Posts Tagged ‘pet health’
I am frequently asked this question by parents who want to make their children happy but are unaware of or apprehensive about many of the aspects of pet ownership. My response to their question is nearly always “ A pet can be a wonderful addition to the family” with the disclaimer that the parents will almost always end up supervising and assuming the ultimate responsibility for the care and well being of the pet. No matter how kind-hearted, precocious, compassionate and well-intentioned, children are, well, “ children” who can be easily distracted, unfocused, unreliable, irresponsible and preoccupied with the demands of daily life including school, extracurricular activities, socializing, homework, household chores, and so on. They may love animals and want to take care of them, but, in reality, the likelihood of a child between the age of five and ten assuming full care of a dog is simply unrealistic. However, the decision to adopt a dog and incorporate it into your family’s life can result in one of life’s most joyous, enriching, satisfying and rewarding experiences.
Before adopting a dog, numerous family discussions should be held regarding the various facets, dimensions and responsibilities associated with pet ownership. Research should be conducted about the pros and cons of dog ownership. Your and your kids may love animals, but because of academic, athletic activities and other obligations, you may simply not have the time for the interaction, socialization and obedience training a dog requires. Information and opinions should be freely shared. Families need to understand that their lives will be forever changed/transformed as a result of bringing a pet into their homes. Various dog breeds and their physical as well as personality characteristics should be thoroughly studied and investigated to determine if a dog is right for you and your family, and if it is, figure out which kind of dog is best suited and most compatible with your family’s lifestyle. Personalities of each family member should be taken into consideration to determine who will assume which responsibilities associated with the pet’s care, feeding and exercise needs.
Above all, it is important to carefully think about the decision to adopt a pet. Here are some questions to ask that will help you determine if it is right for you to adopt a dog.
1). Can you afford the costs associated with a pet? Vaccinations, spay/neuter, adoption fee, visits to the vet for check-ups, dog food, doggie meds, toys, accessories, leash, collar, doggie bowls, travel kennels, identification tag and microchippng.
2). Do you have physical space for a dog –a place where he can sleep, play and eat in comfort, safety and security?
3). Is it legal for you to have a pet in your apartment, home or community?
4). Do you have the time to interact, exercise and play with the dog?
5). Do you have time and are you willing to walk a dog at least several times a day?
6). What is the ideal age and sex of the animal you would consider adopting – those that are most suitable to your lifestyle?
7). Are you willing to feed the animal two or three times a day and provide it with fresh water several times daily?
8). Are you willing to socialize the dog and teach it basic obedience skills so that it will obey you and be a well-behaved, well-mannered member of your family?
9). Will you be able to bathe and groom your dog regularly?
10). Will you be able to accommodate the dog’s activity level and any destructive behaviors he may exhibit?
11). Will you be able to housetrain your pet?
12). Will you be able to discipline your pet without any physical or verbal abuse?
13). Will you always walk your pet on-leash and never off-leash unless he is in a safely fenced in area from which he cannot get out?
14). Will you be able to teach your children discipline, responsibility and compassion and respect for a pet you adopt?
15). Will you respect and appreciate and lovingly commit a lifetime of care for a dog that may become old, frail or ill and will eventually die?
16). Will you provide a “forever” home for your animal regardless of what may happen to you? In other words, will you make arrangements to provide care for the rest of your pet’s life with friends, neighbors, family members, etc?
If you ask yourself these questions and answer them thoughtfully and honestly, you will know whether you should adopt a dog. A dog is precious and sentient and to be valued, appreciated and respected. The responsibilities associated with dog ownership are varied and many; however, the joy, wisdom, love and companionship of a furry friend are indescribable and immeasurable. To give your children the gift of a dog is to give them one of life’s greatest treasures.
Every dog deserves a healthy diet and balanced nutritional program. What is the best food for your dog? This will depend upon your pet’s age, size, overall health, activity level, ancestry, breed characteristics and weight. An exam followed by a detailed consultation with your veterinarian will help you to determine the best (healthiest) food plan for your dog. Does your pet have any health issues that may require or benefit from a specialized diet? Is he overweight? Does he have digestive problems? Does he have kidney, liver or heart disease? Does he suffer from osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia? If so, he may have nutritional needs that may not only keep her healthy but alive!
As you may surmise, a healthy diet is in and of itself not enough to keep your pet happy and healthy. He may require medication and/or vitamins or supplements. He requires plenty of good, clean, fresh water. He also requires exercise, playtime, and interaction. He will also need to be obedience trained and socialized so that he will be a happy, healthy, loved and well behaved member and representative of your family.
So what is the best food for your dog? Actually, it is the fresh food you buy at the grocery store for yourself and other family members. Fresh chicken, turkey, beef and fish are as good for your pets as they are for you! Don’t confuse these fresh foods (which benefit many living creatures) with such people “food” as table scraps, ice cream, cookies, candies, pizza, hot dogs, French Fries, barbecued ribs etc.) Fresh food can include yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, eggs and brown rice- even fruit such as apple or orange slices, bits of banana or veggies such as carrots or green beans.
Keep in mind that up until the 1930’s when cereal and grain manufacturers bean to seek to make a profit out of their inferior or rejected grains and cereals (those deemed of insufficient quality for humans), dogs were fed real meat and vegetables and a little homemade bread – a diet on which they thrived. Much of the dog kibble (which is processed and artificial) as we know it today was created for the benefit and profit of the cereal and grain industries and pet food industries. It allowed them to make money out of “inferior” products. Many of the canned meat and meat byproducts sold as dog food have existed almost entirely for the profitability of meat and pet food corporations.
I highly suggest that you as consumer and pet guardian carefully examine the ingredients of all packaged and canned pet foods. Do they contain chemicals, artificial flavorings and ingredients? Do they contain corn, wheat, soybeans, artificial flavorings which can prove dangerous to your pet – chemicals- any of which can contribute to your pet’s chronic digestive problems such as vomiting, gassiness, diarrhea or loose stools? These ingredients can also result in other health-related problems including skin and also behavioral issues. There are plenty of wonderful pet foods (dry and wet). available in the market. It is up to you and your vet to determine which are of greatest benefit and value to your particular pet.
Many pet food manufacturers create healthy, natural, fresh and nutritional products. It is important for us to find out which are the most beneficial and those that are least nutritionally beneficial for our canine companions. The heartbreaking and massive pet food recalls that occurred several years ago remind us that we must do our homework and conduct our own research as to which diets and foods are healthiest for our pets. We cannot simply accept the “information” provided through heartwarming television or radio commercials or magazine ads informing us that certain pet foods will improve the health and in increase the longevity of our pets’ lives. We really have to pay attention and think for ourselves!
Like our human children, and us our pets deserve wholesome, nutritious, fresh and healthy foods. They are vulnerable and depend upon us to find it and feed it to them. As their caregivers, we owe it to them to pay attention not only to their dietary needs, but also to their nutritional requirements, medical, physical and weight management needs. After all, we do exercise “dominion” – meaning care of and responsibility for the needs and well being of our animal companions.
In light of the fact that obesity is assuming alarming and epidemic proportions not only for humans but for our canine friends, it is important to address the issue of proper nutrition for our furry friends before serious health issues arise as a result of poor nutrition and inadequate exercise. Beyond nutrition, the importance of regular exercise for human and canine cannot be overemphasized.
However well-intentioned we may be in providing the best care for our animal companions, it is always advisable to conduct our own research as well as consult with a reputable, well-respected and knowledgeable veterinarian as to the “best” nutritional program for your particular pets. Just like human beings, each pet is unique and requires individual care pertaining to his or her size, weight, breed characteristics, heritage and ancestry, overall health and well being and personality, exercise regimen, etc.
Each pet requires consistent and on-going veterinary care – including regular visits to the vet (not just in an emergency or crisis situation). They require spay/neuter as well as physical examinations and their vaccinations. As they are examined, it is important for you (as your pet’s caregiver) to describe your pet’s physical condition, problems or any health issues that you may have observed. Does your pet limp? Pant? Breathe heavily? Have digestive problems? Walk with difficulty or hesitation? Have difficulty breathing? Tire easily even though not old? Your vet will more than likely be happy to address and suggest a proper nutritional and exercise program that will increase your pet’s longevity and improve his health and quality of life. He/she will take into consideration the age and lifestyle of your dog and help determine the diet best suited for your dog’s health and happiness.
It would be easy to believe that there is one superior pet food or diet that would fulfill all of your pet’s nutritional needs. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As is with the case of people. no one particular diet suits all pets. Your individual pet’s needs must be carefully considered in light of your pet’s age, background and overall health and well being.
Overall, your pet needs certain vitamin and nutrition, and a food that will be easily and well digested without any health consequences. Your pet may not need but generally will enjoy a varied diet – just as you do. Think in terms of your own health and enjoyment of healthy meals. Your pet should be fed a diet specially formulated for his age, breed, size and health history. For example, if he has kidney failure, there are appropriate diets that can help him therapeutically to limit the pain of his disease and prolong the quality of his life.
There is also danger in feeding your pet the “wrong” diet. It is important to give your pet a breed and age appropriate diet and also a special one designed for a dog that is pregnant, anemic or allergic or one who has kidney or liver failure, heart disease or other significant health issues. Therapeutic dies generally contain higher quality ingredients and have tighter quality control. Because they are intended for pets with special health issues, these diets are available through veterinary health professionals and should be administered under veterinary care.
If your pet is overweight, consult with your veterinarian as your pet’s obesity can be responsible for a number of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, liver and kidney disease, endocrine and intestinal problems, cancer, etc. Certain diets, typically those higher in fiber and lower in fat, can help keep obesity in check. Generally, diet and exercise are the keys to helping your pet maintain a healthy and well balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.
Is Your Dog Overweight?
You may have suspected it, but a visit to the veterinarian with your dogs confirms the fact that your beautiful canine is overweight. Actually, you shouldn’t be too surprised as obesity in our pets, just as obesity in humans has reached epic proportions. You have done your best to feed your dog a healthy and nutritious diet, yet; somehow, you have provided her with more than the daily intake of calories she requires. You may have provided too little activity or exercise. You may have given her extra treats as “rewards” for good behavior or simply to make her happy. Any which way, it is time to deal with the inevitable – placing your dog on a healthy diet, exercise regimen and nutritional program. Proper nutrition will enhance your dog’s longevity as well as her quality of life.
Obesity is the most common nutritional problems veterinarians encounter in dogs and cats today. Being overweight can result in a wide variety of serious health problems for your pet, including heart disease, urinary problems, arthritis, cancer, endocrine issues and cancer. Overweight dogs are at higher risk in surgery, more prone to injury and experience greater stress on their hearts, livers, kidneys and joints. Excess weight can worsen respiratory problems and exacerbate osteoarthritis. Excess weight can lead to diabetes mellitus and generally diminish the overall quality of your pet’s life. Obesity can also decrease your pet’s life expectancy. Obesity is an issue that necessitates serious thought and consideration as well as change in your pet’s lifestyle.
The lives of our pets are generally shorter than our own. Therefore, if we are hoping for our pet to live a long, happy and healthy life, it is imperative that we provide our pets with a healthy lifestyle, sound nutritional program and a regular exercise regimen. It is as important for our pets to eat healthily and exercise frequently as it is for us as human beings. Once we have made the decision to adopt a pet, the animal is ours to care for until its death. We are the one and only caregiver of our vulnerable and trusting canine or feline friend, companion and beloved family member. Our pet’s life is completely dependent upon us. We are responsible for her overall care, health and well being.
To assess whether Fido really is “fat”, note the following:
Have your pet examined by your veterinarian. Consult with him or her to determine what weight loss regimen is most effective and beneficial for her.
If your vet puts Fido on a diet, do your best to adhere to the requirements of this health plan:
Limit the amount of food and snacks he gets;
Cut back the amount of kibble in his food bowl;
Feed healthy snacks if you “must” give him any at all: choose green beans, carrots or other low-calorie vegetables, unbuttered popcorn, organic or apple slices, etc. as per the advice of your vet;
Watch the fat content of the food you are purchasing & look for a diet with similar ingredients but fewer calories;
Watch the fat content in the food you buy’
Check the supplements you use for value & caloric quantity;
Keep Fido away from the dining table at meal time so that there is no temptation to your pet to beg or for you & your kids to give him unhealthy, fattening snacks.
Exercise your pet gradually and with the advice/consultation of your vet. Short sessions of low or moderate activity are a great way to begin this program i.e. a walk around the block, a regular obedience class or obedience routine are good ways to begin your pet’s exercise regimen.
Obesity affects approximately 25 percent of the U.S. canine population. Make certain that your dog is not a member of this population. Keep him healthily fed and exercised. Take no chances with your best friend’s health. Give him your love and a healthy dose of nutritional well-being and daily exercise.