Your dog is a precious member of your family so prioritizing their health and wellness are as important to you as your own health. In addition to visiting the vet every 6 months, when sick, or as advised when they are ill—there is a growing list of alternative treatments to consider. From organic CBD oil for dogs to improved nutrition, music therapy, massage, and more.
1. Improving Your Dog’s Nutrition
The first place to begin is rethinking your dog’s nutrition. While kibble and canned dog food are convenient, not all store-bought dog food is equal. Just like the foods we eat, investing in quality can make a world of difference. For this reason, a growing number of pet owners are buying organic and grain-free dog food, raw dog food, making their own dog food, or supplementing kibble and canned food with dog-safe human foods.
Here are a few tips for personalizing your dog’s nutrition.
Ask Your Vet—talk to your vet about what type of food your dog should be eating. For example, puppies require additional protein and should not be fed adult dog food or specialty formulas. Your vet may also suggest prescription formulas to address your dog’s individual needs. They may even weigh in on their raw food diet, but some vets only suggest store-bought food. If you prefer store-bought options, make the move to organic and grain-free dog food.
Pet Nutritionist—just like humans have nutritionists, so do dogs. A nutritionist can help you determine what store-bought foods will best address your dog’s needs. Unlike most vets, a nutritionist can also help you create a strategic homemade, raw food, or hybrid diet. They will gradually transition your dog to their new diet to minimize digestive disruption and will ensure that their diet is personalized for their age, health, and individual needs. Also, that their diet has the ideal balance of protein, fat, and essential nutrients.
Dog-Safe Human Foods
There is a long list of human foods that dogs must not eat, including chocolate and any processed food. However, there are quite a few foods dogs can eat without worry. It may feel uncomfortable at first if you have always purchased store-bought dog food, so keep in mind that dog food was a human invention.
You may be able to find a local raw dog food supplier, but if not, you can work with your pet nutritionist to create a diet that includes a mix of the foods below to eliminate store-bought dog food. This list can also be used to personalize or boost the nutrient value-of their store-bought or raw diet. This includes mixing in coconut oil, fish oil, organic apple cider vinegar, or CBD oil for dogs.
Several dog-safe foods are included in the list below, which should be introduced gradually to their diet as advised by your vet, alternative pet practitioner, or pet nutritionist:
- Raw or cooked eggs
- Goat’s milk
- Pumpkin puree
- Bone broth
- Coconut Oil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Organic CBD oil for dogs
- Cooked chicken
- These properly prepared fruits and veggies
Prepping your dog’s diet is fast and easy, but if you don’t have time you can find local pet chefs. Just be mindful that many raw and human foods spoil quickly, so you may need to arrange for pick up or delivery a few days a week—or freeze and defrost. Just in case, keep store-bought canned dog food or kibble on hand.
2. Alternative Therapies For Dogs
There are a variety of reasons to consider personalizing your pet’s wellness with alternative therapy, including behavior issues, anxiety, depression, trauma management, seizures, aging, and pain management. This may include any combination of:
Specialized Training—professional training can be valuable for all dogs, but specialized training may be required for dogs who are aggressive, have experienced trauma, or have any type of anxiety. For example, desensitization training for situational anxiety. If you can’t find a local trainer who can help, there are countless options in online dog training programs. Some live programs may require a few weeks without your dog while they are at a training facility. It’s not just your dog that will need to commit to their training, but also you and your entire family.
Holistic Veterinarian—a holistic veterinarian is board-certified in conventional veterinary care, but also prescribes or practices complementary therapies. They determine which treatments or combination of treatments will best resolve your dog’s health or wellness concerns. This may include any combination of the alternative treatments below.
Herbalist & Homeopathy—pet herbalists and homeopathy specialists focus on treating the cause of the symptoms, not just the symptoms. They turn to pet-safe plants and herbs, which may include organic CBD oil for dogs. They can treat everything from asthma to seizures, acute and chronic pain, cysts, cancer, and more. They often work in partnership with your vet and other alternative pet practitioners.
Pet Acupuncture—although needles are used on your dog’s meridians and pressure points, acupuncture is virtually painless for dogs. It’s most common for pain management, to minimize the side effects of chemotherapy, arthritis, nerve issues, asthma, allergies, dermatitis, and gastrointestinal pain.
Pet Chiropractic—chiropractic care is another “human” treatment that may be effective for your dog. Your vet or pet chiropractor will realign their spine for improved range of motion, proper tail placement, proper head placement, or improved gait. It is also an effective treatment for pain, muscle tension, improved circulation, accident, or injury recovery.
Canine Physical Therapy—a pet rehabilitation specialist most often works with aging pets who are experiencing chronic pain or pets of all ages who are recovering from surgery, broken bones, accidents, or injury. Their goal is to speed up recovery and improve quality of life. Just like human physical therapy, they will often prescribe at-home exercises that you must perform one or more times per day with your dog.
Hydrotherapy—a relatively new type of pet and animal therapy, hydrotherapy for pets is still evolving. It is often utilized in conjunction with physical therapy and includes having dogs swim or walk in water to assist in rehabilitation.
Pet Massage—you can take your dog to an alternative practitioner who specializes in pet massage to target their individual health concerns. Your practitioner will often teach you how to perform the same massage techniques on your dog at home. The objective is often to relax an anxious dog, improve circulation, minimize pain, improve range of motion, and boost overall immunity. You can find many dog massage videos on YouTube, but if you try massage without a live practitioner’s guidance, ensure you are gentle. Here are a few at-home dog massage tips from the “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan.
Hot & Cold Therapy—a popular therapy for humans and pets, it isn’t likely that your dog will sit still while you apply a hot or cold compress. Not to worry, as you can invest in hot or cold mats that your dog can lay on. They know what feels good, so they will lay on it if it alleviates their pain. Be sure to use a product designed specifically for pets, especially if it’s a heated mat that requires electricity.
Therapeutic Ultrasound—there are two primary types of ultrasound, diagnostic and therapeutic. Therapeutic ultrasound has been used on humans since the 1940s and animals since the 1970s. It is a 100 percent pain-free treatment that utilizes sound waves to vibrate deep into tissue to promote healing. Your dog won’t feel a thing.
Music Therapy—just as loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms can cause your pet to feel stressed and anxious, music may help to alleviate your dog’s stress. This includes treating dogs who are depressed or who experience separation anxiety while you are at work. Thanks to modern technology, you can play soothing music for your dog when you aren’t home and manage their music remotely.
3. Pain Management For Dogs
Just like humans, there are a variety of factors that can cause or contribute to your dog’s pain. Some pain is acute or short-term. Maybe after they jump down from the bed and land wrong? Some pain is chronic or long-term, often caused by accident, injury, broken bones, illness, or aging. This includes arthritis or lifelong joint pain after a broken bone.
Since your dog can’t tell you they are in pain, and not all pain causes physical symptoms (such as limping) you must know what to look for. Take your dog to the vet immediately if your dog is:
- Showing any changes in mobility or range of motion.
- Unusually quiet, listless, or unresponsive to regular stimuli.
- Whining, whimpering, or howling for no discernible reason.
- Exhibiting drastic behavioral changes such as aggression or submissiveness.
- Biting or snapping from a typically non-aggressive dog, particularly after being touched.
- Excessively licking of any body part.
- Not eating or drinking or eating or drinking less.
- Flattening their ears against their head.
- Not sleeping through the night or they can’t seem to get comfortable.
- Seeking out more attention than usual or seeking less attention than usual.
- Hiding under the bed, in the closet, or laying somewhere unusual.
- Not acting like themselves in any way small or large.
Diagnosing Their Pain
The first step is for your vet to diagnose your dog’s pain. This will likely be completed by any combination of a physical exam, lab work, and x-rays. Once diagnosed, your vet will suggest a treatment plan which may include short-term use of anti-inflammatories and any combination of the alternative therapies mentioned above.
It will also include minimizing or eliminating the cause of the pain. For example, your dog may love to jump down from the couch or bed, but if it’s causing them pain it’s time to train them to utilize pet stairs. Or dietary changes to further minimize inflammation.
For chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis, which affects approximately 20 percent of aging dogs, you may consider a variety of pain-relief methods. Short-term use of an anti-inflammatory can take the pain down to a manageable level, but many pet owners are exploring their options in organic CBD oil for dogs.
A recent study of 20 large dogs with osteoarthritis, in a double-blind placebo using three different types of CBD, showed promising results. Both veterinarians and pet owners saw significant improvement in mobility and pain in the highest frequency group. If you are going to utilize CBD for your dog, work with a veterinarian to determine a comprehensive treatment plan.
4. Anxious Dogs
Dogs can experience anxiety just like humans. Identifying the cause of your dog’s anxiety is essential for identifying a resolution. Dogs can experience 3 types of anxiety: Fear, Separation, and Age-Related.
Fear-Induced Anxiety can be caused by anything from thunderstorms to fireworks, car rides, trips to the vet, moving to a new home, or objects that they are unsure of such as an umbrella, large box, or the Christmas tree. Maybe even a person that they don’t like. They often exhibit behaviors such as trembling, whining, licking, hiding, or aggression.
Separation-Induced Anxiety affect about 14 percent of dogs pre-pandemic, but after a year of working from home, this number is on the rise as family members head back to work and school. This includes dogs that did have anxiety pre-pandemic, exhibiting behavior such as urinating or pooping in the house while you’re gone, pacing, barking, and destructive behaviors.
Age-Induced Anxiety is often related to a condition called cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), which is similar to dementia in humans. Symptoms can manifest in a variety of ways, but your dog is not conscious of its behavior. This type of anxiety is present when you are home and when you are out of the house.
Resolving Your Dog’s Anxiety
Once you identify your dog’s anxiety trigger, you will likely need to test a variety of methods to help soothe their symptoms. Unfortunately, there may be little you can do to improve age-related anxiety, as their cognitive decline makes a strategic approach challenging. If their anxiety is new and you are not sure of the cause, head to the vet to ensure it’s not a symptom of illness or injury.
A few options to consider include:
- Being proactive and putting the dog somewhere comfortable during fireworks or thunderstorms.
- Testing a calming or “hug” vest during times of anxiety.
- Hiring a pet sitter to stop by 1 or 2 times a day while you are at work.
- Dropping your dog off at doggy daycare.
- Taking an Uber or having someone drive you to the vet to provide them with more attention in the car.
- Giving them extra attention with petting and playtime both when they are anxious and as a proactive approach to ease their anxiety.
- Trying CBD oil for dogs to soothe their nerves.
- Consider getting a second pet, either a dog or cat, to minimize separation anxiety.
- Counterconditioning or desensitization training conducted by a professional trainer.
- Testing alternative therapies such as massage or music.
- If it doesn’t disrupt your life or schedule, proactively avoid their trigger. Such as heading somewhere quiet for the Fourth of July.
Easing The Anxiety of Moving
Even if your dog has never displayed anxiety before, the stress of moving can trigger anxiety because your dog doesn’t understand what is happening. Ease the anxiety of moving by:
- If the boxes and moving supplies start to stress out your dog, try to pack one or two boxes at a time and place the packed boxes in one room in the house.
- Pack your dog’s room or favorite area last, bringing their pet bed, blanket, toys, food, and daily essentials with you in the car.
- Send them to doggy daycare the day of the move or have them spend a day with a friend or family member they are comfortable with.
- Before you bring them to the new house, create a safe space (maybe a bedroom) for them in the new home—and have their pet bed, toys, food, and water set up and waiting for them. Keep activity in this room to a minimum while they settle in.
- Give them extra attention the week or two before and after the move to let them know you are there for them.
- Consider an anxiety prescription or CBD oil for dogs when their anxiety rises.
- Be patient and understanding while packing and during the first few weeks after you move. Your dog may exhibit unusual behaviors during the first few weeks. For example, they may be anxious to play outside or go on walks.
5. Depression In Dogs
Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, but dogs can also become depressed without experiencing anxiety. However, if anxiety-inducing triggers persist, it can lead to depression. Depression can also be caused by the death of another pet, the death of a human family member, a new baby or person moving into the home and taking attention away from the dog, and a variety of other factors.
Symptoms of depression in dogs include:
- Excessive licking
- Chewing their paws
- Changes in eating habits
- Changes in sleeping habits
- No longer enjoying activities they once loved
- Some dogs howl, whine, or show aggression
As soon as you notice a behavioral change, head into the vet, as undiagnosed illness and injury are two of the most common causes of depression in dogs. Even if you are fairly confident your dog is depressed, maybe after another pet has died, schedule a veterinary appointment to explore your treatment options.
Sometimes a pet just needs time or extra love and attention. However, just like with humans, depression symptoms can be chronic and recurring. This means that you must identify what works best for your dog, creating a personalized daily routine and treatment plan. For many pet owners, this includes daily CBD oil for dogs.
Using Organic CBD Oil For Dogs
Hemp-derived CBD was legalized in all 50 states as of the 2018 Farm Bill. If you are unfamiliar with CBD, it provides humans and animals the benefits of marijuana without the high.
When it comes to utilizing CBD oil for dogs, there are a few things to keep in mind. The industry is unregulated so identifying a product that checks all the boxes below is best.
Organic Only—ensure that the product you choose is USDA-Certified organic. This means that not only is the cannabis organic, but that the carrier oil (typically olive oil) is also organic.
Transparent Processing—the CBD industry is unregulated so identifying a brand that is 100% transparent about how their CBD is processed and tested is essential. This goes beyond ensuring the product contains .3% or less of THC, but that processing does not contaminate the product.
Pure Product—to keep their profit margins high, many CBD brands water down their products with unnecessary additives. While they may market themselves as hemp-derived cannabis, their product may only contain a small percentage of CBD. So, read the label to check for milligrams per serving and nothing other than pure olive oil.
Cost & Quality—we all enjoy saving a few dollars when we can, but you often get what you pay for in the cannabis industry. Generally, less expensive products contain a low milligram, are not organic, and are not pure. To soothe your pet’s body or stress, you will need to invest in a higher-end product. So, stock up when products are on sale.
Oil Vs. Dog Treats?
You can find CBD dog treats, but the most versatile option is an oil tincture. It is easy to mix into their meals and it can also be applied topically. This allows you to adjust frequency quickly and easily as advised by your vet or pet practitioner.
Looking For Organic CBD Oil For Dogs?
If you are in the market for a CBD brand that covers all the bases above, Holmes Organics CBD Oil Tincture has you covered. Our CBD oil for dogs comes in a dropper making it easy to personalize to an exact drop or desired number of milligrams. While this blog post focuses heavily on dogs, you can use our tincture too!