A lot has been said about living a healthy life these days. People’s concern in reducing stress, balancing their diet and exercising have increased at the same time some diseases and obesity have become more prevalent in the population. These problems occur not only with people, but as well as with dogs and cats.  In today’s piece, you will see tips on how to lead a healthier and enjoyable life in the company of your pet, and how this can be good for you and your pet.

First of all, we must bear in mind the pets lives on average 12 to 14 years, sometimes even more than that. Therefore, it is necessary to think about the future, because the animal will need our care throughout his life. Being prepared to devote attention to the animal will make this task become an act of affection and attention, and not a problem. 

Another important point to consider is choosing a pet that will fit in our profile. For example, in the case of a person who lives alone in an apartment and is outside all day, a puppy Labrador (or another large breed) is not recommended to – imagine this dog stuck all day in a small space, trying to interact with an environment without major attractions. Animals must spend their energy, and walks and games are needed and will do well for you and for him. Then, consider the size of the animal, the type of coat, the temperament of the breed, research on the care needed and think about the situations that you will face together, always respecting the nature of the pet chosen.

It is worth thinking about the possibility of adoption, because by adopting a street pet we avoid the dog staying abandoned and generating even more dogs without owners who will suffer the consequences of abandonment. Adopting is always a very rewarding act of love!

Another important precaution to take for a healthy relationship with dogs or cats is education. Educating the animal properly, without pampering or exaggeration, will make it easier. One conscious owner and one well educated animal will contribute to the quality of life of the family.  

A balanced diet is the basis of everything

It is cliché, but it is never too much to talk about the importance of a balanced diet. In the case of animals, it may seem simple, but it is not always easy to deal with their feeding. Dogs and cats are carnivorous animals and have nutritional requirements and a digestive system quite different from ours.

In nature, the base of the feeding of carnivores are their prey: other smaller animals that contain large amounts of protein and fat in their body composition. Rarely dogs and wild cats eat vegetable food naturally, and the carbohydrates in their diet usually come from gastrointestinal contents of their prey that are herbivores or omnivores. That said, it is easy to understand why it is so harmful to offer human food for pets. As explained in the previous article on obesity, the ‘humanization’ of animals has contributed a lot to the great occurrence of obesity and its consequences for them. Excess of food treats totally unbalance the animals’ diet, even when these snacks are suitable for pets. 

Veterinary nutrition is very advanced now, offering solutions that were developed exclusively to meet the needs of carnivores. After decades of studies and scientific observation of animals, we have at our disposal various foods carefully prepared for dogs and cats. When we offer food scraps or snacks in excess we are the impacting diet’s balance and this can predispose the animal to diseases and obesity. Even when it seems that he is happy when receiving these treats, we must remember that this habit can make the pet “addicted” and let him always anxious to find increasingly tastier but harmful foods, and this can cause even serious behavioral problems.

Exercise: your health and your pet will thank

Exercise may seem something boring to many people. However, everyone has one or two types of physical activity who deem pleasing, and fortunately, walking with the dog or playing with the cat is almost always one of them. 

Animals also get bored, and this can be bad for them. Dogs and cats need to exercise, spend their energy in the environment in which they live. Taking a stroll and playing bring not only physical, but also psychological benefits to animals. In addition to fighting obesity, it improves cardiovascular conditioning and breathing, strengthens bones, joints and muscles and, most of all, contributes for the well-being of the animal.  Physical activity will strengthen the relationship between you and your pet, improving the quality of life of both.

The benefits of having a pet
In addition to encouraging the practice of physical exercises, improve our wellness and quality of life, animals can also bring us more benefits.

Dogs and cats can help in the development of children by teaching rules and responsibilities in a light and natural way, encouraging the practice of physical activity and helping in the treatment of diseases, among other benefits.  There are studies that relate better immunity to children who maintains contact with animals since early childhood.

For adults, living with animals is also very healthy. A study that lasted 10 years showed that having a cat can reduce up to 30% of the risks of having a heart attack. An Australian study with 5741 participants showed that owners of pets showed lower blood pressure levels. In a research with people above 60 years of age, lower levels of triglycerides were observed in those who owned of a pet animal in comparison to those who did not. 

These studies always mention the role of pets in relieving tension, reducing stress, improving our quality of life and helping people in emotionally or physically fragile states. We cannot fail to mention the therapies with animals that help a lot in treating debilitating diseases, rejoicing and helping in the recovery of the patients’ physical condition. To have a pet is to have a friend always by our side! Happy pet. Happy you.

Glenn N. Levine – Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk – A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association – Circulation.

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