Nutritional Therapy for Pets Versus Veterinary Drugs

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Published: 20th August 2010
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Nutrients are a natural part of the cellular environment. The use of nutrients as part of a therapeutic program for pets to promote healing and regeneration is based on an understanding of the wide role that macronutrients and micronutrients play in cellular physiology and veterinary nutritional biochemistry. Therapeutic nutrition enhances an animals healing processes by providing the cells with a better environment for regeneration and overcoming the myriad of stresses caused by injury or disease.

Historically, vitamins and essential minerals were considered only as agents used to reverse or cure the condition associated with their deficiency in the diet; however, clinical research now suggests that many disease conditions of the dog, cat, horse or bird, have nutritional or environmental components that, when properly managed, help potentiate the healing response. Vitamins have many other functions besides simply preventing the deficiency disease associated with their essential nature. For example, vitamin C may enhance immune function, neutralize free radicals, lower elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, detoxify some harmful metabolites and environmental pollutants, counteract allergic responses, act as an anti-inflammatory agent, reduce cataract incidence, counter stress, and aid in the treatment of degenerative joint disease and cancer. Many published studies show the involvement of vitamin C in the prevention and treatment of many disease processes. Vitamin C works in concert with many other nutrients to promote healing and recovery from disease. Research continues to demonstrate the healing potential of a wide variety of nutrients, such as coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, L-carnitine, the essential fatty acids, glucosamines, shark cartilage, and potent antioxidants, including proanthocyanidins.

Properly administered, drugs play an important role in veterinary practice. Drugs are effective in the treatment of disease, but they are usually foreign to the animal's body, and the pharmaceutical mode of action differs from that of nutritional therapy. Nutrients support and correct normal cellular metabolic pathways, whereas drugs may block or interfere with biochemical adaptation processes related to the disease. Drugs ameliorate a disease symptom by acting as analgesics, anti-inflammatory agents, and antimicrobials, for instance, by blocking an enzymatic pathway, modifying cell membranes, or changing a physiologic process. Aspirin works as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent by blocking the action of the enzyme cyclooxygenase, which is involved with the formulation of the prostaglandins that are part of the inflammatory response. Aspirin is also well known to cause gastroduodenal lesions in dogs, depending on the dosage regimen. Drugs are usually fast-acting but can exhibit potentially toxic side effects to our pets, especially when used over an extended time. Drugs generally treat symptoms and modify disease conditions, but they fail to potentiate healing by dealing with the basic cause.

Nutrients can function as therapeutic agents. Although nutrients tend to work more slowly than drugs, in the long run they enhance metabolic processes and help restore function and balance to the body. Nutrients can contribute important metabolites to cellular regeneration, improve the flow of energy, potentiate immune function, detoxify or neutralize cellular toxins, and improve enzymatic activity. Nutrients contribute to the optimal functioning of the cell during times of stress and disease and aid the body in the healing and regeneration process through natural means. With few exceptions, nutrients are generally free of side effects. Whereas drugs treat symptoms, nutrients can be used to correct the cause of a health problem, reduce symptoms, and help the animal's body rebuild healthy tissue.

Safety Considerations

Baring any specific drug/nutritional supplement interactions, nutritional products can be used with most all drug therapies. Such a complementary approach usually brings faster, more effective results because the nutrients contribute to the healing process and the improvement of health over the long term.

The following link will direct you to Nutritional Therapies for Pets where you will find information on nutritional supplements that are used for various health and disease conditions in dogs and cats.

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