sick. Now what did we do wrong? What is causing the problem?
The fact that the animal gets sick is actually quite normal. Every pet reacts to a new diet in a different way depending on age, health, and how long they were given commercial unhealthy diets. The symptoms may range from nonexistent, to mild or even severe. Some symptoms possibly to be noticed are: Diarrhea, vomiting, itchy skin, oozing skin, ear infections, eye discharge, anal gland problems, and more. What is going on? Well, these reactions are a reflection of how the animal’s body is getting rid of the toxins accumulated during the previous years of being fed a wrong diet.
Relax. There is no reason to be alarmed if you notice some of these things happening to your pet at first. It is actually a classic example of something that must get worse before it can get better. The body is healing itself from the inside out. Once the detoxifying process is concluded, these symptoms will disappear and you will have a healthier, happier pet. The symptoms should not last more than 2 weeks, provided your pet is relatively disease free at the beginning. Pets with histories of health related problems may experience longer episodes of detox. If the detoxification symptoms should persist or become worse I strongly suggest to see your vet, better yet, get in touch with a holistic vet. By the way, talking things over with your vet is always a good idea. Especially if you are making such a drastic change to your pet’s life. Just be open minded and try to see behind the reasons why your vet may advise you not to make such a change. I’d say that would be especially suspicious if he is trying to talk you into feeding him just the food he so happens to sell at his office. But not all vets are the same, I’d like to think that the majority is less profit driven and really has your pet’s well being at heart, so if yours is one of those, listen carefully what he has to say
Besides nutrition, hygiene during detox is another important issue. Bathe your pet more often than usuall, weekly or even more often if the skin is badly infected. It is a good way to clean the skin and wash the toxins away.
Always keep fresh, pure drinking water available. It helps the flushing process.
Dr. William Pollak, D.V.M of the Fairfield Animal Hospital on his site for "Holistic & traditional approaches to support the best of animal health" brilliantly covers detoxification in his article “Healing Episodes” and says:
“Times like this require more rest and an easier, less stressful style of functioning, for only a few hours, a day or even longer. … the body needs chunks of time during which special cleaning can take place. This occurs from taking care of and improving the daily business of life and improving quality of functioning. What is in fact usually happening is not that disease is rearing its ugly head, but that the body needs quality rest time, to push out some weakness; reorganize and restructure to a level of higher quality.
Telling the difference between times of needed rest that form the basis of greater vitality (healing episodes) from times of further breakdown (advancement of disease) is the basis for maintaining a holistic appreciation throughout the whole process. This is the key for understanding and acting from a holistic perspective. In being aware of the localized and non localized conditions simultaneously we can then proceed with loving certainty what is best to do and not do during these times. Appreciating what is going on and responding clearly and accurately as a result of using this understanding, will alone bring great comfort to all concerned, not only by procuring the best outcome possible, but also being in the best place, as it unfolds. Knowing more fully what is going on, will make it easier for you to choose what is best for you and your pet, whether it's trying to do it at home or going to the veterinarian.
Healing episodes manifest as localized symptoms while your pet is energetically normal or has even more energy than what is accustomed. The temporary symptoms of healing episodes can mimic any disease. The severity and duration of these signs are very moderate and abbreviated, from hours to a day or two. The important point is that life for your pet remains full and happy with clarity and normalcy while these signs are evident.
However, if your pet is not energetic, is dull, not clear in the eyes, not eating for more than 48 hours or appears in any general way to be unwell, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. Your pet is sick and should be looked at by a professional. This change in your pet's system is such that clarity of mental functioning and sensitivity to the environment is severely compromised, and serious enough, that minimum normal functioning is no longer possible. This is a sign of serious instability that often times reflect a profound deficiency in minimal acceptable functioning, something is missing or is in excess beyond the animal's system to rebalance. This can be either a chemical, electrical or structural abnormality. Again this is serious and requires whatever is necessary to help get through the situation. It is during these times that a veterinarian's efforts are most appropriate in helping your pet get over some weakness. Any treatment at this time is most appropriate whether it be natural or chemical.
Healing Episodes in our pets are usually seen in the skin as excessive flaking or a transient return of old sores. Or it can be seen in the coat as hair loss, thinning or just poor, dull looking. Healing episodes can manifest as an unsettled digestive system; seen as soft bowels and or diarrhea, with or without mucous or blood. These transient periods can last hours, a day or two at most. They can simulate any previous disease; oftentimes they do. As long as your pet is bright eyed and bushy tailed with good energy through the day and good appetite, these short periods will go away by themselves, they will pass on their own, and rarely is any medical intervention of any kind necessary. In fact unnecessary intervention can reduce your pet's ability to maximally shed old disease predisposition.
Providing fresh pure water or diluted chicken broth will help you and your pet get through this transient episode most easily. Feeding half rations for a day or two after these episodes will also help bring back health most clearly and uneventfully.
This is higher purification in action, let it unfold most naturally. The newly energized immune system is now more capable of relieving itself of unwanted influences. Certain weaknesses must be shed in this way by the body for its complete elimination. Interference at this time with chemicals or even natural remedies can in fact reduce the likelihood of long term cure. Treatment of the localized condition, and not taking into account the strength of the animal's general well being can cause us to loose sight of the overall (holistic) situation. Failure to notice the strength and vitality of your pet in general will oftentimes result in overmedication for the purpose of relieving ourselves of our own unsubstantiated fears. Even this approach, from a holistic perspective is also OK; if our fear is too uncomfortable to bear without action, then treatment of your pet of any kind is in order, to help us feel better.
Do not fret, but know that with natural approaches to living, your pet will get stronger and more vital. With each passing month on raw foods, regular exercise, fresh air and natural husbandry, the need for medical intervention will go down, and the reassurances of more vibrant living that your pet is showing you will give you the strength to more actively pursue what your intuition is telling you.
Successfully going through a healing episode with our pet is a wonderful experience. It brings reassurance and strength to an emotional functioning that is rarely called upon in a society that is quick to blame others for our trouble, while we frantically look for the silver bullet for all our pain and suffering. Blaming others only delays and exacerbates an uncomfortable situation; our attention from this angle only serves to drive our own dis-ease even deeper.
Seeing health return to our pet quickly and by itself after a healing episode, is an encounter of great blessing and comfort. This art of self heal is an unmistakable reminder of the inner strength and vitality of a biological system working as it was designed to do; not only to maintain itself through daily repairs, but improve in style of functioning with increased life experience.”