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This past season, some of my clients have had their beloved animals leave their physical bodies. It brings up the topic of death that we so often want to avoid, yet its one we must all face when we have the privilege of having an animal grace our lives.

Many animals make their transition out of their physical bodies in the spring or late fall.  Just as the seasons change, it seems to trigger underlying health issues in animals.  So when spring is a time of hope and new beginnings, it can be especially challenging when dealing with the grief & loss associated with the death of a precious animal.

For many people, even the thought of losing their beloved animal triggers painful emotions and the grief process can start even while the animal is still alive.  Then to make matters worse, people are faced with important decisions about an animal's treatment, level of suffering and euthanasia.  Quite often, these decisions need to be made, yet with very little time to make them.

Since each animal has a distinct personality, each one has a preference as to whether they prefer to die naturally, whether they want assistance from a vet, whether they want to die alone or with their family around them etc.  So it can be helpful to work with an animal communicator to find out as much as you can about their preferences.  It's a wonderful way to honor your animal's wishes at a very critical time in their life.

A session with a healing touch practitioner can also be beneficial for your animal by preparing it for a smooth transition physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Essential oils and energy work can address physical issues, like pain and anxiety, as well as the emotional and spiritual side of your animal to facilitate a calmer and peaceful transition for your beloved animal.

Animals tend to take their impending death much easier than most humans as they know their spirit or essence will continue to live on even after they leave their physical body.  They understand the only thing they take with them is the love and connection to their family members (both human and animal).

To those of you who have experienced the loss of a special animal in your life, my heart goes out to you.  Rest assured that your animal's spirit is never far away and in time, you will be reunited again.  Trust that the bond of love you form with your animal transcends time and can never be broken.

Most of us like to dive into our food, especially our animal friends. I'd like to spend a few minutes diving into the topic of food for our animals.  How do we select our animal's food?  Do we grab a convenient bag of kibble as we race through the grocery store?  Do we watch for sales or the best coupons?  Maybe we choose the kibble by the well-known name brand or the "natural" disclaimer on the bag.  Are we unknowingly limiting the quality of our animal's food with our own shopping habits?  How important is our animal's diet anyway?

Any vet will tell you that animals are enduring more chronic and acute illnesses.  They seem to be living shorter lives and increasingly dying at an age much less than their expected lifespan.  Good nutrition is key to the animal's (and our) overall health and optimal functioning of the immune system and organs.  We can go a long way in minimizing the increasing animal health concerns such as allergies, arthritis, dental disease, cancer, degenerative diseases, skin and coat issues.  Many of our animals are overweight and suffer similar weight related illnesses to humans - heart disease, joint issues and diabetes.  The type of food we feed them is critically important as it directly affects their well-being, quality of life and life-span.

So where do you start in this maze of animal food products?  We are fortunate today.  There are many high quality foods available that range from raw food diets to kibble.  That choice is based on each individual situation.  I'm not going to debate that here.  The goal of this article is to stimulate you to learn more about the quality of food.  Educating yourself about animal nutrition is important before you start walking the maze of products. So pick up your kibble bag, read the ingredients and consider what you are serving up for your pet.

How do we begin to choose a good commercial food for our animal?  Dogs and cats are meat eaters by nature, with cats requiring an even higher percentage than dogs.  Although they may do well on diets with less meat, most will do better on high quality meat protein.  It is important to know the meat content of any product you are buying. Ingredients are listed by the highest volume to the lowest.  If you see corn, soy or wheat listed first, you know that most of the product is not protein.  Minimally, the first ingredient or two should be a protein source and listed as specific meats such as chicken, turkey, duck or chicken meal, turkey meal or duck meal.  Both are clean, non-rendered muscle tissue.  Non descriptive meat sources such as Meal and Bone Meal or "by-products" are the lowest quality meat sources; often non muscle based and slaughter house wastes.  By-products are not digestible forms of protein.

Read for other ingredients on a label.  Try to avoid artificial coloring which provides nothing except esthetic quality for the people who feed the animal.  Look for the preservatives added.  BHA, BHT and ethoxiquin are often used in lower quality food.  Other things to avoid are excessive amounts of sodium, sugars, flavor enhancers and texture stabilizers, like promptly glucates, glycols, etc.

Human grade food will help to minimize toxins, including pesticides and hormones, used in processing.  Organic ingredients will have the least amount of these.  Fresh food is usually healthier than processed food.  Treating or supplementing a dry food with fresh foods, such as carrots, apples, fruits, cheeses and vegetables can give them some of the benefits of fresh food with their kibble.

Finally, obesity in animals is a major problem, just as in humans.  Feeding more or less according to their weight is so important.  Grain based treats are often part of a dog's diet and can add additional calories fast.  Nothing beats exercise to help maintain weight, both from burning more calories and facilitating digestion.  So go lace up your shoes and enjoy a walk with your dog!

FIRST THINGS FIRST – Taking care of yourself
What once was a known in your life, may now be an unknown.  This theme has repeated itself over and over in too many lives in too many ways over the past year.  Where once there was the constant of employment, home, food on the table, retirement savings and health insurance, now is loss and uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring.  Even if you haven't been affected by the devastation of these losses, chances are you know someone who is.  You may live in fear that your job is next.  Those of us lucky enough to keep our job are feeling the effects of needing to do more with less, as coworkers are laid off.  One can't drive around town today without noticing the glaring effects of the poor economy in "For Lease" signs replacing the welcoming signage of a store or restaurant.

I don't think I need to go on.  Just writing and reading this can cause stress.  Stress is unavoidable in today's world.  We are surrounded by it at our jobs and in our homes.  Every time we pick up a paper, turn on the TV or read this newsletter, our physiological "stress handlers" kick in.  Our bodies are revved up for survival in the same way they prepare for our fight or flight.  As we talked about in our first newsletter, this can lead to physical illness.

Not only is this stress affecting us, but it is also affecting our furry companions.  Animals are extremely perceptive and sensitive to what is going on around them emotionally, either spoken or unspoken.  They pick up our moods, fears and stress energetically even before we begin to express it, even before we are aware of it ourselves.  Many animals, who share our homes, take on the "job" of being our companion, friend and comforter, providing us unconditionally with love, no matter what mood we are in.  Being so "in tune" with us, they frequently pick up our stress and incorporate it into themselves.  They are there for us in times of good and bad.  They share our burdens and unfortunately our stress with its effects. This stress can manifest in behavioral and/or physical issues in our furry companions.

Now you are now aware of one more huge stress - negatively affecting your animal friend with your stress.  However, this newsletter is really about the positive.  We want to give you ways to deal with the stress - ways to reduce your stress and hence your animal's stress.  Self care is doing something for yourself.  Some of our ideas cost some money, others are free and right there at your fingertips, others are about reducing your stress by sharing yourself and helping others to reduce their stress.  Please make a decision to embrace at least one of these or other ideas for yourself and for your animal.

  • If you are experiencing a job loss, financial stress or any other loss, a good way to cope is to spend more time with your animals.  Studies show petting your animals reduces your stress levels and lifts your spirits.  Focusing away from the problem brings an opportunity to access new ideas and solutions. 
  • Socialize with your friends and bring your animals.  Its great to get support from friends & family and your animals will enjoy it too. 
  • Talk to your pet about what's going on.  They want to help you.  For example, if it makes you feel good to have your pet cuddle with you or greet you at the door when you come home, just ask him/her to do that.  Tell him that he is there to be a companion to you and not take on your stress.  That is yours to deal with!
  • Help others when you can.  If you know of someone who's struggling financially and they have pets, offer to help with food, toys or even offering to dog sit while they job search.
  • If you or someone you know are struggling to keep your pets during these hard financial times, check out and pass the word about Pet Project.  It helps people keep their pets by providing pet food and basic supplies;
  • Consider donating your time to a local animal shelter or rescue organization - or if you can afford to make a financial donation, consider donating. 
  • Show gratitude for what you have.  No matter what you've lost of don't have, you always have something to be grateful for like the animal who loves you unconditionally.  It is hard to be stressed when you come from a place of gratitude.
  • Find a way to reduce your stress.  Maybe you have a favorite way to reduce your stress.  If so, incorporate it into your life regularly and maybe try other ways too.  Here are a few suggestions to help you decrease your stress:

            Exercise like swimming, biking, or walking (your dog will like it too)
            Soak in a hot bath
            Essential oils
            Massage or yoga
            Healing touch (for you or your animal - it helps release the stress)
            Listen to relaxing music
            Read a book
            Breath work  

Self care is so important, especially in today's world.  If you are interested in learning more about the powerful effects of healing touch or essential oils in reducing the effect of stress, please contact Deb.  Visit me at my new office at:  4445 W 77th Street in Edina MN, or call me at 612-247-0388.

Animals are such creatures of habit and they find comfort in routines.  They prefer to sleep, eat and eliminate at the same time each day.  As a result, changes to an animal's routine can bring them out of their comfort zone and evoke stress and anxiety, similar to those experienced by humans.  Stress and anxiety in animals can often develop into destructive behaviors and health issues.

When changes are made to an animal's routine, it is important to observe both their physical and psychosocial needs.  For example when children are home for the summer, returning to school or relatives are visiting, your animals may need additional time to rest.  If family members are gone more frequently, animals may become sad, withdrawn, and/or exhibit destructive behaviors so they may need more toys or mental stimulation.  Vacations can also be a time of great anxiety for animals if they're not going with you, as animals often feel abandoned and wonder if their family will ever return.
It is extremely important to prepare your animals for upcoming changes, just like you would a young child, in order to reduce their stress level when the change occurs.  Think of it like this, wouldn't you want to be notified ahead of time when you're going on vacation, visiting relatives or having company visit? : Keep in mind that animals also want to be prepared as the unknown can be very scary for them.
To prepare an animal for upcoming changes, simply follow the steps below:
1.  Clear your mind of extraneous thoughts.
2.  Choose a method to communicate with them, either verbally or by picturing the change in your mind.  (If you are wondering whether animals can understand language, the answer is yes!  It is very similar to how a young child understands the meaning of different words even before they learn to speak).
3.  Let animals know when the change will take place and/or the time.  Let them know how many days and nights will be involved.  If you're not sure of the details, give them the information you do have and update them once more details become available.
4.  Remind them when the time approaches for the upcoming changes.  Similar to people, animals need reminders as they don't always pay close attention or remember everything we tell them.
When stress and anxiety can't be avoided, there are several types of products that can help. Therapeutic essential oils, like Peace & Calming, and flower essences, like Rescue Remedy, are two products to use during times of stress.  Peace & Calming is a Young Living product that can be purchased through Deb or any other Young Living distributor.  Rescue Remedy can be found at some pet stores, health food stores and co-ops.

By preparing your animals for upcoming changes to your normal routine, it will help them successfully adapt to change, which in turn creates a happier, healthier and more confident animal.

Questions or comments?  Please call us at  651-480-8866
Mailing Address:  Dawn Huebner, Animal Psyche
216 Myrtle St W, #546
Stillwater, MN 55082


Copyright Animal Psyche 2005