How to Safely and Happily Travel With Your Pet: Five Steps for an Adventure of a Lifetime!

How to Safely and Happily Travel With Your Pet: Five Steps for an Adventure of a Lifetime!

What’s better than a travel adventure? A travel adventure with your pet, of course! Bringing your pet along on your dream destination (or even a weekend getaway) can spell twice the fun! But it can also spell twice the trouble without proper planning, and in this piece, you’ll learn everything you need to know to travel safely and happily with your pet!

travel with pets, fly with dog, fly with cat

1. Begin by Asking Yourself Three Questions

When making the decision to travel with your pet, you first need to answer three questions:

  1. Where am I going to go?
  2. How am I going to get there, and how long will it take?
  3. What am I going to do there?

These are important questions to answer because they often determine your mode of transport, the time it takes to reach your destination, whether your pet can have a good experience at your destination, what vaccinations you might need while crossing state lines or getting your pet through airport security, and so forth.

Traveling with your pet by plane, for example, is a whole different ball game than traveling with them by car. And there’s a big difference between traveling with your pet for short stretches on a bus, for example, vs. having them in either a car or plane for extended periods.

Not only this, but there’s also a big difference between keeping your pet in your hotel room while you’re, say, at the Magic Kingdom, and taking them hiking with you on a day-long nature adventure.

2. Select Your Tier of Pet Hospitality

Pet hospitality refers to how welcoming your lodging accommodations will be to your pet. If you’re visiting a family member or someone you know well, it’s generally easy to determine this. But it’s important to understand that all “pet-friendly” accommodations are not created equal and come into three different tiers that run from least friendly to most friendly:

 

Pets Accepted 

This is generally shorthand for, “Pet’s will be tolerated, but we’d prefer they weren’t here, and you’ll need to abide by stringent guidelines.” (For instance, crating your pet when you’re not in the room.) 

Pets Welcome

Pets are welcome, and accommodations will gladly be made for them. (Even so, it’s crucial to find out precisely what this means since practices and policies can differ between motels, hotels, and Airbnb hosts.)

Pet Focused

Or “Pet Optimized” — This top-tier offering is exactly what it sounds like. In Pet-Focused or Pet-Optimized accommodations, everything is designed with your pet in mind. It’s not just that your pet is welcome. It’s that your pet (and your needs as a pet-parent) are catered to to ensure you both have the best experience possible.

3. Prepare and Practice

Suppose your pet is new to traveling or isn’t yet well adjusted to traveling. In that case, it’s important to get them prepared for your actual adventure. Different modes of travel require your pet to be prepared for different things — and they need time beforehand to be exposed to them and have some practice with them.

pet travel, dog travelCar Travel

If you plan to travel with your pet in a car, the most essential thing to think about is their safety. Never allow your pet to ride on your lap or to ride with their head out the window. (You’d be surprised at the number of dogs that are injured or killed this way.)

When traveling by car with your pet, they need to be seatbelted into their harness or in a secured crate. Introduce your dog or cat to these travel options very gradually, taking things in steps. First, get your dog or cat used to the seatbelt harness or crate while the car is parked. (Rinse and repeat.) Then, get them used to being in the parked car buckled into the seat. (Rinse and repeat.) Next, take them on a very short drive in their seatbelt harness or crate to see how they do, working up to longer and longer rides. As always, reinforce with affection, praise, and healthy treats.

Air Travel

In principle, everything that applies to getting your dog or cat used to traveling in a car applies to a plane as well, with the only difference being your pet will have no choice about being in a crate. Obviously, you can’t practice getting your pet used to a crate that’s already inside a plane or acclimate them to the experience with short rides. You can, however, get them used to riding in their crate in the car, and this should serve to make the airborne crating experience more positive.

pet travel, flying with dog, fly with catFlying with your pet commercially — regardless of whether they’re small enough to travel in-cabin with you or large enough that they’ll have to ride in the cargo bay — comes with a host of strict regulations and conditions. These can be extensive, and you’ll need to do due diligence. If your pet can’t travel in the cabin with you, you’ll need to look into whether your pet will be transported in a temperature controlled environment, whether they’ll be checked on, and so forth.

If you want to get around restrictions and have maximum transparency into your pet’s care and travel conditions (and pay significantly extra for doing so), you can look into pet-optimized air-travel companies like PetJets.com or AirAnimal.com.

Bus or Train

If you’re traveling by bus or commuter train, the key to acclimating your pet is simply a matter of taking lots of practice runs for longer and longer periods. But because the conditions on a bus or train can be far more variable than those of a car or plane, you’ll need to ensure your dog is well-socialized and can feel at ease around other people and other animals.

 

4. Have an Arsenal of Stress Busters on Hand

For all the preparation and practice you give your pet, some may still feel anxious about travel. The first idea that will occur to many pet parents when traveling with an anxious pet is to sedate them. At Holistic Actions, we generally advise against this practice, though in some cases it may be necessary and you will need to use the HMDM (Holistic Medical Decision-Making) protocol to determine your exact course of action and after-care.

In many cases, anxious pets — provided they are well prepared for travel — can be significantly soothed with what we like to think of as natural “stress busters.” Though different pets respond differently to different stress busters, here are some of our favorites.

  • Snuffle/Activity Mats
  • Flower Essences
  • CBD oil and other related products
  • Melatonin
  • Nobileton
  • Reiki / T-Touch
  • Anti-Anxiety Wraps

travel with pets, flying with cat, pet hotels

 

5. Gather the Essentials

You’re getting so close to your travel date, and it’s time to get everything together for your big adventure! Here are the most essential items to gather together!

  • Food and water. For any trip more than several hours long, this should go without saying. If you’ll be with your pet on the road for long stretches, they’ll enjoy a healthy snack or two as much as you do.
  • Health/Rabies certificates. Though it’s pretty rare when crossing state lines to be asked for a Rabies certificate, you’ll want to have this just in case. If your pet will be traveling by air, be sure to check exactly which vaccinations might be required to receive clearance.
  • Parasite Control. Ensure your pet is free of parasites before travel. Not only are these parasites harmful to your pet, but you also don’t want ticks and fleas and other pests to end up in your car, in a plane, or anywhere else your pet may be.
  • Comfort objects from home (favorite toys or blankets, pacifiers, etc.) Give your pet a piece of home to take with them on their travels. The familiar shapes, textures, and smells of their favorite things will help them feel more at home, wherever they are.
  • Back-up collars, leashes, and tags. These things can too often be lost or misplaced or simply left behind on your travels. Having back-ups on hand means that if something goes missing, you can instantly solve the problem. You also minimize the time and risk of your pet not wearing identifying information or being off-leash in unsafe areas.

And there you have it! Everything you need for a safe, happy travel adventure with your furry friend! Good luck, godspeed, and happy “tails”!

Dreaming of Adopting a Dog? Push “Paws” Till You’ve Considered These Five Crucial Questions

Dreaming of Adopting a Dog? Push “Paws” Till You’ve Considered These Five Crucial Questions

Aw, doggies. They tug at your heartstrings. Sometimes all you have to do is see a puppy in the park or an adoption ad from your local animal shelter to make you feel sure that you simply must get a dog of your own! But not so fast, speed racer! Adopting a dog is a huge deal — a way bigger deal than you might have been led to believe. This article will explain why, and help you ask some of the most important questions you need to consider before bringing home an adorable doggie of your own. Ready to get started? Let’s go!

dog rescue, adopt a dog

1. How am I doing?

How are you doing? While this seems like a simple enough question, and one which people are likely to ask us every day, we’ve been socially conditioned to answer “fine,” even when things are not so fine.

So, let’s try this again. How are you really doing? How are you feeling these days, on the inside? Do you have family and friends that you feel actively supported by? Do you have people in your life that really have your back? If you’re struggling, how kind and compassionate are you able to be with yourself vs. criticizing or blaming yourself?

The reason it’s important to ask these questions is that dogs require exceptional levels of emotional energy and investment, patience, and understanding, especially when they’re transitioning to a new environment. When they’re being acclimated to their new home and house rules, it’s imperative that you train them with positive reinforcement rather than punishment.

If you’re not at a place in your life where you’re either emotionally well-resourced or are not yet able to be kind and compassionate with yourself, you may want to work on getting yourself to a better place before you adopt a dog.

But wait, you might be thinking, many people who aren’t really doing okay adopt dogs for this very reason. I was hoping that by adopting a dog, things might actually get better for me. And even though I’m struggling, I know in my heart that I can be a good, responsible pet parent.

If anything like this is going through your head, good for you. There are exceptions to every rule. You don’t necessarily have to be the picture of mental health to be an amazing pet parent, but you do need to be really, really honest with yourself about your ability to meet your pet’s emotional, social, and physical needs. And as the rest of this article will show, in addition to how you’re doing personally, there are other equally important questions to be considered before making the Big Decision.

 

2. Am I making an informed decision about breed, and can I accept and embrace my dog for who they are?adopt a dog, dog breeds

One of the worst things that we human beings can experience is not being accepted for who we are. When somebody tries to change who we are to suit their tastes, it can run the gamut from annoying to devastating.

When you adopt or rescue a dog, it’s helpful to identify their breed or mix since this sheds light on their temperament and behavioral tendencies. When it comes to breed, you never want to try to “train the dog out of the dog.” For example, no matter what you do, virtually all Border Collies will want to herd things and be given a job.

Breeds are to dogs what different “personality types” or are to people. For example, in the Myers Briggs Personality Types, you might be an Advocate, a Commander, a Mediator, an Adventure, or any one of the 16 different types. This doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot of flexibility within a human personality type or dog breed, but it does mean there are strong tendencies that need to be honored, championed, and worked with rather than against.

Just like different human personality types, different dog breeds have different strengths and weaknesses. When you identify the breed/mix of your dog, you have additional insight into their temperament and abilities and what you can reasonably expect of them. Just as with a human partner, when you can accept and celebrate your dog for who they are — in both their breed tendencies and unique individuality — you’ll have a much healthier and happier experience together!

 

3. How much free time do I have for holistic pet education and recreation?

Let’s talk education and recreation. Though they seem to be the opposite, they have everything to do with each other when it comes to adopting a dog. Let’s take the education part first.

There is a lot of misinformation about the best ways to feed and care for your dog. Certain routine practices — especially when it comes to feeding your pet — can decrease the vitality and balance of your pet’s system. (And when vitality and balance are compromised, your pet is much more vulnerable to developing allergies, has lower immune resilience, and increased chronic health conditions, and all forms of dis-ease that disrupt their lives and wellbeing.

adopt dog, dog rescue, holistic actions, should I get a dog

The Holistic Actions! website exists to provide comprehensive education about ways to feed, train, treat, and care for your pet to give them the happiest, healthiest, and longest life possible. The principles behind holistic petcare aren’t difficult to understand and can be incredibly gratifying and even enjoyable to learn about. But because the approaches of holistic petcare run counter to much of conventional (reductionistic) thinking, it does require an open mind and the willingness to become educated. (As a side note, educating yourself about canine nutrition and learning to feed your dog a fresh diet that you prepare for them at home — is the number one thing you can do for protecting, improving, and sustaining their health.)

Now that we’ve covered the education part, let’s turn to recreation. Dogs of all ages need opportunities for outdoor exercise and enrichment activities to ensure healthy emotional, social, and physical development. This may be a vigorous game of fetch or a leisurely sniff walk.

Fresh air and sunlight promote cellular vitality, and regular “sniff walks” allow your dog to explore the hundreds of different scents they encounter. A considerable amount of the canine brain is devoted to their sense of smell. Even though we can’t appreciate the complexity of what they are sensing with their fabulous noses, we know that stimulation of these olfactory centers contributes significantly to canine development and overall wellbeing.

To sum up, for dogs to be truly healthy and happy, they need high levels of active engagement from you and lots of exercise. So the question here is twofold. First, do you have sufficient free time to spend with your dog to ensure they’re getting adequate social contact? Second, are you willing to ensure your dog gets outside at least twice every day for fresh air, sniffing and exercise?

 

4. Are you prepared for courtship?

There’s a reason that human beings go through a relatively lengthy dating phase of their relationship before deciding to get married. Before saying “I do” and making a lifetime commitment to adopting or rescuing a dog, it’s a good idea to have a period of courtship through short-term hosting or fostering. This gives you a chance to see how you do together before getting intensely emotionally involved. It’s especially advisable if there are other pets in the household to consider.

Once you’ve made your decision, preparation is a necessity. Even if you adopt or rescue an older dog, they still need to navigate a huge transition to a new home and will take some time to get their mental and emotional bearings. Imagine you went to live with a new family and were expected to be almost instantly “adjusted.” Humans need time to settle into a new groove, and the same is true for dogs.

No matter the dog’s age you adopt or rescue, they need time to adjust, much as a new puppy does. The first 2-3 months “define” the relationship status and “pack order” in the dog’s mind. With your leadership and guidance, along with good management, they will start to understand how this new home works, and you’ll begin to see their true personality shine.

dog rescue, adopt a dog, holistic actions

5. Can I afford it?

The cost of adopting and caring for a dog is estimated to range anywhere from a rock-bottom $650 for the tiniest dogs to $2,115 a year for the largest. (And by the way, that’s without things like basic medical care, emergency vet visits, pet training support, pet grooming, pet-sitting costs, and pet luxuries that many pet parents actually view as necessities.)

The majority of pet parents don’t have a budget, and it’s important to take stock of whether you have the financial resources to support the everyday care needs of your dogs. If your answer is yes, there’s actually a second question that’s just as important to ask. That question is whether you have the resources to deal with unexpected and potentially costly medical care. (It’s easy — especially when getting a puppy — to assume you’re years away from needing significant medical care. While this is a reasonably safe bet — provided you’re feeding your puppy a fresh food diet that you prepare at home and they’re getting plenty of fresh air and exercise — it’s also not a gamble you should be too quick to make.)

Trust that you and the dog will fatefully find your way together, in just the right time, and in just the right way.

Now that we’ve come to the end of this article, maybe you have an even better understanding of why adopting a dog is such a big deal. If you can answer yes to all five questions, it’s probably the perfect time to adopt or rescue a dog. If you can’t answer yes to these questions, that’s okay. Be confident in your ability to slowly but surely get yourself to the place you want to be. Trust that you and the dog will fatefully find your way together, in just the right time, and in just the right way. Maybe your dog is already out there waiting for you to be ready, or maybe they’re not even born yet. Whatever the case, if you move forward with faith in yourself and faith in the future, it will be only a matter of time before you and the doggie of your dreams are at last united!

3 Simple Tips to Help Your Hypothyroid Dog

3 Simple Tips to Help Your Hypothyroid Dog

The Problem

Beau walked slowly into my office a few months ago and he obviously had a problem. A BIG problem. He was so obese that he looked like an engorged tick with a little head and legs sticking out from a huge body. He had no hair. He could barely get up after lying down.

Beau’s energy level and willingness to go for walks had been decreasing for a few months. At the same time, he was sleeping more and it was often difficult to rouse him from sleep. He was no longer greeting his family members when they came home from work.

He was also gradually losing hair from both sides of his body. It was just falling out. He wasn’t itchy, and didn’t have any skin abnormalities like hot spots.

Beau’s concerned guardians had taken him to their local veterinarian for an exam and blood tests. Aside from his obesity and alopecia (missing hair) everything checked out OK physically. The vet suspected that an underactive thyroid was causing a decreased metabolism, along with all of his signs and symptoms. 

Blood tests confirmed barely detectable thyroid hormone levels. It also showed that he had a mild anemia and elevated cholesterol, which are also commonly seen in hypothyroidism.

The vet prescribed vitamins and a prescription weight reduction diet. 

Lifelong Drugs?

During their follow-up appointment, Beau’s vet rechecked him and reported the results. Despite the vitamins and prescription weight reduction diet that he had prescribed, Beau had not lost a single pound or regrown any hair. Only one option was offered for the resolution of Beau’s hypothyroidism. Daily synthetic thyroid hormone.

These should help Beau’s clinical problems but would not solve the problem. These artificial hormones would therefore have to be continued throughout his life.

Lucky for him, Beau’s guardians were holistically minded and did not like the idea of giving drugs every day. They consulted with the seemingly omniscient “Dr. Google” and found that indeed there were other options for is treatment. Despite what they had been told by their family vet.

The Solution

The following 3 simple lifestyle and medical modifications allowed full resolution of Beau’s clinical symptoms with no need for synthetic drugs. His weight is back to normal, his coat has fully regrown, and he has regained his zest for life.

hypothyroid dog, holistic pet careHERE IS HOW:

  1. Constitutional homeopathic treatment. “Constitutional” means it’s unique to each individual and is selected based on lifelong symptoms and characteristics. This treatment addresses all of the imbalances in his body, not just the low thyroid hormone.
  2. Fresh food with no processed, carbohydrate-laden dry or canned food. This means primarily raw (or cooked) meats and some steamed vegetables fed in moderation and variety.
  3. Supplementation with thyroid glandulars, trace minerals, soluble Coenzyme Q10, etc.

All of Beau’s physical problems resolved and his blood test abnormalities continue to improve. Biochemical changes often lag behind the outwardly observable improvement. Successful homeopathic and holistic treatment can normalize the blood values as well. 

Lifelong daily thyroid hormones can be avoided with homeopathic treatment. Even better is the resultant higher level of health and happiness that our devoted and beloved companions deserve.

Holistic Actions! is here to help you interpret your pet’s symptoms and use them as a guide for taking effective holistic actions — actions that don’t just cover up or quiet down your pet’s symptoms, but that create new levels of inner balance and vitality to give them the happy, healthy life that every dog and cat deserve!

Thank you for visiting us here at Holistic Actions! We wish you the best of luck on your holistic pet care journey! 

Be well.

Dr. Jeff 

Your Cat’s Urinary Problems Are NOT Inevitable

Your Cat’s Urinary Problems Are NOT Inevitable

Simba’s Urinary Problems

In June 2001, Simba was licking his rear end and visiting the litter box frequently. He ran urgently to the box every few minutes for an hour in the middle of the night. He’d try to urinate, but only a few drops would pass. Sometimes nothing at all. He’d even occasionally yowl as if he was in pain while he was trying to urinate.

That night his guardian found drops of urine on the floor near the box. Some of these were pink and seemed to contain blood. Simba seemed fine otherwise and ate a good breakfast the next morning. Nevertheless,  he was stuffed in a little cat carrier and whisked away to his regular vet later that day.

Simba’s exam was normal, and the vet advised a urinalysis to check for a urinary problem. A few drops of pink cloudy urine were on the stainless steel exam table. The small sample was thick and showed microscopic crystals and blood.

No urine culture was done and no bacteria were seen, but the vet diagnosed a bladder “infection” and dispensed antibiotics. These were given and the urinary problem quickly resolved. Simba seemed fine for a while. A few months later, the same problem returned.


Recurrence Is Common

This is an all-too-common scenario. Urinary problems in cats are a huge clinical and household management problem. Here, we’re going to show how a vitality, balance, and homeopathic approach allowed Simba’s guardian to better understand Simba’s health challenge and how to help him.

Simba continued to have similar recurrent urinary symptoms, especially in the fall, which is a common time to see feline urinary symptoms. This observation is typically left unexplained in conventional veterinary medicine, but vet homeopaths understand that this is a modality: an expression of Simba’s individuality, including his circadian rhythms and internal clock.

In the fall of the following year, he became unable to urinate. He would cry and strain unproductively in the box. His guardian thought he might be constipated but wisely went right to her vet.

Simba was unable to urinate. His urinary obstruction had caused toxins to back up in his blood. Fortunately, a urinary catheter immediately enabled him to urinate and intravenous fluids flushed his blood clean of uremic (from the kidney) poisons.

Simba went home and was doing great. Then one day just a few months later he started to strain again. Another emergency vet visit revealed a blockage again. This time, though, it was difficult to pass a urinary catheter. The local vet advised surgery and referred him to a surgical specialist for a perineal urethrostomy (removal of the narrowest part of the urethra by amputating the penis).

His mom wanted to avoid surgery if at all possible. Here is where homeopathic and holistic care helped avoid surgery and promoted deep healing to prevent future urinary issues. Read more about Simba’s healing below, and first learn more about urinary dis-ease.

cystitis, cat urinary, holistic pet care

Enter Pandora

Recently, a lecture by an eminent veterinary urologist introduced me to Pandora Syndrome (PS). He had helped coin this term, using it to describe a syndrome that included all of Simba’s symptoms which had previously been classified as Feline Urinary Syndrome (FUS), Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), etc.

Diagnosis, pathogenesis, and the physiologic changes seen in PS were discussed. Many of the earlier theories about cause were mentioned but discarded. Dietary ash, fish, magnesium, etc. were likely not important triggers. Wonderfully, this purely conventional veterinary scientist spent the majority of his allotted time making holistic lifestyle recommendations. Simple modifications such as enriching the environment were found to be helpful when managing PS.

Risk Factors for Pandora Syndrome

Simba’s urinary symptoms began in the summer, however, fall and the onset of cooler weather is associated with increased cases. Indoor and overweight cats are at a higher risk for PS. So are those in multiple cat households.

Simba had many of the typical PS signs. He was also a big boy. Some might say “big-boned” even. It’s a standard vet practice to initially prescribe antibiotics when these symptoms are seen. Unlike dogs, however, bacterial infections are rarely implicated in feline UTIs.

Antibiotics Are (But Should Not Be) the First Treatment for Feline Urinary Problems

In many cats, PS symptoms resolve with a special diet, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, urethral dilators, and anti-anxiety medications. However, symptoms often return or never fully resolve. In these cases, most vets will then switch prescription diets and add other drugs. Some conventional vets may also recommend lifestyle changes.

This is a great conventional vet article summary by one of those that coined the name PS.

Holistic and Homeopathic Help To Close Pandora’s Box

  1. Ideal nutrition
  2. Weight loss
  3. Promoting happiness
  4. LItter box
  5. Mental stimulation

Many cats with urinary symptoms and diagnosis of FUS, FLUTD, FIC, PS, etc. can be helped by homeopathic and holistic treatment.

Preventing urinary problems before they start is the most effective way to address all of these.

“It Burns, It Burns…”

Cats are desert dwellers and evolved to be able to conserve fluids. One of their adaptations includes the ability to concentrate urine by allowing maximal water reabsorption of urine. Cat urine can therefore get very concentrated and irritating to the bladder wall.

The longer urine accumulates in the bladder, the greater the chance for urinary symptoms classified as cystitis.

Helping your cat maintain dilute urine can be critical when trying to prevent bladder irritations.

Not feeding dry food is the most important thing that you can do.

Evolutionarily many cats are not wired to have much urge to drink. Just changing from a primarily dry to a wet-based diet is essential. The best is to incorporate a fresh food and meat-based diet. 

Some like Simba even allow extra liquids mixed in with the food or syringed in the mouth.

Obesity

Feeding a fresh food diet is the best way to help them lose weight, which can be a key step to preventing urinary tract problems.

Weight loss and changing to a wet and fresh food diet will help most cats with urinary symptoms.

HAPPINESS – It’s A Cat’s Life?

Your cat’s life might seem perfect to you, but unhappiness may be subtle and could be a trigger for urinary symptoms. Is your cat happy? Urinating outside the box and spraying are among the most common complaints that bring clients to the vet, which are symptoms of urinary dis-ease.

In my experience, the three most common causes for kitty urinary symptoms from unhappiness are:

  1. Litter box problems 
  2. Overpopulation (too many cats in a small space)
  3. Boredom

Like their namesake, Pandora kitties can be overly emotional. Addressing all of these potential problems is critical when holistically treating PS.

Resolving Litter Box Problems

urinary problems, cystitis, cat urinary, litter box, holistic pet careDo everything possible to prevent avoidance of the litterbox. Some cats develop urinary symptoms and PS strictly because they are “stressed” about some aspect of using the litter box. Do your best to maintain an immaculate litter box. Ideally, scoop the box after every use. Empty and wash the box and refill it with brand new litter every week or two.

You may need to try different litter types (clay vs. sand etc.) in addition to maintaining good litter cleanliness. Use an unscented litter as what smells pleasant to us is often aversive to your cat. There’s a good study that shows spraying Zero Odor in the box after cleaning increases litter box use.

Vet behaviorists that commonly treat PS cats have a rule of thumb. The rule is to always have one litter box more than the number of cats in your household.  2 cats=3 boxes. If you live in a small space, it can be difficult to have multiple cats, especially if one has urinary symptoms and needs an extra litter box but you have no place to put it. In this case, it’s very possible that your cat’s urinary symptoms are (at least partially) due to feline overcrowding.

Litter boxes should be in quiet spots in your house with easy access by your cat. It’s no surprise if your cat pees on the carpet because the door to the basement was closed. Areas, where there could be loud and sudden noises, can also be a problem. Move your boxes away from the washer and dryer, furnace, actively used toilets, etc.

Some multi-cat households contain bully cats. These can often be seen preventing litter box access to other cats. Be on the lookout and gently intervene if you see this.

Too Crowded?

Cats are not naturally pack animals, even though they may have kitty friends. One solution for multi-cat households is to create multiple levels and hang-out areas ( even cardboard boxes) in your home so that each cat or group of cats can avoid feeling crowded. “Catios” are an excellent way to expand the space available to improve happiness. 

Is Boredom Causing Unhappiness?

Some years ago, the vet urinary researchers at OSU observed an association between environmental factors and urinary symptoms. Besides the litter box and inter-cat problems, they found that some smart cats were having recurrent urinary signs because of boredom.

Many cats are really smart. So smart that we need to be very creative to discover ways to interact with them. 

Teaching them kitty agility and how to do hi-fives, playing fetch, taking them out for walks on a harness, singing along with you, and more. See below for a link to an hour-long video with other fun ideas. 

Like people and dogs, each cat is unique, so seek the stimulation that each individual cat loves. Some cats even seem to love being read aloud to.

The indoor pet initiative also has many ways to improve your cat’s environment. Be sure to work both his brain and body to help prevent pet problems associated with lifestyle issues like PS.

Also, it is best not to reprimand your cat when it comes to inappropriate urination. Promote the positive and ignore the negative. Any interaction with your cat should be a good interaction.

What About Simba?

Simba was already on a great, varied, commercial raw diet. However, his urine was still concentrated. There were no other problematic environmental factors. Simba would not eat his food when extra water or chicken broth was added.  Fortunately, he would accept extra fluids given by syringe. These kept his urine optimally diluted.

Internal medicinal homeopathic treatment was initiated. Simba’s urinary symptoms resolved and eventually, transient mild skin symptoms developed. At the same time his energy, mood, and overall vitality improved. He never needed surgery and never had other urinary symptoms or blockage, and his chronic skin symptoms “coincidentally” resolved.

Join Our Community

Holistic Actions! is here to help you interpret your pet’s symptoms and use them as a trustable guide for taking effective holistic actions — actions that don’t just cover up or quiet down your pet’s symptoms. Learn about actions that create new levels of inner balance and vitality to give them the happy, healthy life that every dog and cat deserves!

If you’d like professional, personalized, one-to-one guidance for creating a customized health and wellness plan for your pet, as well as access to an interactive, super supportive community of people who are interested in learning more about holistic pet care, think about joining our All-Access membership tier! 

Thank you for visiting us here at Holistic Actions! We wish you the best of luck on your holistic pet care journey! 

 

Gratefully,

Dr. Jeff 

 

Putting the Individual Front and Center: Four Pillars of Practice for People and Pets Alike

Putting the Individual Front and Center: Four Pillars of Practice for People and Pets Alike

Ever been good friends with a pair of identical twins? If so, you know that one of the most frustrating things for them as children is the assumption that they are alike simply because they share the same genes.

This blindness to individuality is not just something twins face. It’s also something that almost every single person or animal faces when seeking conventional medical or veterinary care. The ascendance of both germ and gene theory — the view that pathogens or genes “cause” dis-ease —  has turned much of healthcare into a reductive “one size fits all” affair.

individuality, healthy pets, holistic pet care

The individual is nowhere to be found in this “paint by number” approach to health and healing. Since a disease oriented approach to treatment fails to recognize and factor the vast individual differences in susceptibility that occur even in genetically identical populations, dis-ease is much more likely to be created in the process of attempting to cure it.

The reams of research on iatrogenic illness — illness that is caused by medical treatment — testify to the need for a radical paradigm shift that puts individuality front and center. Here are the four “pillars of practice” our veterinary team at Holistic Actions! rely on to keep individuality at the center of everything we do.

 

1. A NEW CONTEXT – the Individual

Treating each individual’s unique needs rather than treating dis-ease categories requires key insights drawn from the sciences of complexity. Living beings (humans and animals) are complex, self-organized systems. This means that individuals, like health and dis-ease are complex and are a dynamic expression of many differentially weighted yet intrinsically related variables.

In a healthy system, all these variables work together to preserve homeostasis of the whole system, allowing the person or animal to stably maintain its vitality and balance, and therefore to successfully defend against dis-ease. It’s only when this homeostasis begins to be lost that susceptibility to “genes and germs” sets in, making these variables just one piece of a much bigger, more complex puzzle.

 

2. A NEW MODEL – symptoms as clues

For too long, we have been conditioned to view symptoms as an enemy to be medically defeated. But symptoms are not our enemy but our ally. Knowing how to use all your pet’s unique symptoms as valuable clues for addressing specific imbalances is a critical part of the practice of truly “precision” medicine.

At Holistic Actions!, we teach pet guardians (who know their pets best) to track symptoms across the BEAM model, which stands for Behavior, Energy, Appetite, and Mood. We help them interpret these symptoms to guide individualized holistic treatment actions, closely tracking changes in them to help gauge and guide subsequent treatment.

 

3. A NEW METRIC – the exposome

Every pet, like every living being, has their own individual symptoms at different times. One stressor, like a virus, toxin, emotional stress, etc. can trigger 3 different responses in three different individuals. Scientists have created a new more holistic paradigm that quantitates internal biochemical responses by the body to stressors. The HA! interpretation of the exposome is that it may be a research-based modern paradigm for understanding your pet’s molecular susceptibility and individuality. We see the exposome as a molecular measure that can be used to reflect risk and the need that a person or animal will need highly individualized support to regain their vitality and balance.

The exposome provides robust metrics for assessing a person’s or animal’s adverse environmental influences (AEIs), or the number and severity of negative impacts they have experienced throughout their lifespan (and before birth). It factors in variables that include exposure to toxins, foods, emotional and other environmental factors like a history of abuse or neglect. AEIs increase the risks for dis-eases  that all start at the cellular level. Holistic actions like playing, purring/sniffing (like pranayama) and petting have been clinically shown to improve quality of life and happiness for pets. The basis of the Happiness Protocol is individuality and the exposome.

 

4. A NEW GOAL – vitality & balance

Because the absence of dis-ease is not the same thing as radiant health, our team at Holistic Actions! are never content to simply alleviate symptoms, and we don’t stop even when we’ve successfully resolved an illness or medical condition. Instead, we aim at nothing less than working with pet guardians to build greater vitality and balance than ever before, and thus high levels of resilience and immunity.

By analogy, we’re not interested in spraying the struggling “garden” of our patients’ system with a battery of pesticides. And we won’t even settle for pulling out all the “weeds.” Instead, we want to learn exactly what’s behind each patient’s susceptibility so we can take individualized holistic actions to allow their “garden” (their internal system) to flourish and thrive.

We do this by increasing cellular energy with a customized multiplicity of targeted nutritional enhancements, dietary supplements, and specialized enrichment activities that promote wellbeing and happiness. The efficacy of these approaches is well documented in many respected research studies and public health resources and have been shown to positively correlate with greater overall health, extended longevity, and spontaneous remission from dis-ease, including cancer.

The time has come to restore individuality to its rightful place in the practice of medicine, human and veterinary. By assuming a complex systems view, assessing susceptibility with the exposome model, using symptoms as valuable clues, and moving beyond curing dis-ease to promoting health, we can at last do justice to each individual and do our part to usher in a new era of health, happiness, and human and animal flourishing.

The Happiness Protocol: Why Individuality and Happiness Play a Huge Part in Your Pet’s Health

The Happiness Protocol: Why Individuality and Happiness Play a Huge Part in Your Pet’s Health

At Holistic Actions!, we are committed to so much more than helping pets become symptom and dis-ease free. The absence of dis-ease is not the same as the presence of health, and that’s why the end goal of everything we do is based on promoting, restoring, and maintaining vitality, balance, energy, happiness, and deep wellbeing.

True health is a “big picture” affair that involves every aspect of your pet’s body and larger life: their genetics, their diet, the amounts of exercise they get, whether they’re provided with regular enrichment exercises, how they were socialized, how close they feel to their guardians, how at ease they feel around other pets, whether they’ve been exposed to toxins, and so forth. Only by addressing and individually optimizing every single one of these aspects can we truly say that our pet is truly vital and balanced and healthy and happy vs merely dis-ease free.

 

Individual Optimization: BEAM and the Exposome

Every pet, just like every person, is an individual. The “paint-by-numbers” approach that has come to plague mainstream medicine prevents patients — animal or human — from receiving truly customized care based on their unique biology, life history, and symptoms. That’s why at Holistic Actions much of what we do depends on using two powerful approaches for assessing and working with your pet’s individuality: the exposome, and BEAM.

The exposome allows us to assess your pet’s individual exposure to things that can make them more susceptible to dis-ease: either exposure to negative things (like toxins, abuse, neglect, and so forth), or a lack of exposure/access to positive things (sound nutrition, adequate exercise, enrichment activities, and much more.)

BEAM is an acronym for Behavior, Energy, Appetite, and Mood. We teach pet guardians (who know their pet best) to identify and track symptoms across these four categories. Taking inventory of your pet’s BEAM allows us to collect highly specific clues based on your pet’s unique set of symptoms to support diagnosis and guide our initial treatment efforts. It also provides a baseline from which to assess how your pet is responding over time to the individualized treatment protocols we create for them.

 

Holistic Action’s Pet Happiness Protocol

Some compelling research demonstrates what we’ve been saying here: that health is about so much more than the absence of dis-ease, and that the experience of wellbeing and happiness may turn out to be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) predictor and “maintainer” of true health.

 

Research into Blue Zones

Dan Buettner’s research of clusters of people around the world who are the most long-lived, dis-ease free, vital, balanced, energetic, — suggest that happiness (and the strong, satisfying connections self, others, nature, meaningful activities, and a sense of purpose on which happiness is based) in inextricably related to true health.

Research into Radical Remission

Dr. Kelly Turner’s work identified 9 factors that promoted the spontaneous resolution of even serious dis-ease like stage IV cancer — provides further evidence that lifestyle changes that create conditions for happiness, connection, meaning and purpose play a huge role in the body’s capacity to not only heal itself from life-threatening illness but to actively thrive in the wake of it.

Research into Flow and positive psychology (aka “overflowing with joy”)

Wow, I am super excited by this wonderful work! This incredible field is describing the specific mechanisms and strategies to maintain and regain optimal functioning of the body both in all ways (psychological and physiological). It connects all the dots. The awe-some research by Drs. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Martin Seligman,  journalist-research Steven Kotler, and many others around the world, are describing the neuropsychiatric mechanisms and strategies that help people and pets live happy and vital lives.

More exciting research into the connection between the power of breathing, happiness, sense of purpose, community and engagement is being conducted by researchers around the world, Journalist James Nestor’s excellent book on the science of breathing and awe-some work by the Art of Living Foundation are just a few examples.

Why does happiness seem to have such a powerful hand in health? Current research suggests that the experience of happiness supports and increases cellular energy and smooth cellular flow in living creatures, and we at Holistic Actions believe that high degrees of cellular energy and smooth flow of information between cells enable pets bodies to have the best possible lives. They do this by maintaining balance, immune resilience, and speed healing from illness.

 

Unleashing the Power of Happiness With the Happiness Protocol

At Holistic Actions, we know it’s not enough to increase cellular energy with optimized nutrition, supplementation, and holistic approaches drawn from nature, the ancient healing arts, indigenous medicine, and the best of modern science. We also have to increase cellular energy by increasing your pet’s happiness, and that’s why we implement an individualized “Happiness Protocol” for each of our pet patients! Here’s a glimpse into just a few elements of it!

The Power of “Puppy Pranayama” — Sniff Walks and Snuffle Matts

Dogs (even more than cats) have a huge number of nose and brain connections to experience the world through their noses. Their powerful sense of smell is the number one way they explore their environment. A dog’s ability to regularly exercise their sense of smell has enormous implications for their health and cellular energy. If they can do so in the sunshine and open air, even better! If this is not practical because of your pet’s limitations, a snuffle mat is a great tool for indoor pranayama (breathing exercises). The snuffle mat is like a shag carpet in which you hide treats which your pet then sniffs out. This “exercises” their brain similar to the sniff walk. Daily therapeutic “sniff walks” are loose leash walks that help the body heal and support vitality (cellular energy) by providing it with more oxygen and prana (life force energy). Cat’s benefit from pranayama too, and you can encourage this with the “hunt for treats” game or anything that makes them purr. Purring is akin to the restricted breathing of the ujjayi breath in yoga (cats are natural yogis!). If you’d like many more details, read this vet journal article on the extensive benefits of pranayama.

The Power of Play — Meaningful Connection and Pleasurable Exertion

Remember how we said a sense of meaningful connection is one of the bases for happiness? Playing with your pet, or promoting play with other animals, is an important piece of the happiness protocol because when you and your pet interact in this way it’s one of the most positive and powerful forms of connection you can share with them. Not only does it deepen the bond between you, it also provides an opportunity for pleasurable exertion — for your pet to move their body for the sheer joy of doing so.

The Power of Novelty — Old Dogs (and Cats) Learning New Tricks

Pets benefit from novelty —  of being safely introduced to new things to help keep their brains sharp and to help them heal. Whether that’s a new toy, a new friend, a new park, a new agility course, or a new healthy treat, your pet’s happiness and wellbeing will increase through exposure to novelty. This can be especially powerful to help “tune-up” pets who have early warning signs of cognitive decline.

Understanding the role of individuality and happiness is absolutely essential for moving beyond merely treating dis-ease and instead focusing on creating true health. All living creatures — animal or human — want to thrive and flourish, to feel loved and to feel free, to feel energetic and at ease, to safely experience new things, and so much more. At Holistic Actions!, it’s our mission to ensure you have the tools, support, and resources for making this a reality for your pet. We’re here to empower you to help your pet live their healthiest, happiest, and longest life.

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