Monthly Archives: September 2017

Best Way to Select Healthy Pet Foods

Just looking at the pet food ads on TV and in magazines, you’d get the impression that all commercial pet foods are healthy. All those fresh ingredients could tempt you to try these pet foods yourself! Unfortunately, the truth about most pet foods may be far from what artful ads would have us believe. If you’ve ever opened a pet food can that was marketed as healthy, and then found a glob of unrecognizable, grayish something-or-other, then you probably know what I mean.

Now, if you’re already aware that not all pet food commercials and ads live up to their promises, you should ask yourself a simple question: how can I tell if a particular pet food is healthy? The answer to this is often hidden in plain sight, on the pet food label, often in the midst of a bunch of unfamiliar terms. To do well for your pet, you need to be able to interpret pet food labels correctly.

First and foremost, healthy pet foods contain real food ingredients.

Healthy commercial pet foods are made from natural food ingredients that reflect the needs of the pet for which the foods are intended. Remember that ingredients are listed in the order of their relative quantity in the pet food. Healthy dog and cat foods should contain animal-derived products as their first ingredients. The quality of these ingredients is absolutely essential to the health of your pet. If you see terms like ‘chicken meal’, ‘fish meal,’ ‘animal by-products,’ or ‘animal fat,’ you should know that these ingredients are of extremely low quality. Better choices are products that list terms that precisely describe the ingredient, such as chicken, cod, or animal parts, such as chicken heart or beef liver. Finally, the addition of synthetic chemicals should be kept to a minimum, as most of the available pet food supplements added routinely to pet foods are of low or questionable quality and value.

Second, healthy pet foods are certified organic.

This is true quite simply because organic ingredients are both safer and healthier for your pet. Organic ingredients are safer because their production and processing precludes by regulation the use of toxic manufacturing and processing chemicals. These include agricultural pesticides, fertilizers such as sewage sludge, hormones and antibiotics used to raise livestock, and toxic chemicals used during manufacture, including among others, fumigants, pesticides, and corrosive sanitizers. As well, organic ingredients can never include genetically engineered foods (some of which have been implicated in a variety of health problems, such as allergies or reproductive disorders). Increasingly, studies have shown that organic ingredients are healthier than their conventional counterparts, not only because they are free of toxic residues and diligently processed, but also because they contain more nutrients, including vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and critically important trace elements.

However, you should be aware that only USDA certified organic claims are regulated and enforced by Federal law; other non-certified organic claims cannot be verified by an unbiased third party.

Third, healthy pet foods are made of human-grade quality ingredients.

Although it doesn’t seem to make much sense, there are both USDA certified organic ingredients for human consumption and USDA certified organic ingredients for animals (examples are eggs, peas, etc). The latter are called ‘feed-grade’ ingredients, and are approved for the use solely in pet foods. Feed-grade ingredients are certainly of lower quality than human-grade ingredients. So, if you’re searching for a healthy pet food, look out for the descriptive word ‘human-grade’ on the pet food package! Never assume that pet food manufacturers are required to tell the consumer whether they use human-grade or feed-grade ingredients; they aren’t. But they most certainly will indicate if they use human-grade ingredients because these are of higher quality (a major selling point) and more expensive to produce (a justification for charging more for their product).

Fifth, healthy pet foods can be identified by the way they’re processed.

Even certified organic pet foods, containing all of the appropriate ingredients for a particular species of pet, are not necessarily healthy. Healthy pet foods must offer more than just organic certification and species appropriateness. They must also be processed in a manner that preserves the integrity and bio-availability of the nutrients in their ingredients. Heat-based processing, such as canning, baking or extruding food into nicely shaped kibble or biscuits, ruins the quality of many nutrients and can render even the best ingredients ‘lifeless’ and all but useless to your pet. Dehydration is a better way to process foods-but keep in mind that cats in particular don’t do well on dry food alone and that certain problems can even be associated with re-hydrated pet foods that were previously dehydrated. If fresh foods are unavailable, the best choices among commercial pet foods are products that have been fresh-frozen. Of course, freezing is less convenient and more expensive for the manufacturer to ship and store, and those costs get passed down to you, the consumer. Nevertheless, keep in mind that this additional expense will almost certainly ensure that your pet will stay healthy longer, and will also save you the pain and financial burden of caring for a sick animal.

Finally, a pet shouldn’t live on one prepared pet food alone, even if it is healthy and nutritious.

No plant or animal can thrive on just one combination of nutrients. Variety is a must for your pet’s health and well being, and you have the responsibility to provide this variety for your best friend. Just as you and your family would not live happily ever after on even the best quality ‘astronaut’ food (freeze-dried ice cream-blecchh!), your pet needs different foods to stay both healthy and happy! Since your pet has few choices of her own, it’s up to you to provide her with a variety of different safe and healthy USDA certified organic, human-grade, quality foods where ingredients have been processed in ways that are designed to preserve the endogenous nutrients. Your pet will thank you for your diligence and care!

Importance of Pet Care Pet Insurance

When a pet is suddenly injured or gets sick there is no question about whether or not we take it to a veterinarian. Most people feel that their pet is an important member of the family and, just as with any other member of the family, we want them to be healthy and well. It is when a pet goes to the vet that most people realize that Pet Care pet insurance would have been a really good idea.

Many dogs and cats have some genetic illnesses but these do not make you love the pet any less. It can however become expensive to treat as they get older. There are other cases where chronic illnesses can affect a pet because of an incident that occurred when they were younger that requires long term treatment. Both of these types of care can be very expensive.

Very few people have pet care in their normal budget. When it is necessary to go to the vet for an emergency, most people don’t have the thousands of dollars that treatment can cost in a special pet care savings. The money must come from some other area of the budget. Or, when there is not enough money some people are forced to make some hard treatment decisions for their pet.

Pet insurance is a lot like having regular health insurance for any other member of your family. Many of the costs for treatment are covered by the insurance or greatly reduced. A pet’s regular check-ups, vaccinations, and other preventative treatment is covered by the insurance. If an emergency occurs, there will be many treatment costs covered by the insurance and a much lower cost for other services.

Most insurance providers have coverage for pets that is structured in the same way as coverage that we get for ourselves. If an individual chooses a full comprehensive plan, their pet can be covered for up to $80,000 over its lifetime. Other types of coverage cover basic needs and routine care. This coverage is excellent if you live in an area where you pet is not in danger of having an accident or being injured while roaming outside.

Deciding on the type of coverage that you want for your pet will depend on where you live and the types of activities that you and your pet are involved in. A person with a dog that is very active and out of doors a lot will want a more comprehensive coverage because the pet can get injured by someone or something that is beyond your control.

An individual who lives in an apartment, has their pet micro-chipped, and has a pet that doesn’t go outside, may want insurance that focuses on the regular check ups. On the other hand if you fond of the great outdoors and have a pet who joins you on these pursuits, then you will need more comprehensive cover.

Just like human insurance, most Pet Care pet insurance providers do not cover pre-existing conditions. However, if your pet is prone to genetic disorders and they occur after you have the insurance, the provider will cover the treatment of the illness or condition. Comparing quotes and finding the provider that meets your needs will save you money and help you to keep your pet healthy.

Holiday Pet Travel Bring Your With You

The holidays are one of the peak seasons for travel, and it is the perfect time to take your pet along with you. Whether you are off on a ski vacation, visiting family or perhaps enjoying the magical feeling of a Swiss village at Christmas time, having your best friend along will make the trip more enjoyable.

Be sure to consider pet identification before you leave. Pet ID tags with your CELL PHONE number are great since there will not be anyone at home to answer the phone. You should consider the added safety of a pet microchip. If your pet is separated from you, a shelter or a veterinarian can read the chip, and they can then track you down through the database of the company who manufactured the microchip. If you are going to be spending a couple of weeks in one place, consider buying a second Pet ID tag with the contact information on where you will be staying.

Pet crates are a great way to keep your pet safe when traveling in the car. Unless a pet is confined or harnessed, its behavior can cause great distraction to the driver of the vehicle. As much as we all like our smaller pet in our lap, it is detrimental to the safety of the pet, the driver, and the passengers riding in the car. A collision, even at a slow speed, can seriously injure an unrestrained pet. The safety of your pet is your responsibility. Be sure and buckle them in (just as you do for yourself) or confine them in a crate.

If it is very warm or very cold, do not leave your pet in the car alone. Be prepared by having a supply of water, food and water/food bowls in the car. You may not find the brand of pet food they are used to where you are going.

If your pet is larger than about 15 pounds, and you are traveling by air, then you will need a pet crate that is compliant with the International Airline Transport Association (IATA) regulations. If you will be staying in a hotel, then the pet crate is the proper place to leave your pet while you go out to dinner. Make sure that the pet crate is large enough so that your pet can stand up and turn around. Be sure to leave an adequate supply of food and water to last for the period that you will be away. It is also a good idea to place an absorbent pet pad in the bottom of the crate that will keep your pet dry in case of accidents.

Buy your crate well in advance of your trip so that the pet can get used to it before you travel. Pet crates come in two pieces, a top and a bottom. For a few days leave the top off the crate and put treats and a favorite toy in just the bottom portion. After seeing that your pet is comfortable, assemble the crate and leave the door open. Invite them in with praise and treats.

Flying with your pet is easy these days. Almost all airlines accept pets on board the aircraft. Very small pets can often travel in the cabin of the aircraft with you in an airline compliant pet carrier. Larger pets will travel as checked baggage in a special section of the cargo hold where the temperature and pressure is the same as in the cabin. Be sure to alert the captain of the aircraft that you have a pet in cargo as he will take extra care to keep the temperature and pressure at the proper levels. You will need a health certificate stating that your pet is healthy enough to fly. Be sure to make reservations early as the airlines only allow a limited number of pets per flight. Stay away from medical tranquilizers for your pet and instead give them an all natural product that makes them less anxious such as a product called Happy Traveler.

You will need lodging on the way. A great majority of pet friendly hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts that accept pets but they do not always accept all types and sizes. It is important to make your reservations in advance and ask about their pet policy. Under no circumstances should you leave your pet in the car overnight.

When traveling, keep your pet on their normal schedule by feeding them and taking them for their “walk” as close to the regular time as possible. Be sure to pack a supply of plastic bags to take along on those walks. If you are traveling with a cat, there are portable kitty litter trays available. Realize that your pet is out of their normal surroundings, so be sure and keep them on a leash and watch them closely. Reassure them should they show signs of nervousness or anxiety.

Be considerate of other people. Although there are many pet lovers in this world, there are some that do not feel comfortable around pets. Respect others by restraining your pet when necessary.

So whether your destination is Grandma’s house, a mountain cabin or a ski resort in Switzerland your pet can accompany you with the proper planning. International destinations require special veterinary certificates, however when traveling to most countries, there will be no quarantine of your pet.

Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

If you have a Pet I am pretty sure they are a great source of pleasure to you. Hopefully they are an important part of your family, with their own unique personality and behaviour patterns. It may interest you to know then that owning a pet can bring with it many benefits to your mental and physical wellbeing. If you don’t have a pet, then discover some of the reasons why it may be worthwhile getting one.

The psychological benefits

A confidante
You’ve had a terrible day and you just need to vent. However your friends aren’t available, your partner is at work and you don’t see your counsellor until Friday. Fortunately, you can just sit and talk to your pet. They may or may not understand you. Not that it matters: at least it means you can say what you want without fear of reproach. Because they don’t judge you. Even better, you can truly be yourself around your pet.

Reduces loneliness
You are not alone with a pet. What a good feeling it is when your cat curls up on your lap or comes to greet you at the door. Or you’re working at your desk and they decide to visit you for no apparent reason. A number of studies add support to this idea. Research conducted at Ohio State University found university students who owned a pet were less stressed, lonely and depressed compared to those who did not have a pet. Other research reports that homeless young people who had pets were less lonely and were in better health than those without.

Even a robot dog can be a companion to someone. Residents of a nursing home in the US had regular visits from either a real dog, a robot dog or no visit at all. After seven weeks the residents had formed attachments to their dog visitor, whether they were real or not and found them to be a great source of comfort.

Mood booster
If you’ve ever watched TV programs like Funniest Home Videos, you will be aware of how frequently the actions of pets bring laughter and smiles. Furthermore, being entertained by a pet will be good for the family as a whole. Caring for a pet is a common interest shared by each member and each person will develop their own relationship with the animal.

If pets boost mood, then presumably they can help prevent the onset of depression. One particular study showed how men with AIDS who owned a pet were less likely to suffer from depression, compared to those who did not have such a companion. People with HIV and AIDS are at a greater risk of developing depression.

Self-esteem
Pet ownership has to be good for your self-esteem. You get to learn new skills and increase your knowledge as you discover more about your animal and the things you need to do to look after them. Seeing them thrive will be a boost to your confidence. Sharing what you have learned with others will also increase your self-worth.

Develop empathy and caring
Having a pet offers you a chance to develop your empathy skills. Animals may not be as expressive as humans, but any pet lover will know when their pet is feeling down or in pain. It also means you are putting the needs of another ahead of your own. Thinking of another (whether person or animal) takes your mind off your own concerns. If you are prone to getting stuck in your head, this can be a good thing.

In addition, for some pet owners, it is an opportunity to carry out an act of kindness to the community. There are organisations people can join to offer their pets up as therapists. Their pet (generally dogs) visits nursing homes and hospitals. One example of this is Therapy Dogs in the US.

The physical benefits

Stress reduction
Given the psychological benefits associated with pets, it is not surprising to learn that they are a great way to reduce stress. If you experience stress long term, you put yourself at risk of some serious health problems. These include: heart disease, diabetes, ulcers, asthma and migraines.

However, having a pet can relieve stress in a number of ways. Simply stroking or cuddling your pet has been shown to lower blood pressure, slow down your heart rate, your muscles are no longer tensed and breathing returns to normal. All the things you would want from a stress reliever. Stroking your pet may even release endorphins – a natural pain reliever and stress reducer. It has also been shown that simply having your pet near you at times of stress, may reduce your stress-related symptoms. Bear this in mind if you have to make a difficult phone call.

Lower lipid levels
Lipids are a type of fat found in the blood that is linked with diabetes. Cholesterol is a lipid and high levels of the bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) put you at risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Another type of lipid is triglycerides and this can also increase the risk of heart disease if it is present at high levels.

People who own pets tend to have lower lipid levels compared to people who do not have pets. It is possible that the extra activity involved in having a pet may explain these differences.

Exercise
If you own a dog it is the perfect way of getting exercise. Come rain or shine, your puppy will want to be walked. Physical exercise benefits you both physically and mentally. Your daily walk is also a chance to meet other people. Meeting other dog owners, means you instantly have something in common.

Getting exercise outside alone can be a safety concern particularly for women. These feelings can be greatly decreased with a dog by your side.

Research has shown that children who have a dog are less likely to be overweight than those without. They offer the child opportunities for play, even if it is just around the house.

Pet therapy
When clinicians use pets as part of their work, you can be certain that there is something good about the process. There are numerous examples of health professionals taking their dogs to work with them. Here are some examples I came across. A physiotherapist takes her dog to work with her at the hospital she works in at Harborview Medical Centre, Seattle. Another dog makes visits to patients at Bellevue’s Overlake hospital in Washington. In the 1960s, Boris Levinson a child psychiatrist used his dog Jingles in therapy with his young patients. In Montrose, there is a mental health clinician whose dog is involved in therapy sessions with children. Even Great Ormond Street Hospital is taken with the idea, with Ripley the dog visiting sick children.

Tips for getting the most from your pet

  • Think of creative ways you can spend time with your pet, so as to make things more interesting for the both of you. Be on the lookout for new play opportunities, inventing games that will get you both thinking.
  • If you want to enhance your chances of happiness and are not sure which pet to get, go for tropical fish. Research by Wiseman at the University of Hertfordshire found tropical fish owners to be the most content amongst pet owners.
  • Take advantage of the opportunity pets give you to be kind to another.
  • If you don’t have a pet, you could get your fix by helping out at a local shelter. Volunteering increases happiness and you’re doing something good for the animals.
  • Take photos of your pets. Even better film them.
  • Know that it is okay to have your pet as a member of the family and not just part of the furniture. So make sure you don’t forget their birthday!
  • Don’t forget animal shelters if you are thinking about getting a pet. How great, rescuing an animal that will consequently be a source of joy for you.