Pet Care Equals Pet Power

Pet Care Equals Pet Power

Did you know your four-legged friend affects your health? Just owning a pet can improve your overall health and wellness. For instance, a dog can help increase your physical activity. A pet can also reduce stress and even boost your children’s immunity.

Of course, owning a pet comes with responsibility. And just as your pet gifts you with lots of healthy benefits, it’s important to return the favor. Here are ways you can help keep your pets happy and healthy.

Toxic Eats: What’s Good for Humans May Not Be Good for Pets

Food is love for many of us, Still, human diets are very different from our pets' diets. Many foods that taste good to us can be lethal for pets. Make a note of these no-nos for your family pet.

  • Chocolate. Chocolate is likely the most well-known of all toxic foods and can be fatal to dogs. It can damage their nervous and urinary systems, and hearts.
  • Turkey. Pets who eat raw or undercooked turkey can suffer from severe food poisoning.
  • Chicken Bones. It may sound like a good idea to give a dog a bone, but chicken bones splinter easily. This can be quite painful for dogs who swallow them. Chicken bones can even get lodged in their digestive tracts.
  • Ice cream. A small amount may not be harmful, but your pet  can’t digest the lactose in dairy products. This can lead to pain or diarrhea.
  • Bread dough, cake batter or cookie dough. The raw eggs in batter can lead to food poisoning. Meanwhile bread dough can expand in an animal’s stomach. This causes pain and bloating, and can even be life-threatening.
  • Alcohol. No amount of alcohol is okay for pets. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, trouble breathing, tremors, coma and even death.
Plants: Lush, Green and Gorgeous Can Be Dangerous  

Some plants can pose serious health problems for pets – especially dogs and cats who like to chew. To be safe, do a little research before you buy any plant. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) maintains a list of toxic and non-toxic plants. leaving site icon 

Here are a few from the list you need to know:

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

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

Children and Pets: Safety is the Start of a Fun Friendship

Owning a pet isn’t always fun and games. Remember your pet is still an animal. Take precautions when young children are around animals who bite. Teaching young children how to behave around animals and animals how to behave around kids is good for everyone. Use these tips to help keep children and pets safe and healthy.

  • Supervise play or contact between young children and animals.
  • Don’t leave young children unattended with a dog or cat.
  • Teach your children to avoid petting or disturbing a dog or cat that is eating, sleeping or caring for its young.
  • Instruct your kids not to tease dogs or cats by pulling on their tails or by taking away toys.
Help Your Pet Adjust to Family Changes

Whether you’re inviting a new pet to join your family or expecting a new baby, a little preparation can make the transition go more smoothly. If you are expecting, start several months before the baby is born.

  • Teach your pet not to jump up on your lap until invited. This will help keep your pet from invading your child's child’s space.
  • Enroll your dog in a training class to learn basic commands and skills. You may want to take the class too, so you can always take control.
  • Get your pet spayed or neutered. This will help your pet be calmer and reduce the urge to bite.

Finally, talk with your veterinarian if you have questions or any concerns about your pet’s behavior. As animal experts, vets want to help ensure your pet’s wellbeing.

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

Sources: Poisonous Plants, leaving site icon  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 2023; Teaching Children How to Avoid Dog Bites, leaving site icon  American Veterinary Medical Association, 2023; How to Make Your Dog Feel Comfortable in a New Home, leaving site icon  The Humane Society of the United States, 2023; Dogs and Babies, leaving site icon  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 2022

Originally published August 25, 2015; Revised 2017, 2021, 2023