Pet Health, Your Health
Medically Edited and Reviewed by Dr. Erin Zinkhan MD, BSBE
Family. Best friend. Partner in crime.
No matter how you view your feline or canine companion, your pet's health is important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that pets improve our health. Keeping your pet healthy will help keep you healthy too.
The CDC reports that dogs enhance the social, emotional, and cognitive development of children. For adults, dogs reduce stress and can boost activity levels through walks, games of fetch, and even friendly bouts of tug-of-war. The CDC notes that cats are similarly beneficial, providing emotional support and mood-enhancing companionship. Cats offer tremendous socialization benefits for the homebound or disabled, therefore boosting morale.
So, how do you keep your pets' health from getting into "ruff" shape?
Exercising your pet
Leisurely park strolls or vigorous swims are a great place to start. Beyond increased physical activity for you -- and all the accompanying benefits -- the impact of activity on pets' health is tremendous. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that a staggering 54% of U.S. dogs and cats are overweight or obese. Although fluffy kitties and plump puppies seem cute and extra cuddly, weight problems can usher in joint problems, kidney disease, ligament injury, and a shorter life. Pet obesity also impacts quality of life issues for you both. It's no fun watching a pet struggle to jump onto a favorite spot on the couch.
Starting small is easy
The right accessories can make a big difference in comfort, convenience, and safety while keeping you and your pet active. For example, the PupLight and Visiglo Nylon Collars improve visibility with bright lighting during walks. If the thought of carrying a water bottle and dog doo bags is off-putting, consider the all-in-one Water Walker Leash. This handy unit contains an integrated serving tray, water bottle and built-in bag dispenser to minimize clutter and hassle.
Since we're on the topic of food, Vitality Medical would like to point out that how you feed your pet is extremely important. Placing water and food dishes on the floor can be quite a strain for older dogs and for larger dog breeds. For example, the manufacturers of the Our Pets Healthy Diner claim that elevated pet dishes provide the proper feeding ergonomics for your large pet that aid digestion and posture. Minimizing excessive stooping also reduces joint stress. Elderly dogs or those with bone or joint ailments may have an easier time eating and drinking from an elevated dish. If joint health is already a health concern for your pet, nutrient-dense supplements such as Zuke's Hip Action Daily Hip and Joint Support Treat For Dogs can bolster hip and joint health. Talk to your veterinarian about what supplements may be appropriate for your pet.
Rover on the road
Car safety is another overlooked aspect of pet -- and guardian -- health. While it may seem compassionate or "fun" to keep your pet close to you in the car, the results from even a minor accident can be tragic for your unrestrained pet. Airbags typically inflate within 25-50 milliseconds -- nearly 200 MPH! Airbags work in concert with seat belts for humans, meaning that the seat belt keeps you back away from the airbag. The life-protecting force from an airbag deploying could be fatal for unrestrained dogs or cats or for those tethered in the front passenger seat. Moreover, an unrestrained dog could harm the humans in the car during an impact.
Fortunately, several companies have cost-effective workarounds that let you and your pet ride comfortably. The Midwest Universal Wire Barrier gate is ideal if staining and upholstery tears are concerns. The barrier fits behind the second or third row of five-door vehicles, such as crossovers, minivans, wagons, and hatchbacks. The wire barrier prevents large dogs from climbing on occupants, distracting drivers, and being injured by an airbag during a head-on, side, or off-set collision. Alternatively, the Bergan Travel Harness secures pets to the backseat. The harness will withstand forces generated from sudden stops. Consider these products also to be a form of accident avoidance by keeping pets from distracting drivers or blocking access to driving controls, such as pedals and shift levers.
While the barriers and harnesses sound wonderful in theory, many pets may experience separation anxiety and excessively cry during car trips. Several veterinarians and animal behavioral specialists suggest starting small by getting your pet accustomed to a stationary vehicle before progressing to short trips. During this process, guardians may need help calming nervous pets. This is where herbal supplements such as Ark Naturals Happy Traveler for Dogs and Cats Anti Anxiety Herbal Formula may help. The formula contains valerian, German chamomile, L-Tryptophan and St. John's Wort. which all are reputed for their calming properties. Talk to your veterinarian about whether supplements may help calm your pet's travel anxiety.
While your dog's goofiness or cat's calming presence may pull on your heartstrings, your pet also helps to improve your health. According to the CDC, pets can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Your feline or canine's wellness, physical health and car safety are truly an extension of your own! Making the right choice can ensure years of fun and rewarding companionship.
Here's to a life full of Vitality!
- CDC Healthy Pets Healthy People -- Dogs
- CDC Healthy Pets Healthy People -- Cats
- CDC -- Healthy Pets Healthy People