This is your go-to location for the products and services I recommend. Many of these things I use for my own dog, Maple. So you might say they are “Maple-Tested, Dr. Carney-Approved!”
Commercial Pet Food
I feed Maple a variety of foods, including cooked “human” food, dehydrated raw, and occasionally some canned food. I am fortunate that Maple doesn’t have any food allergies, and I am able to rotate her protein source.
What about feeding cats? The most important thing you can do for your cat is to feed moistened food. Cats are desert animals and are not geared to drink a lot of water. They are supposed to get the majority of their water from eating prey. We’ve not done them any favors by feeding them hard crunchy kibble. There are many ways to go about this. You can feed canned food, moisten the dry food, cook for them, or feed commercial raw food. My favorite website about feeding cats is catinfo.org, written by Dr. Lisa Pierson.
Cooking for Your Pet
Sometimes I cook for Maple. Cooking something tasty and balanced requires some preparation and time, and I can’t always pull it off during my busiest weeks. Cooking for your pet doesn’t have to be intimidating, though. I’ve found some great resources that make it easier:
Dr. Ihor Basko, “Fresh Food & Ancient Wisdom“ This book is hands down my favorite. Dr. Basko, who is a vet in Hawaii, has filled 304 pages with great recipes that look like what we’re used to seeing in the Betty Crocker Cookbook. His approach is “Food is Medicine.” Mahalo, Dr. Basko, for writing this wonderful book!
Dr. Karen Becker, “Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats” As much as I love Dr. Basko’s book, cats aren’t given much coverage in it. That’s where this book shines. If you have a large pack to cook for, her recipes will help you scale up and keep everyone’s belly full! Dr. Becker is an integrative wellness veterinarian practicing in Illinois, and you can follow her blog here.
Dr. Ernie Ward, “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs are Getting Fatter” Dr. Ernie Ward founded the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention and speaks around the country on this topic. His book has a chapter on making home cooking healthy, with recipes for meals and treats.
Dr. Richard Pitcairn, “Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats” Dr. Pitcairn founded the Animal Natural Health Center in Eugene, OR to better understand and utilize homeopathy in treating animals. His book, now in the third edition, is much more than just a cookbook, but good nutrition is featured as a pillar of good health. All pet owners could benefit from having a copy of this book on their shelf!
If I had to choose only one company’s supplements for animals, it would be Standard Process. It’s hard for me to believe that before 2011, I didn’t know a thing about this company, which has been around since the 1920’s. These whole food and herbal supplements have changed the way I practice, and my personal health has improved as well. I toured the SP organic farm and manufacturing facility in Wisconsin in May 2012, and I came away nothing but impressed with their attention to detail, quality control, and research efforts. I wrote a two-part blog about a dog named Windsor, whose health has improved while taking several SP products. My dog Maple takes Enteric Support daily. Between this and her diet, she has one small firm bowel movement a day. She’s happy, and so am I!
Another product I like is Dr. Mercolas’ Digestive Enzymes for Pets. You can read my blog about digestive enzymes here.
Food Allergies in Dogs and Cats
Used to be that if we suspected a food allergy in a dog or cat, we’d undertake a lengthy process of elimination of suspected allergens. It was a hit or miss approach. Or more recently, prescription veterinary diets containing protein sources such as pulverized bird feathers have been introduced as a solution. If you think your dog or cat is sensitive to one or more food ingredients, I highly suggest you check out a saliva test called Nutriscan. Dr. Jean Dodds, a veterinarian in California, developed this test. I have personally used it for patients, whose health has improved substantially after changing their diets based on the personalized report. Check out the website for more information; note that you can order your own kit, collect the sample, and send it in!
Essential Oils for Pets
In the past few years, I’ve been learning about essential oils and how to use them safely and effectively with animals. My mentor in this endeavor is Dr. Melissa Shelton, a holistic veterinarian in Minnesota. She is affectionately known as The Oily Vet, and she has spent the past 5 years or so completely immersed in studying and using essential oils in animals. She has launched her own line of essential oil blends (animalEO), specially created with animals in mind (but always tested on humans too!). If you want to know how to use these powerful plant oils on your pets and be safe doing it, please check out Dr. Shelton’s website and essential oil offerings!
Finding a Veterinarian
If I were searching for a veterinarian to care for my pets (and were not already a vet myself), I would want to know about this website. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) is a leader in educating, innovating, and advocating for integrative medicine. There are brilliant individuals who are practicing traditional Western Medicine across this country. However, I have reached a place in my evolution as a veterinarian and pet parent, and I think the addition of knowledge and clinical skills from other traditions only stands to benefit health and well-being. If you are thinking you’d like your pets to receive fewer vaccinations (aka only the ones they need and only when they need them), exposure to fewer chemicals, with a focus on whole food nutrition, this website is a good place to start.