Tips to Keep Your Pet Happy and Healthy
Our pets give us unconditional love. In turn, it’s our job to keep them healthy and happy.
Food is medicine for pets, just like for humans, says Sarah Reidenbach, DVM, a Northern California veterinarian and CEO of the nonprofit Ruthless Kindness. If your dog or cat’s diet lacks certain vitamins and minerals, the nutritional deficit can manifest as hair loss, skin infections, or noticeable laziness, she says.
With so many pet food choices available – wet, dry, refrigerated, home cooked, grain free – how do you know which one is best for your furry friend? “It’s completely overwhelming,” admits Reidenbach. “Really, what works for your pet is your guiding principle.”
She recommends that you check the packaging to make sure the brand meets the standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which certifies that the feed contains a balanced diet.
Stick to the recommended serving size and don’t give in to those sad puppy eyes when your pet asks for treats. Obese cats and dogs can contract the same chronic diseases as overweight humans, including diabetes and arthritis.
Exercise is essential for the physical health and mental stimulation of your pet. But unlike humans, there are no guidelines on how much activity they need. Different breeds have different requirements, says Reidenbach. You can get an idea of your pet’s activity level when you play together. “Certain races and personalities definitely need more stimulation than walking,” she adds.
If you have an energetic dog, try an agility class or take your dog with you for a hike, skate, or swim. For more of a bonding experience, do a downward facing dog with your real dog during an in-person or online yoga class. Just make sure your dog is behaving well enough to stay by your side for the entire class.
Cats aren’t the best walking companions, but you can still prevent them from becoming too sedentary by making play a part of everyday life. “Most cats love toys that remind them of prey – things like dangling feathers or little fabric mice,” suggests Reidenbach.
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