You probably have done a few diet cleanses at some point. After all, many of us need to "reset the clock" after the winter season and those delicious holidays. Well, if your four-legged buddy is snacking away on conventional pet food and treats, he or she may be due for a cleanse, too.
Sound odd? Let us normalize the concept by introducing you to Rainbeau Mars, the creator of the 14-Day Family Health Challenge. Mars, along with Mars' veterinarian Dr. Valentine, have incorporated pooches in their family-based cleanse. To get more information about the Health Challenge, we sent Mars some questions.
Organic Authority: What's the overall philosophy of the 14-Day Family Health Challenge?
Rainbeau Mars: Many domesticated animals suffer from chronic and degenerative diseases (much like humans) not experienced by their wild counterparts. This could be a result of the similar processed and prepackaged diet wrought with nitrates, hormones, antibiotics, and chemicals that today is so commonly fed to pets. Household animals could greatly benefit from eating a diet rich in organic, raw and/or vegan foods as they would be found in nature.
OA: How was it created? And how did you and Dr. Valentine come up with the Canine Cleanse?
RM: With a new addition to my family, our cat Prince Oliver Blue, named for his Russian Blue pedigree, I’ve been reminded of how a beloved pet is much like a child, and yet it is socially acceptable to treat them like possessions instead of the amazingly wise and conscious earthlings that they are. I enlisted the help of Dr. Valentine to ensure Oliver’s vitality and longevity amidst the pollution and stresses of living in Los Angeles.
"It's best if animals are the way they do in the wild. Yes they need protein but it definitely does not come from can. Our pets could be healthier if we paid more attention to what we fed and how we treated our animals," says Dr. Roger Valentine
Dr. Valentine confirmed my long standing belief that the more that we align with the laws of nature, we can reap more radiant health and spiritual connection. This applies to humans and pets alike, as we are all earthlings on this planet.
OA: How does it benefit dogs?
RM: Studies have shown that many pet owners discover relief in various ailments such as allergies, many types of cancer, and kidney, heart, and bone problems after adopting a similar health regimen when recommended by their vets. Some potential benefits could include weight loss, improved behavior, healthier coat, skin and/or teeth, increased energy and overall verve.
OA: How does it work with the human cleanse?
RM: The rule of thumb for both families and pets during the cleanse, is to pick foods sourced as close to nature as possible. That means eating more plant-based, whole food meals and consuming them in their raw or living state when their enzyme and nutrition levels are most potent. We offer some recipes specifically for humans or pets, but some meals could be enjoyed by the whole family, like our Summer Squash Bisque.
OA: What's the food prep time like for pets? And will people who haven't cooked for their pets before be able to do it easily?
RM: That’s one of the questions we get the most, but it’s actually a lot simpler than people think. Sometimes it’s just a matter of offering your pet some of your berries and nuts or a simply seasoned rice pilaf. Many families chop or grind raw meats, or toss a bunch of veggies into a pot to steam which can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes prep time.
It’s definitely more work than pouring kibble from a bag if you go the route of giving your pet homemade meals, but the benefits are well worth the effort. There are also a lot of great health-conscious products on the market that people can choose from if they are limited on time but interested in upgrading their pet’s diet.
The idea is to find alternatives to traditional canned pet foods and their miscellaneous ingredients. Some brands even use meat of other cats and dogs in their recipes! The packaging is really important too, as products sealed in aluminum cans can leach toxic heavy metals into the food, which can adversely affect your pet's vital organs.
Instead, you can buy dehydrated raw meat in the refrigerated section and your pets will love it. Dogs often love things like raw coconuts or home cooked organic or raw meals whether it's sourced from a selection of plant-based foods or animal.
Cats obviously are carnivorous while they can benefit greatly with serving them some other things they might eat in the wild like plants and grasses. They do well on raw dehydrated meats and even can benefit from essential oils just like our dogs do.
It’s all about finding what works best for your family and maximizing on whatever you choose to do.
OA: What does the cleanse entail for humans (food, schedule, etc.) and for pets?
RM: There’s a lot of flexibility but we do give some guidelines for people to structure in their own schedule and lifestyle habits. Basically we want families to be able to take whatever they’re already eating and upgrade it with the healthiest ingredients possible, making meals that are both nutritious and delicious.
The goal is to take a break from the junk; factory farmed products, white sugar and flour, fried and fast foods, and chemicals. And to eat an abundance of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, raw and vegan options, and protein sources that are plant-based, grass-fed or free-range.
OA: How can the overall cleanse help change how people, and pets, eat and live?
RM: Processed and prepackaged junk foods loaded with chemicals are not only harsh on our bodies, but they’re also a grave burden on the environment. The invitation is for families to explore a lifestyle aligned to the abundance of plant-based foods and even experimenting with some eco-habits like gardening and composting, which could have a profound impact on the planet as more communities reconnect in this way to the soil beneath our feet.
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Image of dog eating veggies from Shutterstock