During this season of giving you can give your pets the gift of natural health. That’s a gift that can continue all year long and pay off in happier, healthier, longer living pets and less vet bills for you. Here are some of the things experts recommend considering for healthy pets.
We all know that there is an obesity problem in this country for people, but did you know that 50% of dogs and cats are also overweight? This increases their risk of joint pain, arthritis, kidney disease, diabetes and reduced life span. Part of this problem is due to our busy lives and us not making the time to exercise ourselves, much less give our pets the exercise they need. Pets need exercise just like we do to burn calories. Louise Murray, DVM, DACVIM, vice president, ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City advises that playing 10 minutes each night with your cat can help him or her wind down for the night and burn off calories. Look too for ways to increase the amount of exercise your pet gets naturally. For example, for a cat put the litter box and food bowl far enough away from each other that the cat has to walk and maybe even climb to get from one to the other. You can use the same strategy for dogs that are left at home while you are at work with keeping food and water bowls on the opposite side of the house from the doggie door. Give some thought to the setup in your house and items your pet accesses and see what else you can come up with to increase exercise for them. If you live in a small apartment and absolutely can’t get out to take your dog for a walk every day, check into a dog walker service or a doggie day care option in your area.
Strong Clean Teeth
Pets need healthy teeth just like people do, but there are around 78% of dogs and 68% of cats more than 3 years old that have various dental diseases that include tartar, gingivitis, receding gums, inflammation and tooth loss. According to Jeffrey Klausner, DVM, chief medical officer at Banfield Pet Hospital in Portland, OR, keeping your pet’s teeth healthy also can prevent bacteria getting into the bloodstream through the gums. If this bacteria gets into organs it can cause cardiac, kidney or liver disease. Kate Knutson, DVM, co-director of Pet Crossing Animal Hospital and Dental Clinic in Bloomington, MN, adds that pets that have their teeth kept clean can live 3 to 5 years longer. The best way to keep your pet’s teeth clean is by brushing them. Be sure and get a toothpaste that is designed for pets though. Human toothpaste could have xylitol in it which can be deadly for dogs.
Pets do need to be bathed, but too much can dry out their skin. Once a month or even once every 2 months is enough for dogs and cats should only normally need a bath once or twice yearly. If your pet has skin problems, they may need more, so check with your vet in those cases to see what is recommended. When bathing, it is best to stay away from heavy chemical shampoo and go with a natural one specifically made for pets or use castile soap.
Your pet has different nutritional needs than humans do and there are many people foods that are actually harmful to pets. For example, chocolate can make a dog extremely sick or even lead to death. Giving people foods to your pets also contributes to the pet becoming overweight in many cases. On the other hand there are some people foods that make good low calorie treats and are safe for your pets.
Cats need double the amount of protein recommended for people and for dogs and the best source for it is meat or fish. Marla J. McGeorge, DVM explains that cats need animal protein in order to get all the amino acids they need for natural health. In fact animal protein is the only way they can get the amino acid taurine which is necessary for heart and eye function. Most other animals can make taurine from other amino acids, but cats can’t. Cats also need fats for energy, but don’t get foods with too much fat as it can contribute to them being overweight. Most dry cat foods have around 40% of calories from carbohydrates which can also lead to the cat being overweight and there is no minimum recommended amount of carbs for healthy pets. Read the label on cat foods you buy and look for high protein from meat or fish sources, some fat and low carbs.
Dogs only need to have about 18% protein in their diets and animal protein is the best source for them too. Dogs also can benefit from some vegetables and need healthy fats for energy and for coat, skin, nose and paw pad health. Keep the fats down to about 9% to 15% of their calories daily so that you don’t contribute to an overweight pet. Many pet treats also contain fats, so figure those in too. Carbs are not important for pets like for people. Just like with cats, dogs don’t have a recommended amount of carbs per day. They can use some carbs for energy, but that is not the most important source for the dog’s energy. When choosing dog food, look for protein from meat sources, some healthy fats and low on carbs. Many dog foods are heavy on grains and don’t have enough protein.
When planning for healthy pets, don’t forget water. Clean water every day is an absolute must and if your pet has participated in something extra strenuous, make sure you offer water afterwards.
There are also supplements that can help with the goal of having healthy pets. This powdered algae supplement can be used for people or animals to provide nutrients not provided by regular meals. With 2 forms of AFA bluegreen algae, a blend of 12 strains of live beneficial bacteria and enzymes, and antioxidant rich wheat sprouts, this supplement provides a wide array of micronutrients for general well-being, and the probiotics supply friendly bacteria that are essential to the health and balance of the gastrointestinal tract of both people and animals. Another way to get AFA bluegreen algae, enzymes and probiotics for pet health is with these convenient packets of capsules. If you are traveling or on the go a lot, this may work better than the powder for you and your pet. Antioxidants are a major defense against free radicals that can cause oxidative damage to cells and are partly responsible for negative changes associated with aging and various health problems. This algae supplement contains ingredients with a wide spectrum of antioxidants and provides nutrition that enables the body’s natural stem cells to flourish.
Our pets love treats and in some cases they are necessary for beginning to train your pet. Many pet treats that you buy however don’t support natural health and can add to obesity. Using toys and attention as much as possible to reward a pet is a better solution than treats, but when treats are necessary look for natural treats that are low fat and low in calories. You can also use green beans, baby carrots, apple or pear chunks, or watermelon without seeds as healthy treats. Don’t use stringy veggies or fruits as they can cause digestive problems and get stuck in teeth. Grapes and raisins are also a no-no as they can cause renal failure in dogs and avocados are very toxic for dogs. Milk is also not a good treat for dogs or cats as they can’t break down the lactose like most humans can. Diarrhea, vomiting and other digestive issues can result from your pets drinking milk. For other foods that may be dangerous for your pets, check out the ASPCA or other pet related websites.
We all love our pets and want them to be with us as long as possible. The best way to insure a long happy life for your pet is to follow the steps to support natural health. Read food labels, provide the proper nutrition, make sure your pet gets exercise, keep teeth clean and follow any other recommendations your vet has made specifically for your pet and you’ll have healthy pets to bring you joy for a long time.