How Healthy Are Your Pets?

How Healthy Are Your Pets?

Healthy pets mean fewer vet bills, a stronger bond with your animals, and a happier house for you and them. Read on to learn how to keep them healthy.

Weight issues

To see if your pet is overweight, place your hands along its ribs: if you can’t feel them, then your pet is supersized.

To help your pet lose weight

  • Gradually cut down on the amount of food; the recommendations on many pet foods are overly generous, especially for older or less active animals.
  • Keep treats, which can be high in fats, to less than 10 percent of the daily calorie count.
  • Give table scraps sparingly or not at all.

While dry kibble is cheap and convenient, it may not be the best choice. Cats in particular, because of higher protein needs, tend to become overweight on high-carbohydrate dry diets.

Proper nutrition

Consider switching to a more natural diet with fewer fillers, additives, byproducts, and grain ingredients. Many pet and health food stores stock a variety of natural, organic, or holistic pet foods.

Active pets

Turn exercise into play. The extra exercise may also help you stay in shape.

For dogs

  • Aim for a daily walk.
  • Play toss with a ball or Frisbee in a park or your backyard.

For cats

  • Cats do better with smaller periods of concentrated activity.
  • Toss pieces of kibble down the hallway to get them moving.
  • Make or buy an interactive food dispenser that releases kibble when the cat pushes it along the floor.
  • The Ontario SPCA suggests getting your cat to jump and race around by devising feline forms of indoor sports. Turn bathtubs, hardwood floors, and stairways into places where cats can hit, chase, or bat balls and toys around.
  • Get double duty out of the exercise by tying one of your cat’s toys on a string and dragging it around the house yourself, with your cat in hot pursuit.

Grooming

A dry coat with flaky skin or overly oily fur may mean your pet has a dietary imbalance, requiring a change in food or the addition of supplements to its diet. Patches of missing fur or raw, red skin could indicate an allergic reaction, a parasite infestation such as fleas, or overgrooming due to an allergy or anxiety.

Use this time to check your pet’s eyes, ears, and mouth for tearing, discharge, dirt, redness, or any other signs of possible disease. Also check their paws and nails.

A healthy dose of fun

Playing, grooming, or just cuddling with your pet creates a bonding experience and leads to happier and healthier pets and people. So make setting aside some daily doggie or kitty time one of your pet resolutions.

Trips to the vet

Regular wellness checkups allow the vet to know the animal, detect and treat problems early, and answer health or behavioural questions.

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