Monday, November 5, 2012
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
The end of winter is just around the corner as we've enjoyed some GLORIOUS warm, sunny days. As we look forward to warmer days, greening grass, and blooming flowers we can help our pets and ourselves become healthier and more rejuvenated by getting outdoors.
Exercise is as important for our pet’s health as it is for our own. Many dogs, especially those of the herding and hunting breeds, need activity to keep them both physically and emotionally healthy. Working dogs can get bored without a job. Activity stimulates their physical muscles and their mental abilities. For example, weaving through poles and running through tunnels in agility training engages a dog’s mind and body. Playing fetch or going swimming also stimulates the body and brain. Even walking and allowing your dog to explore the grasses and trees provides it with activity that stimulates the senses. Without exercise, a dog can become not just bored, but also destructive, chewing on furniture or digging up the yard.
Senior dogs may not need as much activity as younger ones or more active breeds, but they still need some exercise. Often, a simple walk around the neighborhood will suffice. Walking is great exercise for both human and animal, and partaking of spring’s flavorful sights and sounds stimulates the mind as well as the muscles in both you and your dog.
Perhaps running is more your sport. Many dogs, such as labs and border collies, also benefit from a jog or run. These types of dogs need more active exercise than a short walk around the block, and the companionship you’ll share on such an outing helps cement the dog-human bond. Hook your pet’s leash to your wrist and jog on out there!
Whether it’s an hour playing fetch, two hours on the agility course, or a short jaunt around the neighborhood, activity adds up to a more enjoyable day for your pooch – and for yourself!
Cats, too, need exercise. My mother would take her cat, J.J., on a walk around the house on a leash. J.J. enjoyed these strolls, hearing the birds sing and rolling around in the vegetable garden’s dirt. She and mom would sit together under the weeping birch, stretched out on the grass and simply enjoy the day. I, too, once had a kitty that walked well on a leash. I lived near a creek, and therefore, didn’t want her roaming beyond the back yard border. I could actually “tie her out” on a long lead near the lilac bush, and she would spend hours there, relishing the sights and smells of the blooming shrubs. Or, simply nap in the overgrown shade. Even indoors, a cat that’s provided toy mice and games of “catch-the-feather-on-the- fishing-pole-if-you-can!” enjoys the stimulation of her senses.
Spring officially arrives March 21. Cabin fever strikes us all, and the coming of spring helps alleviate some of that by providing extra daylight, extra sunshine, and extra-stimulating fragrances. Fresh air, warm sun, blooming flowers, and singing birds – the great outdoors is calling to our pets and us! Allow your dog some extra time in your fenced backyard to drink in the sights, smells, and feelings of the new season. Take kitty for a safe stroll around your house – many cats become very amenable to a leash and stay safe from passing cars or roaming dogs by being on one. Enjoy your furry friend’s company while outdoors this spring – you’ll both feel better for it!
Sunday, January 15, 2012
A New Year has begun, and with its dawning come resolutions by people to eat healthier and get into better shape. Although many often break those declarations before month-end, perhaps you and your pet can become healthier together, thereby sticking to your resolution and helping your pet stay healthier and happier in the process.
Just as people need nutritious foods to keep them healthy, so do our pets. Just as there are a wide variety of foods we can choose to eat or not, so, too, are there many types and brands of foods from which to choose for our pets. Whether you go to your vet’s office, shop at a grocery or big box store, or buy your pet food from a pet supply store, you are bombarded by the many flavors, brands and special diet foods. With the numerous options, it can seem overwhelming to tackle the question, “What should I feed my pet?”
The best decision is to research. Look at the brands in the store and discuss with the store staff. Inquire of trusted friends who are pet owners what they feed their animals, and of course, talk with your vet, especially if your dog or cat has a health issue, such as diabetes. Then, get on the Internet and read about the company from their website as well as learn more about pet food from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (http://www.petfood.aafco.org/). Ask your pet food supplier for samples to try as you learn what food is best for your furry friend.
You can read the labels, however, the order of ingredients on a pet food label is often based on the precooked weight (water and its contributing weight), not on the finished product weight. For example, if chicken is listed as the first ingredient, which we all think is good thing, how much chicken is really in the kibble? Processing chickens to create dry dog and cat food takes the moisture out of the meat and carcass. What is the percentage of chicken actually in the product – 10 percent, 25 percent, 40 percent, more than that? How much corn meal or wheat does the product contain? Some pets are allergic to wheat and corn. Are there synthetic vitamins and minerals in the food? Pets cannot always completely digest synthetic materials. And where is the food processed? Remember the pet food recall involving melamine and China in 2007?
In addition to food selection, here are a few other tips to keeping your pet healthier and happier this year:
1. Provide your furry friend with exercise. Perhaps you and your dog can take more walks together, become running partners, or get involved with the local agility club – or simply conduct agility in your own backyard. Cats, too, need exercise, so provide tunnels, climbing posts, and toys to help keep them active. Wiggling a feathered “fishing pole” may not seem like much exercise, but having your feline chase the feathers around the room keeps your kitty alert and agile. Animals need stimulation, and exercise not only stimulates them physically, but mentally as well.
2. Make sure your pets are current on their vaccinations. If your animal encounters another dog or cat that is not vaccinated against distemper, for example, you may end up with a much larger vet bill than if you had kept your Fido or Fiona’s vaccinations up-to-date. Plus, the emotional stress on both you and your pet should your friend become ill is also a significant factor to consider.
So, as the New Year sets in and thoughts of resolutions sprout, if you’re pondering a healthier you, also think about a healthier pet. Together, you just might keep that resolution to be healthier, and therefore, happier!