By Tracie Korol
With the seemingly sudden appearance on the national scene of all things “natural” for dogs, one might think that holistic pet care and feeding a dog “real” food was something developed in an advertising agency, or at best, by a handful of revolutionary veterinarians. Not so.
Today’s holistic pet care movement began over 70 years ago when Juliette de Bairacli Levy defined “natural rearing.” Ms. Levy was born in 1912, in Manchester, England. She was raised in a wealthy household and was educated at Lowther College, one of the best girls schools in Britain. She went on to study veterinary medicine at the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool. However, in her final year of study, she decided that conventional medicine had none of the answers she sought and so embarked on a lifetime of travel and study with nomadic peoples, in England, and then around the world.
In the late 1930’s. 20 years before a vaccine was readily available, Levy ran a distemper clinic in London at a time when many dogs were dying from this disease. She treated and cured hundreds of dogs with fasting, herbs and a natural diet. An inexhaustible writer, she published the first of her books about that experience, “The Cure of Canine Distemper,” describing the protocols she developed in the clinic. “Puppy Rearing by Natural Methods and Medicinal Herbs: Their Use in Canine Ailments” were reprinted for a wider audience in 1947. In 1955 she combined these works into “The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat,” the book that brought natural rearing philosophy to breeders, trainers and dog owners of the world.
Five Rules of Natural Rearing
Levy’s basic rules of natural rearing for dogs require:
1. A correct natural diet of raw foods;
2. Abundant sunlight and fresh air;
3. At least two hours of exercise daily;
4. Hygienic kenneling, with the use of earth, grass, or gravel runs (never concrete);
5. Herbs, fasting, and other natural methods instead of vaccinations and conventional symptom-suppressing drugs.
Holistic practitioners recommend feeding a home-prepared diet of raw food, including meat and bones, often using the diet of wild wolves as a model. Her proponents feed a variety of foods including raw meat, dairy, eggs, minced herbs, and smaller quantities of fruit, vegetables, powdered seaweed, and grains such as oats, soaked overnight in raw goat milk or yogurt. Levy credits kelp and seaweed with giving dark pigment to eyes, noses, and nails, stimulating hair growth and developing strong bones.
In addition to providing ample pure water at all times, she also recommends one meatless day and one fasting day (no food, just water) per week for adult dogs. Where bones are concerned, she recommends feeding them after the main meal so that the bone is cushioned by food and other fiber to help sweep bone fragments from the system. Her dietary recommendations are accompanied by traditional herb formulae for the life cycle of a dog: birthing, weaning, health maintenance, and disinfecting herbs that protect from viruses, bacteria and parasites.
Her early theory that healthy dogs need as much time outdoors as possible in full-spectrum daylight has been proven in countless studies of daylight and the endocrine system. Her early theory of healthy dogs requiring daily outdoor exercise has proven to do more than burn calories. It stimulates the lymphatic system, strengthens bones, improves immunity and keeps dogs smiling.
Cell biologist, James Oschman, PhD, in his book “Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis of Bioenergy Therapies,” links modern health problems to our insulation from the natural supply of free electrons that reside on the surface of the earth. Juliette Levy suspected as much knowing that animals will always choose contact with the earth. It improves sleep, reduces inflammation that causes pain, balances hormones, enhances circulation and neurological function.
Levy’s theories encourage us to think for ourselves and not blindly follow established methods just because we are told. Though she witnessed almost an entire century of technological breakthroughs, she advocated natural methods. Juliette de Bairacli Levy died May 28, 2009, at the age of 96.