We love our animals. They’re family members, and they bring us great joy and comfort. For this reason, we have an obligation to keep them happy and healthy. Following are tips for keeping your pet – dogs and cats in this case – in top health.
Watch your pets’ weight. While many of us are frequently trying to lose a few extra pounds, we’re far less likely to notice problems with our pets’ weight. According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, about 59.5 percent of cats and 55.8 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. While a fluffy pet may seem “cute,” excess weight can cut animals’ lives short and lead to a host of health problems such as diabetes and cancer. Listen to your vet at your pet’s annual appointment. If the vet believes your dog or cat needs to slim down, follow her advice, and change the amount of food and the manner in which you’re feeding your pet. (And skip the high-calorie treats, or at least reduce the frequency.) It’s an important step for keeping your pet healthy for as long as possible.
Be careful with human food. Many human foods are good for pets. For example, kale, carrots, and salmon are excellent nutritional boosts for dogs. The problem is that many human foods can be toxic to pets. Chocolate, milk, or avocado are dangerous for dogs. Onions and garlic, liver, and bread dough containing yeast are all toxic to cats. Before you give your pets any human food treats, make sure the foods are appropriate for them. (And remember…not too many!) If you plan to pursue a whole food diet for your pets, consult with a veterinarian first to make sure your pets are getting all the nutrients they need and not eating anything harmful to their health.
Feed your pet high-quality pet food. Not all pet foods are the same. While the brand you buy may be saving you money, it may be harming your pet’s health. The food grade that is best for your pet will be determined by the animal’s age, type, and activity levels. While it’s always desirable to feed veterinary-quality food to pets, it may be cost-prohibitive for you. When you choose your pet’s food, read the ingredients label on the bag or can. The first ingredient should be something like “chicken” or “beef” instead of fillers and byproducts like corn, wheat gluten, soybean meal, etc. Ask your vet for a recommendation on good pet food that will fit your budget.
Don’t skip the veterinary appointments. It may be tempting to put off vet appointments. They can be expensive and time-consuming, and chances are, your pet doesn’t enjoy them. But just as with humans, many health problems, if caught early, are fixable. For this reason, it’s critical that you get your pet checked out by a qualified veterinary practitioner once a year, or more often if you notice any unusual or troubling symptoms in the animal.
Ensure exercise in your pets. Walking with your dog is one of the best ways for both dogs and humans to get the daily exercise they need. While it may not be possible every day, ensure you’re getting out for a good walk at least most days. Indoor cats also need exercise. If your cat has outgrown the “active kitten” stage, consider setting aside times to play with your cat using a laser pointer or other cat toy. Buy or build a “cat tree” that will encourage the cat to climb several times each day.
For dogs, consider allowing the animal to roam and play in your yard freely with the help of an electronic fence. DogWatch of Western Mass is committed to providing the safest, most effective electronic pet fences on the market. DogWatch has proudly served the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas since 1990 and belongs to the international DogWatch Dealer Network. We are committed, trained professionals offering years of experience in installation, training, and customer service. Being locally owned, we have a vested interest to keep our customers – and their pets — happy!