A is for animals. Many of us have one or more pets whether they are cats, dogs, birds, horses, etc. Our pets can have some of the same health problems that we do and for most of the same reasons. The diet for most of our pets is unnatural and without variety. Commercial brands of pet food are highly processed; containing additives, artificial coloring, large quantities of salt and sugar, and chemical flavorings that contribute to health problems.Cancer, heart disease, arthritis and immune deficiency are the top health problems in animals as well as people. Other problems such as skin diseases, allergies, liver disorders, kidney disorders, epilepsy, lethargy and hyperactivity are common today in animals and can be blamed on poor nutrition.The good news is that pets respond well to proper nutrition. In fact, pets tend to respond more rapidly to changes in nutrition than do humans. There are good brands of pet food out there that do have good science behind them as well as natural supplements that help to correct imbalances or problems created by prior nutritional imbalances. Two common deficiencies that I see when I work with pets and people are trace minerals and enzymes. Trace minerals are essential for many processes in the body. They tend to be either absent from the food or in the wrong ratios to be utilized. Good trace mineral supplements are available and are easy to either sprinkle on pet food or give in pill form. I like either humate (food grade) or a product called Herbal Trace Minerals that contains dandelion, kelp and alfalfa. The green food supplements such as Barley Cat or Barley Dog are also good.Enzymes represent the other deficiency that I commonly see. Enzymes are found in raw food, but not in cooked or processed food. Eating cooked or processed food tends to direct all the enzymes the body toward digestion rather than the essential metabolic processes run by enzymes. Adding certain enzymes such as protease tends to relieve conditions caused by enzyme deficiency. I am partial to Wysong pet food because it is coated with enzymes and probiotics immediately prior to packaging.A relatively new problem with dogs and cats is allergy to corn – I don’t know if this is because there is more corn in pet food now, or if it is the genetically modified corn. Symptoms of corn allergy typically show up as skin problems. For joint issues, I have seen lots of good results with the Silver Lining herbals.For liver and kidney problems, the same herbs that work on people will work on pets. Dandelion and red beet root are used often. For general health and filling in the gap of nutrients not in pet food, I like Missing Link – a nutrient rich, good tasting powder for pets that helps skin, coat, digestion and more.Pets can also have emotional problems generally caused by something traumatic. Homeopathic flower essences for the specific emotional issue are helpful as are general remedies such as Rescue Remedy or Calming Essence. These are great for car rides, thunderstorms, etc.Remember, your pet depends on you to make good nutritional choices for its health, happiness and well-being. Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.