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Lessons learned about pet care, and life.

By Liz Mugavero
Near Hartford, Conn.

One of my favorite parts of my Pawsitively Organic Mysteries being out in the world is the engagement with readers, and especially readers with opinions on pet care. I love that conversations are happening on this subject, and all the sub-themes that fall out of it: nutrition, veterinary care, alternative treatments.

I’ve had pets for the past sixteen years of my adult life, and I’ve spent the last decade heavily involved in rescue. I’ve seen a lot of differing opinions on a lot of subjects, and because of that I’ve been better able to form my own opinions. And I’ve discovered that the main things I’ve learned about pet care apply to life in general, so I thought I would share the top three:

1. Educate yourself and draw your own conclusions.
Don’t take anyone – or any piece of information – at face value just because it’s a person with a bunch of letters after their name or a piece of research with a fancy source, tempting as it might be. Example: one of my cats became very ill when she was seven years old. It was sudden and it was serious. The vet I had at the time told me she had FIP, a horrible disease that was usually fatal. But based on everything I knew about FIP, it didn’t make sense. She wasn’t the right age, and I’d had her since she was a kitten with no signs of this, ever. Yet the vet insisted he was right and told me since I fostered cats, I’d probably “brought it” into the house. Then he said I should euthanize her and all my other cats too, because they would all likely die within the next few days.  

Now, if I knew nothing and let fear drive me, I wouldn’t have her anymore – or some of my other cats. But I wasn’t buying it. I called an alternative vet I’d been using for another feline friend. This doc had done her time – 25 years – as a traditional vet. She swooped in, treated my girl homeopathically right at the vet clinic where they had her in quarantine.

And guess what? She came home a week later. (After all that, the vet swore it was his medicine that saved her). But I knew the deal. She’s 16 now and going strong. Which brings me to my next point:

2. Trust your gut.
This is one of those reminders you hear all the time, but honestly – it’s true. If that guy in the parking lot gives you a bad vibe, take a different route to your car. If something doesn’t feel right to me involving my cats or dogs care, I listen to that feeling. I’ve learned so much about medicine over the past few years and the terrible things they can do to a body. When I’m faced with a decision about medicine, food or even vet care, I rely on my gut as much as, or more than, my research.

And once you make a decision, own it:

3. Stand by your convictions – even when people think you’re crazy.
People often think I’m crazy. I’m okay with it. I believe wholeheartedly in homeopathy and natural medicine. The story above is a good reason why. But I’ve also lived in the world of traditional vets – especially in the rescue field – who have no use for “that stuff.” Some are downright nasty about it, and they expect you to fall in line and toss out your beliefs like yesterday’s trash.

But if it’s important to you and you’ve had success with it, or even if it just feels like the right thing to do, then do it. One of my other cats has a chronic condition and he gets very sick from vaccines. The last time he had one he didn’t eat for days and I had to force feed him so he didn’t end up with fatty liver disease. After that, I made the command decision to not give him shots anymore, since he’s an indoor cat. I can’t tell you how many vets argued with me about it. I finally found an awesome vet who does both traditional and homeopathic treatment. Hallelujah.

Readers, any like experiences with your pets (or in your own life) to share?

Liz Mugavero is the author of Kneading to Die, a Pawsitively Organic Mystery. As you can imagine, her canine and feline rescues demand the best organic food and treats around. 

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