Pet Care = Pet Power

Pet Care = Pet Power

As if greeting you at the door every time you come home wasn’t enough, here’s another reason to appreciate your pet. It turns out that pet ownership can improve your overall health and wellness. Having a dog, for instance, can help increase your physical activity. What’s more, a pet can also reduce stress and even boost children’s immunity.

For more information on the health advantages of owning a pet, watch this video from eCards for Health

Be a Responsible Pet Owner
Of course, owning a pet isn’t all fun and games. It’s important to be a responsible pet owner and ensure that you’re keeping them safe and healthy too. Below are some tips to help improve your pets’ health.

 Toxic Eats: Why Table Scraps Should Be Off Limits
A big step toward ensuring your pet stays healthy is making sure that toxic foods, chemicals and plants are not kept in your household (or at least, not within reach).

A healthy diet for us humans varies greatly from your pets’. Many foods that taste good to us may be lethal for them. The following are a few foods you shouldn’t share:

  • Chocolate. Perhaps the most widely known all toxic foods, chocolate can be fatal to dogs . It can damage their urinary systems, nervous systems and hearts.
  • Poultry. Your pets may beg for raw or undercooked meat, but poultry that hasn’t been properly cooked can cause severe food poisoning.
  • Chicken Bones. You may be tempted to give your dog a bone to chew, but chicken bones can easily splinter, leading to pain if swallowed.
  • Ice cream. Pets have trouble digesting the lactose in dairy products. While small amount may not be harmful, more can lead to pain or diarrhea.
  • Bread dough, cake batter or cookie dough. Bread dough can painfully expand in animals’ stomachs while the raw eggs in batter can lead to food poisoning.
  • Alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma and death in your pet.

If you have a dog or cat who likes to chew, you may want to do a little research before bringing a plant home.While many plants are harmless, some can pose serious health problems for pets. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) maintains a list of toxic and non-toxic plants.
Some common dangers:

  • Geraniums are toxic to dogs and cats and may cause depression and vomiting.
  • Lilies are highly toxic to cats and may cause kidney failure.
  • Yucca plants are toxic to dogs and cats and may cause diarrhea and vomiting.

If you have a pet who has consumed a toxic food or plant listed above, or you have concerns, call your veterinarian right away.

Children and Pet Safety
Although they feel like members of the family, it’s important to remember that your pet is still an animal. Take extra precautions when young children are near animals who bite. The following tips can help to keep both children and pets safe and healthy.

  • Teach children not to disturb a dog or cat that is sleeping, eating or caring for its young.
  • Supervise play or contact between animals and young children.
  • Don’t leave young children unattended with a dog or cat.
  • Instruct your kids not to taunt dogs or cats by pulling on their tails or by taking away their food or toys.

Training Your Pet to Interact with Children
Of course, children aren’t the only ones who can learn how to behave in these situations. Your family pet can be trained to deal with young children. Whether you’re inviting a new pet to join the family or expecting a new baby, the following can help your transition go smoothly. (Note: if you are expecting, it’s a good idea to start this training several months before the baby is born.)

  • Get your pet spayed or neutered. This will help him or her to act more calmly and reduce the urge to bite.
  • Teach your pet to wait for an invitation before jumping up on your lap. This way, he or she will be less likely to jump on young children.
  • Enroll your dog in a training class to learn basic commands and skills. You may want to take the class too, so that you can always take control.

Finally, talk with your veterinarian if you have concerns about your pet’s behavior or questions about any of the above information. These experts are available to help improve your pet’s wellbeing.

What pets do you have? Tell us your best pet story in the comments below!

Most recent update: 9/30/2017

Sources: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), American Veterinary Medical Association, The Humane Society of the United States