Keep your pet happy and healthy! Health and happiness go hand in hand and it will enable your pet to live a long life with you. You love your buddy endlessly and want to do the best you can for them. Read on to find out what you need to focus on in order to hold on to your beloved friend as long as you can!
Of course, we all know that we need to feed our pets to keep them alive. However, feeding them is not enough. We need to know what to feed them, how much food they should eat, and what ingredients are best for their overall health. Additionally, you need to provide your pet with water as well.
There are a variety of foods on the market for both cats and dogs. First, there is wet food and dry food. Personally, I prefer to use dry food. It helps keep their teeth clean of tartar and it provides enough fiber to keep their bowels firm and regular. I have found that wet food leads to mushy and runny poop that is difficult for my dogs to pass. Therefore, my dogs will primarily eat dry dog food. However, I do occasionally mix in some wet food into their bowls as a special treat from time to time. It’s all about balance : )
Measuring your pet’s food is key as well. If you have a dog or cat with a voracious appetite, you will need to restrict their food (meals and treats!) intake to keep their weight in check. Having an overweight dog or cat might look cute, but it is not healthy for their joints. Moreover, obesity can also lead to other illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer. Thus, a healthy weight can extend your pet’s life span.
A point to note is that there are some dogs who have ‘drinking problems’ so to speak. Meaning, the more water you give them access to, the more they will drink regardless of how thirsty they are. This is really only an issue of continence. The more they drink, the more they will have to urinate. Thus, the ‘drinking problem’ could lead to accidents in your home which nobody wants to deal with.
Providing your dog and cat with the ability to exercise will maintain a healthy weight. As stated in the feeding section, keeping your dog (and cat) at an optimal weight is necessary to avoid unnecessary issues like arthritis that can affect their hips and backs. Further, as humans benefit from physical activity, your pets do as well. Keeping the body moving aids in digestion, lowering blood pressure, and keeps your pets feeling happy – think of all the endorphins they release when exerting themselves!
There are many forms of exercise that you can offer your dog or cat. The most common dog exercise is walking, of course. This also includes hiking, running, and don’t forget their favorite game ever, FETCHING! Even if your retriever doesn’t actually retrieve, they do love a good chase after a toy!
And cats can exercise too. Maybe walking on leash isn’t something you want to try, however, you can get a laser pointer and have them chase after it on a daily basis. That game never gets old! The stimulation and activity really does their body good and will keep them around longer. It’s a win-win.
Affection can keep your pet happy and healthy. It is no surprise that belly rubs will make your dog happy, but you might not realize that their happiness keeps their mental health in check. Mental health is a very important factor that can increase or decrease one’s physical health.
So go ahead and offer cuddles, petting, and even brushing your pet’s coat as a way of showing him/her how much you care for them. And, hey, they can never get enough attention, right? Well, maybe your cat can get TOO much, so it might be best to limit their affection to a nominal amount!
Socializing your dog is somewhat of an extension of how Affection contributes to health and happiness. Properly socializing your pup from an early age will increase their ability to handle different situations. For example, if you expose them to the outside world and keep your composure as you consistently walk by garbage trucks, people or dogs passing by, loud noises, etc, they will learn that those things are normal occurrences and they won’t be stressed out. As a result, their anxiety levels will remain under control. Less stress is better for their health.
Socialization also translates to exposing your dog to other dogs. Dogs are pack animals and crave interaction with humans, but they also crave interaction with their canine counterparts. It is extremely important for dogs to play with doggie friends. Can you imagine never being around other humans? I mean, at times it might not be a bad thing, but what if you were never around other humans? Certainly, it wouldn’t be good for your psyche. It is not good for your dog’s mental health either. And remember what we talked about with mental health contributing to physical health.
Cat Need Socialization Too
And let’s not forget about our cats. Cats need socialization as well. Albeit, their social exposure will be a lot different than dogs. However, cats should be exposed to people like your family and friends, if they visit. Of course, cats are not as social as dogs so you want to offer them the chance to be around people, but you do not want to push their limits and stress them out by forcing them be social. Exposing them to different situations is crucial. Although most cats remain in the house, there are those infrequent times that they go to the vet or a groomer. Plus, there is also the chance that you might go on vacation and need to hire a pet sitter for your cat. If your cat has been socialized, these instances will lessen their stress, thus, keeping them healthy.
Grooming is essential to your pet’s health. While a great haircut makes your dog super cute and irresistibly snuggle-worthy, their good looks aren’t the only benefit. First and foremost, keeping up with grooming means that your dog will be clean! Yes, a good bath gets all the yucky dirt, debris, and dead skin cells out of their coat. The result is silky, smooth fur that is soft to the touch. Can you imagine not taking a shower on a regular basis? The oil that builds up and the funk that you would accumulate over time would be sickening…not to mention the smell! Granted, your dog does not need to be bathed daily, in fact, that would actually affect them negatively by drying out their skin. There are a few different ways that grooming will keep your pet happy and healthy. Let’s talk about this further.
Grooming also consists of brushing your pet’s fur to keep it free from mattes. Mattes are hair that has become tangled together so much that it doesn’t resemble regular fur. They are painful and can be dangerous. Mattes can trap bacteria which can lead to constant licking/scratching which then leads to hot spots. And if you know anything about hot spots, you understand the effort it takes to overcome them – bandages, sometimes the cone of shame, antibiotics, and constantly monitoring your dog to “leave it”!
Finally, grooming also includes keeping your pet’s nails trimmed. The longer their toenails, the more pressure and discomfort they feel as they walk. This can affect the way your pets walk which can strain their leg muscles or back. Additionally, the nails can actually get so long that they start growing into their pads – OUCH! Nail trimming is extremely important if your dogs aren’t able to wear down them down naturally. For more information regarding this important topic, read further at the Muddy Paws Blog.
Preventative wellness exams are important for everyone, including your pets. These wellness exams consist of can detect issues that are preventable such as periodontal and eye issues, ear infections, etc. Further, at these physicals, vets can spot signs of early symptoms to serious problems. This is crucial to your pet’s health. Treatment is most effective at the early stages of any illness versus implementing later in the prognosis.
Additionally, vaccinations are administered at wellness exams. Although vaccinations are somewhat controversial these days, many states require dogs and cats to be vaccinated for Rabies. Other vaccinations can keep your pets healthy and prevent fatal issues, however, those vaccinations are generally not required by the state. Rather, they are a personal choice that owners can discuss with their veterinarians as to whether or not their pet needs each one.
Spaying & Neutering
Spaying and neutering your pets isn’t just a personal decision to keep them from having babies. Having your pets spayed and neutered provides essential benefits to your pet’s health and happiness. Hormones are not something that are inside of humans. Animals have hormones as well. And these hormones work in similar ways, thus, dogs and cats have the ability to reproduce. Keeping the pet population down, most dogs and cats should not be allowed to mate.
Of course, the biggest benefit of spaying and neutering your pets is to eliminate the possibility of pregnancies. Most of us pet parents are not looking to become breeders. Reputable breeders have a lot of responsibility and do not get into their line of work to get rich. There are many costs associated with mating dogs. So seeing as though we want to care for our pets the best we can and are not interested in breeding, spaying and neutering out pets is what we need to be responsible pet owners. Reducing unwanted pregnancies will result from spaying and neutering. Thus, we will not have to rehome “surprise” puppies or kittens!
Spaying and neutering has become somewhat of a controversial subject similar to vaccinations. The controversy mainly is around when to spay or neuter. Some vets believe that around 6 months of age is perfectly safe. While other vets may recommend holding off until the dogs are over 2 years of age. Regardless of when to spay and neuter, veterinarians are in agreement that doing so reduces the risk of cancer in females and cancer and hernias in males. Thus, the life of your pets can actually be extended by having them spayed and neutered!
Mental Well Being
Spaying and neutering not only has physical health benefits, but it can also provide mental and behavioral benefits as well. Some of the benefits are reduced aggression in males. Such aggressive tendencies can include territorial aggression and assertion of dominance. The reason being that their testosterone levels are high, when they are intact. Thus, many males have an overload of machismo so to speak. This can spark fights with other dogs. And that can lead to a plethora of issues. Further, having these hormones raging and not being able to release themselves, it can lead to mental instability which can lead to excessive humping. This can be quite embarrassing, not to mention annoying. Additionally, it is not only a form of sexual frustration, but also a way your dog exhibits his dominance. We do not want dogs to be in control of their humans!
For females, being spayed prevents them from going into heat. Most of the dogs the female dogs in heat (who I have been around) are not necessarily affected in terms of needing to mate. However, the males around them are! Animal instinct is very real. When a female goes into heat, the males take note and will do almost anything to get to her! There are some female dogs, however, who, when in heat, exhibit irritability, whining, and will likely need to urinate more often.
Of course, safety and training will keep your pet happy and healthy. Safety and training consists of of many different things. It can include basics like having your pets wear a collar with identification tags in case they get lost, someone will know where they belong. They can’t talk after all! Along those lines, microchips can be extremely helpful if your pet goes missing. If found, a vet could scan them for their chip and then find you! Technology can be amazing at times.
Safety can also include other things such as pet-proofing your home so that they cannot get into things that will harm them. These can include household cleaning products, food items like chocolate and xylitol (found in sugar-free gum which can be lethal for dogs), grapes, raisins, etc. A great way to keep your dog safe from household dangers is crate training. Check out more about the subject here.
Training is super important to keeping your pet happy and healthy as well. Basic training like training your dog to sit and stay can literally save their life! Yes, it’s true. When crossing the street, you can’t have your dog jumping into traffic, right? These basic training commands can be the difference between happy and healthy and detrimental! The better trained your dog is, the easier it will be to keep him/her safe in many situations. Building on basic training will not only provide you with peace of mind and keep your pet safe, but it will also stimulate your dog to focus on learning the way to behave. Again, mental health is crucial to their physical health!
Now that you have a great understanding of how to keep your pets happy and healthy, I’m sure you see that many of the things you have been doing are what you need to do. That’s a great thing, right? There are some other nuggets of information that you know you should be doing, but haven’t yet incorporated those things into your pet’s routine just yet. That’s okay. As long as you do as much as you can, for as long as you can, you will ultimately keep your pets healthy and happy. Thus, your best friend has a great chance at living their best life possible for as long as possible!