Can Nutritional Therapy Help Your Pets?

By Marijke van de Water


Contrary to popular opinion, the diet of the domestic dog or cat does not provide all of the nutrients that they need for optimum health. For many years pet owners were educated to believe that a bag of commercial pet food would provide all of the nutrition that their pets would need to stay healthy. However, with the current epidemic of diseased dogs and cats everywhere, most of us have since learned that there is no possible way that a processed diet – or any other diet for that matter – can offer enough nutrition to ward off all illness. And, we will never be able to standardize a diet – raw, cooked, kibble or otherwise – for all dogs and cats because varying lifestyles and situations, including age and breed, makes a “one-fits all” diet impossible. Rarely then can any diet provide the appropriate levels of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients that are required to sustain the numerous body functions and processes that support life, prevent disease, maintain health and optimize wellness for each individual pet. All pets, especially those with health problems, are affected by specific nutrient deficiencies and/or the requirement for well-selected vitamins and minerals that must be supplemented at therapeutic dosages to be effective.

Nutrient Deficiencies

A nutrient deficiency disease is when an illness or disease occurs as an actual result of one or more nutrient deficiencies which results in clinical symptoms. Therefore, when the specific deficiencies are replenished or corrected the symptoms disappear and the disease is so-called cured. Nutrient deficiency diseases can manifest from incomplete or inappropriate diets; poor digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients from food; faulty metabolism, toxicity, illness, abuse or neglect, over-training, unhappy households and/or periods of high nutritional demands. All of these situations can deplete a variety of different nutrients. And, if they are not replenished they will eventually lead to more health problems which lead to more deficiencies which lead to more health problems…and so it continues. In addition, all medications, without exception, deplete certain nutrients. Drug-related deficiencies therefore are very common but seldom addressed. For example, antibiotics deplete probiotics, biotin, folic acid and Vitamin B12; and steroids deplete calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and B-vitamins.

And furthermore, nutritional deficiencies are often overlooked because of the mistaken assumption that they can all be identified with blood tests. But blood tests are a very poor indicator of nutritional status since the blood is the last vehicle to change when a particular nutrient falls below normal or adequate levels. This means that certain body organs and tissues can be deficient in a particular nutrient for months or even years before it will ever – if ever at all – show up in a blood test. (This is also true for people by the way.) These unidentified “sub-clinical” nutritional deficiencies are therefore difficult to diagnose, at least with conventional medical tests. This is unfortunate because nutrient deficiencies are extremely common and have a major impact on health, wellness and disease prevention.

Some of the most common deficiencies present which are seldom identified include calcium (muscle strength, joints, arthritis, anxiety); magnesium (nerves, heart, muscles); potassium (digestion and elimination of toxicity); iron (anemia, energy, circulation, immunity); selenium (liver, immunity, muscles); vitamin B6 (arthritis, hormones, skin); vitamin B12 (anemia, energy, colon health, anemia, nerve nutrient); and folic acid (protein digestion, parasite resistance, nerve nutrient). When nutrient deficits are identified, replenished and corrected they have a significant influence on the health of your pet – they feel better, they digest better, they eat better, they build resistance to disease, they are more mobile and they live longer.

Therapeutic Nutrition

Therapeutic nutrition is a primary holistic therapy which means that when vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, probiotics and phytonutrients are supplemented well above the recommended daily dose, they have a significant impact on health by altering the course and the outcome of the disease. All nutrients nourish the body and provide the elements for it to prevent and heal its own diseases and imbalances. Therapeutic nutrition is not based on identifiable or overt signs of deficiencies, nor does it focus on the so-called balanced diet or minimum daily requirements, since these guidelines are clearly not adequate. Rather, it is based on the fact that all nutrients must be present at optimum levels in order for all physiological processes, including the immune system, to function properly. Therapeutic nutrition is also able to address deficiencies that are sub-clinical and impossible to detect on a blood test, much less to the untrained eye.

Rarely, is there a health condition that does not benefit from or even derive a cure from applied therapeutic nutrition. I consider it a mainstream and primary therapy for all health conditions and it belongs smack-dab in the middle of animal health care!

Where to Start

Because nutritional deficiencies and individual requirements with therapeutic dosages are difficult or impossible to identify with conventional medical tests, and, because nutrition is poorly understood by most health care practitioners, clinical nutrition of any kind is not considered a primary therapy by mainstream. Most animal health practitioners have little to none knowledge about the relationship between nutrition and disease. It just isn’t in their training, despite the fact that clinical nutrition is a strong science. This lack of training is unfortunate because nutrient deficiencies are very common, and the benefits of therapeutic dosages have a major impact on health and wellness, as well as disease prevention and treatment.

An effective nutritional supplement program can be determined by working with those who have a strong background in animal nutrition and/or knowledge of deficiency symptoms. Practitioners with a working knowledge of nutrition can often identify deficiencies by considering the pet’s health history, medication history, diet, lifestyle and current symptoms. Methods such as nutritional kinesiology and/or hair analysis as also very useful tools. Kinesiology – also known as energy testing – is a practical and simple-to-use muscle testing technique that can identify both nutrient deficiencies as well as imbalances in certain organs and body systems. Hair tissue analyses are invaluable in helping to determine mineral deficiencies and excesses, toxic heavy metals, inflammation and the stability of endocrine glands such as the adrenal, thyroid and pituitary.

About Marijke van de Water

Marijke van de Water, B.Sc., DHMS is an Animal Health & Nutrition Specialist, Homeopathic Practitioner and Medical Intuitive who has worked with animals and their people for over 25 years. She is a well-known speaker and educator and has recorded over 100 radio shows and videos on topics of holistic health. She is the author of two best-selling books: Healing Horses Their Way, Healing People The Marijke Method and is currently completing her third book on Healing Dogs. For more information please visit her websites: