Magazine article Insight on the News

Now It's Cholesterol-Free Low-Cal Snacks. for Dogs

Magazine article Insight on the News

Now It's Cholesterol-Free Low-Cal Snacks. for Dogs

Article excerpt

Pet owners are turning to holistic veterinarians--nutritionists, aromatherapists, acupuncturists--to keep their animals healthy, one reason the pet industry rakes in billions each year.

Judy is only 5 years old but her large, brown eyes and bone-thin frame betray her condition: a body eaten from within by cancer. Not all is lost, however. Although close to death a month ago, the much-loved pet boxer is rebounding, thanks to a mixture of herbal remedies prescribed by an unusual veterinarian specializing in "natural" pet therapies.

"I get these patients when other vets have given up" says Sandy Bradley, a vet in Upper Marlboro, Md. A prior vet had given the dog injections to fight heartworm that included an arsenic compound, plus a flea medicine that contained toxic chemicals. "All this stuff wears the poor animal down," she says.

After feeding the dog a liquid chlorophyll mix, Bradley pops a clove of garlic into her mouth. The grateful pet has gained 7 pounds in the last three weeks. "One vet told me he wouldn't have any problem putting her down" says John Armbruster, Judy's owner, who was tipped off to the holistic vet at a local health-food store.

Growing numbers of vets are prescribing natural pet therapies, organic solutions and herbal medicines for the country's 70 million cats and 56 million dogs. The macrobiotic and natural-food crazes of the 1970s has become the natural pet-food craze of the 1990s.

"It's the tail end of the health movement" says Tim Carambelas of Pet-Sage, a natural pet-food supplier in Virginia. Americans spend $10 billion a year on pet food, according to Consumer Reports. Individuals pay anywhere from $80 to $1,200 a year for dogs and $50 to $900 a year for cats. But some of the most expensive brands, touted for their health benefits, are no more nutritional than supermarket varieties, according to the magazine.

Nevertheless, the natural pet-products industry has grown from $2 million in gross sales in 1993 to about $65 million annually, boasts Carambelas, who says, "People are starting to put two and two together and realizing there is a direct correlation between what we feed our animals and their health."

A lot of ingredients in the major pet foods are carcinogens or at least are causing long-term damage in pets, claims Angle Predhomme, founder of the Michigan-based Holistic Care for Animals referral service. Certainly there has been an increase of newspaper stories detailing the rendering of dead pets--ground up with their collars and flea tags--into pet food. …

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