Whether it’s a dog, cat, bird, or any other furry companion – pets are part of the family.
However, unlike other family members (for the most part), they rely on you to keep them healthy and satisfied! That’s what Chief Emergency Veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Greenstein is here to help us with – tips and recommendations to keep our loving companions happy, safe, and to give them the longest life possible.
Don’t share your diet with your dog
The vast majority of commercial pet foods meet all the requirements that animals need for nutrition, whether that be fat, minerals, protein and nutrients. Even worse is the ‘raw’ diet that many people think is helping their pets, but in reality is exposing them to much higher risks of E. Coli and salmonella poisoning.
Be careful with the table scraps
If you’re sharing human food with your pets, make sure it doesn’t contain toxic ingredients like onions or garlic! While supplementing a pets diet with meat isn’t always problematic, introducing new proteins can be an allergic trigger for some animals. If your pet starts to experience a rash or stomach issues, it could be from some new meat in their diet.
Be cautious of fatty foods and treats
While peanut butter is usually okay for four legged friends, dogs can’t metabolize fats the same way humans do. If you’re feeding them a lot of fatty foods or treats, it could cause stomach problems for them, even developing into something much more serious like pancreatitis.
Avoid too much exercise
While taking your dog for a walk is great to reduce cardiovascular disease, combat boredom, and increase mental/social stimulation, a long trek can actually do more harm than good. Extremely long walks or arduous exercise can be hard on their furry joints, even leading to conditions like arthritis later in life. Softer surfaces and underwater exercise are both great alternatives that still expend energy without the long-lasting consequences.
Protect your outdoor cat
There are always dangers associated with letting your cats outdoors, from raccoons and coyotes to cars that might not be paying attention. To minimize the risk, try not to let them out of your sight for long periods of time – Dr. Greenstein recommends confining them to a fenced backyard as a happy medium. Also, letting them out after dark is a no for obvious reasons! When your cat does come inside, make sure to examine them for wounds or limping – picking up on important sings like these will let you know if your feline is getting into too much trouble on their outdoor adventures.
Take care of their teeth
Almost 90% of dogs and cats over the age of three have some sort of dental disease – yup, you heard that right, 90%! Dental health is way more important for our furry friends than most people realize, as these diseases can lead to kidneys or heart issues. Make sure your pets are getting checkups and preventative dental cleaning to help them stay as healthy as possible.
Canines aren’t immune to skin cancer, and so it’s important to make sure they are protected before a sunbathing session. Apply a vet-approved sunscreen to help reduce their sunburn and cancer risk!
Don’t forget to groom
Cats, as they age, tend to groom themselves less and less. It’s a great idea to brush your cat – not only is a great bonding experience, but it also decreases the risk of infection that comes with matted fur. While grooming should still be done in moderation to help preserve your animal’s skin oils, it can be an incredibly beneficial practice to keep your pet healthy and happy.