Pet Care Equals Pet Power

Pet Care Equals Pet Power

Think your four-legged friend doesn’t have an effect on your health? Think again. Just owning a pet can improve your overall health and wellness. For instance, having 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. As your pet’s presence benefits your wellbeing, it’s important to return the favor. Check out the following tips for ways to help keep your pets happy and healthy.

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

Our diets differ greatly from our pets. Many foods that taste good to us may be lethal for pets. The following are a few 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 systems, 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 animals’ stomachs. This causes pain and bloating and can even be life-threatening.
  • Alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are a big no-no for pets. Alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma and death in your pet.
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. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) maintains a list of toxic and non-toxic plants. leaving site icon

Some common dangers:

  • 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. Always 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 training animals how to behave around kids will be good for all. Use these tips to help keep both 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, the following can help your transition go smoothly. If you are expecting, it’s a good idea to start this training several months before the baby is born.

  • Teach your pet not to jump up on your lap until invited. This way, he or she won’t invade young children’s space.
  • 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.
  • Get your pet spayed or neutered. This will help him or her to be calmer and decrease the urge to bite.

Finally, talk with your veterinarian if you have concerns about your pet’s behavior or questions about any of the above. These experts are available to increase 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, 2021; Teaching Children How to Avoid Dog Bites, leaving site icon American Veterinary Medical Association, 2021; How to Make Your Dog Feel Comfortable in a New Home, leaving site icon The Humane Society of the United States, 2021; Dogs and Babies, leaving site icon The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 2021.

Originally published August 25, 2015; Revised 2017, 2021

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