Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vegetarian Dog: Cancer's Final Grip

There is nothing more rewarding than adopting pets, especially when they are rescued.  Some may argue, and I will concur, that rescued pets are very grateful that you saved them.  In my opinion, there is an unequivocal bond  that takes place between the hero and the rescued.  The best part of that relationship is the unconditional love that accompanies such a dynamic bond.
This couldn't be more true than between my dog Dewey and I.  He was living off of fast food scraps and parking lot litter when my sister found him more than six years ago.  Turns out, some homeless dude staked his claim on him, however the story was a weird one and only half believable.  Nonetheless, this emaciated and scraggly dog instantly bonded with my 2 year old Lab mix and after a couple of drawn out hours, I took him home with me.
Although he has had his health issues and a few PTSD issues from his past, Dewey has been a fantastic dog.  He loves my son to pieces and he is a great watch dog.  He spends most of his day chasing squirrels or napping in the sun.  He loves rides, swimming in the dog park pond, and sitting by the cozy fire on cold days.
Then, about a year ago, his health started to slowly decline.  I did not notice it at first and just thought his laziness was attributed to his old age.  He slowly lost weight and in August I noticed him starting to consume a lot of dirt.  At first I just thought it was because the food I had him on was not giving him all of the nutrients that he needed.  But my other two dogs were not having the same issues as Dewey was.
Devastatingly, and a bit too late, we found a large mass in his abdomen.  Hoping that surgery could remove it, I opted for an operation to find out what exactly the mass was and to remove it if possible.  My luck stopped short at finding out that the mass was in his small intestines and pancreas, making it impossible to remove.  The veterinarian made the suggestion of not awaking him.  But that was not an option for me.  Despite everyone's suggestions and recommendations, I brought Dewey back home with me.  If he was still fighting, I would be right at his side fighting with him.  I was bound and determined to win.
I hit the internet hard.  I was using all the knowledge I obtained in my holistic health degrees to search for cures.  So many cultures around the world have cures for cancer that I found it time consuming to dig through them all.  Many of them conflicted with one another: meat vs. meatless; sodium bicarbonate vs no sodium bicarbonate; rest vs exercise, the list goes on and on.  Interestingly though, almost all of the cures had to do with nutrition and maintaining a healthy body.
Then it occurred to me that commercial dog food is anything but nutritious and healthy.  Dog food is made from things not deemed fit for human consumption: inedible parts from animals which wasted away in their own feces, were hyped up on antibiotics, given hormones, and fed synthetic foods.  Commercial dog food is a slurry of these inedible animal parts, various chemical preservatives, and other artificial ingredients.  We trust in these companies to make products safe and nutritious for our pets, but pet food is the fast food of the animal world; and like the children who grow up on fast food, dogs who consume commercial dog food are given an unfair advantage when it comes to maintaining their health.
I also realized that dogs are so much more susceptible to chemical exposure than adult humans are.  I realized this about five years ago when I switched to natural products inside the home to aid in my son's hypersensitivity to chemicals.  Dogs are extremely susceptible to not only the chemicals in our air, but to all the chemicals used in out daily lives.  I perhaps think that Dewey's cancer may be attributed to his lowered immune system, improper nutrition, and the chemicals used at the dog park.  But there is no certainty what was the actual factor.  All I can do is move forward.
This is where all of my extensive health knowledge kicks in.  There is a little known therapy outside of the United States which uses the phytochemicals and enzymes from certain fresh fruit and vegetables to combat cancer.   It has been estimated to be 99% effective in curing cancer in humans if the regimen is followed exactly.  It is relatively easy in concept: buy a juicer and start juicing those certain plants, pour into a bottle and enjoy.  Reality of it is, it is a lot of work!  Not to mention dogs are carnivores.  Doing this therapy would require transforming a carnivore into an herbivore.  More easily said then done.  But I decided to give it a go.
Carnivores need certain nutrients only found in meat, thus Dewey needs to be supplemented every day.  I had to research exactly what nutrients dogs his size need every day.  Also, their digestive tracts are made for protein, however this cancer diet does not contain substantial protein, thus he will have to be fed quite frequently and plant protein (although not recommended for cancer) will have to be added once per day. 
After four days, the routine got easier.  Feedings every 2 hours turned into feedings every 4 as Dewey's appetite came back and the amounts increased to small bowl fulls.  The juice was first administered forcefully by a syringe, but after some tweaking and a lot more apples in the mixture, the juice is easily accepted. As Dewey's strength improved, organic oatmeal was mixed in with the juice to give him more sustenance.  At first he shook uncontrollably because of the carbohydrate overload, but more juice and less oatmeal solved that issue.  Now he looks forward to his feedings.  If you would have asked me a year ago if I would have a vegetarian dog, I would have laughed at you.  But I am not laughing now.  It is completely possible to turn your dog into a vegetarian.  Now only time will tell if this therapy will work on dogs.  

 In memory of Dewey
March 2005 - Feb 2013                                   

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Holidays Are Over, Now What.

The hustle and bustle of the holidays draw to a close and, if you are anything like me, you have a messy house, kids in pajamas taking up space on the couch, and/or are dreading the fact that you have to start a 5-day work week on Monday.  Not to mention, you look at the scale as your enemy.  How much of that holiday cheer has left pockets of reminders on your thighs, hips, butt, and stomach?  It might bug you a little that the scale is impartial: sitting there waiting to tell you the truth but not caring one way or the other about your emotions.  In the end, that scale is not a friend of yours, just as much as it is not your enemy.  It doesn't judge you, deny you of anything, or even lie to you.  It is just a tool to remind you to get on track again, that's all.

Well, first thing is first, start slowly.  Most people put off exercising until the madness is over.  Who can blame them? December is a very busy month.  There are endless birthdays and/or anniversaries, 4 major holidays, 2 or 3 other holidays for a small percentage of the population, a few engagements here and there, a dozen parties to attend, and less than 23 real shopping days until Santa shoves himself down your chimney.  On top of all of that, you still have to work, clean house, and be able to muster enough energy to be who you need to be.  So start off slowly.  Remember to stretch right after getting out of bed.  Try doing 5 -10 minutes of light cardio per day until it becomes easy (usually 7-10 days).  Add weights to your cardio sessions and increase the duration slowly.  Your goal is to work up to 60 minutes of moderate exercise per day at a minimum.  Getting there should take 6 - 8 weeks.  A total of 90 minutes of total exercise is ideal; switching the routine up daily and cutting the time in half or thirds.  Day one might include walking your dog in the morning and cleaning the house in the evening. Day two might include swimming or basketball, day three might be spent at the gym or in front of a workout video, and so on.  Switching it up fatigues the body more, which is actually a good thing.  It will increase muscle tone, burn more fat, and improve heart health.

Slowly work back in vegetables in your diet.  Ultimately, your meals should be 3/4 plants, 1/4 protein, 1/4 everything else.  Eating two salads per day is the way to go for the busy person.  Loading up a salad with all sorts of vegetables and lentils will do just fine.  Adding meat or cheese (not both) to the salad will also meet these requirements.  Veggie sandwiches, vegetable stir fry, meatless spaghetti, and other heavy vegetable dishes also do the trick. I always tell people that they can eat whatever they want, if they eat it with or along side vegetables.  I also tell people not to worry about bananas, avocados, seeds, and other "fattening" plant foods. It is a common theory that ALL fats are bad.  But recent science has suggested that animal fats are the main culprit to inflammation and cardiovascular disease.  In the holistic medical field, eating a variety of plants provides a healthy assortment of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and phytosterols which ward off diseases like diabetes and even cancer.  On this note, avoiding canola oil, vegetable oil, and animal grease is a must.  Opt for safflower oil, sesame oil, or coconut oil for cooking.

Lastly, take it easy.  The most important thing you can do for yourself is to compress the stress.  Exercise will help tremendously, but also add some meditation in your routine.  Listen to soothing music or soundscapes while imagining yourself sitting on the beach or in the middle of a beautiful forest. Do this at least once per day for a minimum of 5 minutes.  Being where you want to be instead of where you have to be will relax your body, your mind, and most importantly, your spirit.