Pet Care = Pet Power

Pet Care = Pet Power

Your four-legged friend might just be improving your quality of life. Don’t believe me? Your pets may not consciously take care of you, but having them around can be beneficial. Just owning a pet can improve your overall health and wellness. Owning a dog, for instance, can help increase your physical activity. A four-legged companion can also reduce stress and boost children’s immunity. Petting a cat can actually help to lower your blood pressure!

To learn more about the health benefits of owning a pet, watch the following video from eCards for Health.

Be a Responsible Pet Owner
Of course, welcoming any animal to your family comes with responsibility. As much as having pets contributes to your wellbeing, it’s important to return the favor by ensuring that they’re healthy too. Below are just a few tips for keeping your pets happy and healthy.

 Toxic Eats: What’s Good for Humans May Not Be Good for Pets
One step toward ensuring your pet’s wellbeing is to make sure that toxic foods, chemicals and plants are out of their reach.

Our diets differ greatly from our pets. What tastes good to us may be lethal for a pet. The following are a few no-nos for your family pet:

  • Chocolate. Perhaps the most well-known of all toxic foods, chocolate can be fatal to dogs. It can damage their hearts, nervous systems and urinary systems.
  • Turkey. Raw or undercooked turkey can cause severe food poisoning for a pet.
  • Chicken Bones. It seems like a good idea to give a dog a bone, but chicken bones are brittle and can easily splinter. If swallowed, this can be quite painful for dogs. Chicken bones can even get lodged in their digestive tracts.
  • Ice cream. A small amount may be okay, but your pet isn’t able to break down the lactose in dairy products. This can lead to diarrhea or digestive pain.
  • Bread dough, cake batter or cookie dough. Batter that contains raw eggs can lead to food poisoning, while bread dough can expand in animals’ stomachs. This causes pain and bloating and can even be life-threatening.
  • Alcohol. Beverages that contain alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma and death in your pet.

While both plants and pets are good for people, some plants can pose serious health problems for pets—especially dogs and cats who like to chew. If you’re looking to make your space greener, check to see what plants are poisonous before buying. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) maintains a list of toxic and non-toxic plants.

Some common dangers:

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

You can also try to train your pets to stay away by spraying plants with a mixture of water and hot pepper, but the safest bet is to remove these plants from any area where your pet may reach them.

If you have a pet who has consumed any of the above, don’t try to induce vomiting. Instead, call your veterinarian right away. Different foods call for different treatments.

Children and Pet Safety
It’s not all fun and games when you have a pet; you have to remember that they are still animals. Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are most at risk for being bitten by a dog. Fortunately, teaching young children how to behave around animals as well as training animals how to behave around kids will have positive effects all around.

Both children and pets don’t instinctively know how to act around or treat one another. By following these tips, you can help to make both children and pets safe and healthy.

  • Supervise any interactions between young children and animals.
  • Don’t leave a young child alone with a dog or cat.
  • Instruct your children to never disturb a dog or cat that is eating, sleeping or caring for its young.
  • Make sure your kids know not to tease dogs or cats by taking away toys or by pulling on their tails.

Preparing Your Pet for Children
Of course, children aren’t the only ones who should be instructed how to behave in these situations. Your family pet likely needs training on how to deal with young children. Whether you’re expecting a new baby or inviting a new pet to join the family, 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.)

  • Enroll your dog in a training class to learn basic skills and commands. You may want to take the class too, so that you can always take control.
  • Teach your pet not to jump up on your lap until invited. This way, he or she won’t invade young children’s space.
  • Get your pet spayed or neutered. This will help your pet to be calmer and less likely to bite.

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