The Cleansing Process.
By Dr. Lisa S. Newman, Ph.D.
The most common question people ask me when inquiring about switching animals over to a more natural, chemical-free diet is, "Will my animal get sick?" Often it is asked by dog owners who have witnessed their dog get diarrhea and even vomit, after switching "brands" in the past.
The cleansing process which I have witnessed in hundreds of animals is very different from the gastro intestinal upset caused by change in "brands", which generally occurs in dogs and cats. Cats have a highly sensitive digestive system and although the dogs are scavengers by nature, they are also sensitive to the additives and chemicals found in most pet food products. When animals ingest a new or different type of filler or perservative, it can be irritating to their stomachs.
The cleansing process I am referring to is the one which occurs as the animal's body begins to respond, on a more substantial level, then the gastro-intestinal reaction to simply switching brands. I have seen this occur in each and every animal which has made the switch to a natural diet. A few weeks after the animal has been introduced to new wholesome foods, the body begins to cleanse itself. Generally, animals have built-up many toxins due to poor quality sources of nutrition, chemical-filled diets, improper supplementation, exposure to harsh evironmental pollutants, previous and present drug use and even from the tap water they drink.
When wholesome, nutritious foods are eaten, (chemicals, preservatives and additives eliminated and exposure to pollutents is reduced), the body begins to cleanse itself. After three to five weeks, the time neccessary for old cells to begin being replaced with new healthier cells, the body then feels strong enough to attempt some major internal cleansing. This process includes drawing accumulated toxins back into the blood for elimination, and discharging old debris from the colon.
It is not uncommon, during this period, for an animal to respond as if it were ill. During the cleanse, the animal may become lethargic, refuse food, but seek grass and have terrible discharges including eye, nose mucus, waxy build up in the ears, greasy skin, gas and there can be a pudding-like stool or diarrhea. Blood may be present in the stool, as well as, old particles of fecal matter that resembles tar. These are all good signs that the body is ridding itself of built-up debris and toxins.
In addition to these symptoms, a fever may be present. This is the body's way of "burning up" toxins, and the use of antibiotics or anti-diarrhea medications will simply stop the symtoms and prolong the cleansing period. It is best, during this process, that the animal be allowed to rest and fast itself. All energy must be reserved for cleansing rather than additional digestion and assimilation. A solution of 1/2 cup oatmeal water (to soothe the digestive tract and absorb impurities), 1 tablespoon each of lemon juice and liquid garlic (to disinfect and reduce harmful bacteria), 1/4 cup of seaweed or wheatgrass juice (to provide vital minerals) and 1 tablespoon honey (for energy), may be given in addition to plenty of pure water, to help flush out the body and reduce fever. Give two ounces each of these solutions and water, per ten pounds of body weight, per day. HOmeopathic remedies such as Nux Vomica 6X, Ferrium Phos. 3X and Arsenicum 6X, may also help to minimize the discomfort of detoxification. If fever or diarrea persists for more than twenty four hours, do seek the advise of your holistic veterinarian.
Although this cleansing process may be difficult to witness and uncomfortable for your animal, it is a small price to pay for the benefits which will follow. Detoxification should not take more than three to four days, but it is dependent upon the age and history of the individual animal. It is best to always follow the recommendations of a knowledgeable professional, to assure the success of the cleanse.
When breaking the fasting period, it is important to slowly reintroduce foods, so as not to overload and irritate the rested stomach and colon. Begin with four small meals per day, for the first two days. This should consist of cooked oatmeal, replacing the 1/2 cup of oatmeal water used during the cleanse. Include the other ingredients as listed. This will make a creamy, liquid meal. Feed 1 tablespoon per meal, per 10 pounds of body weight. Example: A 40# dog will eat 4 tablespoons of meal, four times a day. On day three and four, cut back to three meals per day. These should continue to be the oatmeal meal with the addition of an equal amount of their new food. Then on day five, begin to feed two regular meals of their new food, per day. You may want to continue with the oatmeal water mixture for a short cleansing period, once a week. It is only needed for the one day, and okay to go back on the regular diet the following day. I regularly rest my dogs' digestive tracts each Monday. It gives the body a chance to keep itself cleaned out, and dogs, especially in the wild, will choose to fast every few days. Cats generally will only fast when needed, so I do not support a weekly rest period for them.
Once this process has been completed, noticable changes will begin to occur. First, the skin and coat (once shed) will appear softer and slicker. Chronic bad breath and gas will be gone, and general youthfulness present, regardless of age. A decrease in food consumption will also occur and stable weight maintainence. Proper digestion and assimulation (due to better absorbtion through the cleansed colon) will result in a stronger immune system and healthier animal.
The cleansing process is an important first step in assuring a healthy life. Since a clean digestive tract and proper assimilation of nutrients is the foundation of a healthy body, this process must not be avoided. Simply changing from one food to another (even "healthier" product), will not assure success, if the body is not utilizing this diet properly.