Health is not necessarily just the absence of disease, it is rather a universal good condition on all levels–physical, emotional and mental. Naturopathic health is a distinctively natural approach to health and healing that recognizes the integrity of the whole animal. Disease or “dis-ease” is defined as a lack of health. Disease results when any cell is not functioning 100% of its designed duty whether due to trauma, toxicity, lack of communication or a combination thereof. Disease is due to stress. Whether due to ignorance or laziness, exposing the body to stress will produce a diseased state of the body. Stress can come from a lack of proper nutrition, a bombardment of pollution and toxins as well as not getting enough rest. Stress is the only means of tearing down health resulting in disease, the body paying the price for violating the laws of nature. One does not “catch” a disease or illness, it is earned.

The body has an inherent desire for perfect health. As you begin to move your pet toward better health by keeping the natural laws of health, such as supplying proper nutrition and/or a natural healing program, healing begins to occur. As part of the healing process the body will begin to discard toxic residues that have built up over over time. The healing process usually does not occur without repercussions. During the initial phase of healing, the body begins to clean house so to speak, by throwing off accumulated toxins (or detoxifying).

A Healing Crisis is a natural occurrence and is part of detoxification. The process is referred to as a crisis simply because the body displays illness-like symptoms at a time when it is actually healing itself and the vital energy begins to repair and rebuild clogged or damaged internal organs. In a healing crisis, what happens is that the all the body systems are now working to eliminate waste products/toxins which is setting up the body for regeneration. Old tissues are being replaced with new.

When an animal’s body has taken in more toxins than it can filter out, for example when eating a nutritionally void diet day after day, being vaccinated, being treated with chemical pesticides, etc.; the body goes into a kind of “toxic overload”. As a result of this overload the body begins a detoxification process which can manifest in symptoms like lethargy, painful joints and stiffness, bad breath, eye and ear discharges, skin rashes and infections and loose or watery stools. Eventually, if the intake of toxic substances is not lessened or stopped all together, life threatening degenerative diseases such as diabetes, liver disease and cancer will be created. All of these are in reality, the body’s healing response to toxic overload.

In a healing crisis the diet has finally been improved with healthy foods and other nutrients which work to increase the body’s vitality and the ability to heal itself. During this healing process, while the body is throwing off toxins, you will see temporary “symptoms” which are similar to those the dog may have been suffering with before you made the choice to help it heal. These symptoms will often surface within just a few days after beginning the feeding of a raw species appropriate diet, or in some cases they will occur several months later.

Because this cleansing process is normal and necessary to achieve the desired results of good health, it is important that it not be misunderstood and/or hindered by the use of drugs or medication.

Far too often the healing crisis is misunderstood, and the new food or nutrients are unknowingly blamed for these temporary symptoms. Often, in bewilderment the new foods are withdrawn, and so too are their benefits. Then, again, if you panic and allow drugs to be prescribed to treat these temporary symptoms, the desired goal of long term health can never be achieved and consequently, the already impaired immune system is further weakened. We end up creating a vicious cycle where the symptoms are recreated by the body’s attempt to heal itself and then treated with drugs until suppressed, causing further impairment of immune function over and over again, resulting finally in what may become a non-curable degenerative dis-ease.

If a healing crisis occurs during the transitioning of your pet onto a healthier diet, please don’t panic. Don’t assume that the new diet is the cause of these new or reoccurring symptoms. Instead, try to see them as a positive sign that healing is actually taking place and the undesirable toxins in his body are working their way out.

Symptoms of a healing crisis may at first appear to be identical to the dis-ease it is meant to heal. However, please be aware there is an important difference which is: “elimination”. A cleansing,detoxing, purifying process is underway and stored wastes and toxins are now in a free-flowing state. Often times, pain and symptoms during the healing crisis are more intense than that of the chronic disease. Don’t panic, the healing crisis is temporary and necessary for your pet to be restored to health.

The following are a few examples of symptoms your pet might experience as his/her body begins eliminating accumulated toxins:

So when your pet experiences these symptoms it is best to remain patient and know this is all a good thing. Let the body rid its self of the toxins that are causing these reactions by keeping them on their raw, species appropriate diet and supporting the immune system with supplements if necessary.

Here are a few things you can do to lessen or ease the severity of the healing crisis and help increase your pet’s energy level:


As you may be upping the ratio of new meats or adding organs, go back to specific, single protein foods (i.e. chicken in the form of backs, leg quarters or necks) and the amount your dog was experiencing fewer symptoms with for longer than the originally prescribed period of time. This will give his system a little more time to adapt to the new nutrients. This should improve the symptoms in a week or two. If no improvement is seen at all, and you are working with an older dog or a dog that had been diagnosed with chronic disease then you can ever so slightly sear the meats. Just warming the meat a little bit will sometimes sometimes make it a bit easier on his compromised digestive system while the body further adapts to all the new nutrients.


Fasting your dog for 24-36 hours will give his digestive system a rest and encourage deeper healing. During the fast you may give him a Tablespoon of RAW local or Manuka honey in his filtered water however, going without any solid foods (no ground meat, soft bones, etc) of any kind is the idea and for at least 24 hours will be the most beneficial.

NOTE Do not fast your puppy if he/she is under one year of age.

It is usually normal for some transitioning animals to experience diarrhea and or a small amount of vomiting of undigested food. This is due to the fact that it can take a while for the good bacteria to build up in an animals digestive tract especially if he/she has always been on dry food or has taken antibiotics or been medication.

Whenever it appears, diarrhea indicates that the colon is attempting to remove toxins or other irritants by flushing them out quickly. Remember that diarrhea is a symptom, not a disorder unto itself.

Build up the “good bacteria” by supplementing daily with a probiotic such species appropriate probiotic such as Pet Flora for Dogs . This will enhance the body’s ability to absorb the much-needed vitamins minerals, and nutrients he/she is now able to receive and assimilate.

Add enzymes – Enzymes are the foundation of energy and the life force in all living things. They are responsible for building, detoxifying, and healing the body. They are also the force that allows the body to digest and absorb food. Enzymes also regulate tens of thousands of other biochemical functions that take place in the body every day. Even thinking involves “enzymes”. Without enzymes, seeds would not sprout, fruit would not ripen, leaves would not change color, and life would not exist.

If your pet has been on a cooked or processed pet food diet then no doubt it’s enzyme levels are very low. In the wild, naturally, dogs get enzymes from the raw meat and bone they eat. Supplement with digestive enzymes.

Always make sure your pet has plenty of fresh filtered water available. If you don’t drink your tap water then don’t give it to your dog to drink.

If the dog is weak and has had chronic disease, you can add NingXia Red to your pets meal or in the water. It is rich in antioxidants which will also help cleanse toxins and free radicals from his soft tissue, helping to restore a healthy immune system.

If recommended by your animal health coach, a little grapefruit seed extract may also be added to the water to help assist with the cleansing and healing process.

Please Remember, the worst thing you can ever do if your pet experiences a healing crisis is to stop his new diet completely or give him drugs to treat the symptoms. Doing so sets up a vicious cycle of drugs, more symptoms, and ultimately a totally compromised immune system presenting as an autoimmune disease, cancer, and death.

There are also herbs, essential oils and massage therapies that will help your pet to detox and cleanse.

Most of all try to be patient and remember your pets symptoms won’t last forever, and once he’s through them he will feel better than ever!

A consultation  is highly recommended if you have never transitioned a pet to a raw diet or been through a healing crisis with a pet previously.



Copyright 2006 – 2014 The Whole Dog, Whole Dog News Blog, Dr. Jeannie Thomason, All rights reserved.

No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the Author/Publisher. All the articles at The Whole and Whole Dog have been researched and reviewed for accuracy. However, they are educational in nature and not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a holistic or homeopathic veterinarian or other qualified canine health professional. The Whole Dog, Whole Dog News, and Dr. Jeannie Thomason does not assume any legal responsibility for misuse of this article which is intended to be educational only.

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